It is a seasonal right of passage. The weather warms up and people start to feel self-conscious about how their bodies look. We start to see ads for diets and workout plans that will “get you ready for summer.” Maybe it is just me, but I have found that even as I roll my eyes at these ads, some deep-down chord is struck and I find myself looking more closely at my thighs/stomach/butt/etc. I then I start wondering if I need to change me.
Then, this week, I saw an awesome post on Facebook that helped me wake up. A friend posted:
This year’s new mantra applied in different ways (figuratively) to different circumstances: F’ it! Wear the bikini!
If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that I have spent years working to get to a place where I am (more or less) at peace with my body. This has been a long road and I absolutely see this as a life-long journey. You see, even though I have come far in terms of my own self-acceptance and have in many way comes to peace with my relationship with food and exercise, I still have those old habits and negative thoughts buried down in there and every once in a while they come back up. My friend’s statement on Facebook helped to realize that I was in a self-deprecating rut and that I needed to get out of it so that I could relax and be present for the important things like enjoying time with my family and savoring delicious food without guilt.
As I worked to reset my attitude, I realized that over time I have come up with some tricks to shift my perspective and I wanted to share those with you. An important note: while my recent struggles have been around body image, these tricks can work with any kind of negative self-talk that you may be struggling with. Here are three strategies I use when I am working to overcome negative thoughts:
- Three good things. When I catch myself tearing myself down or listening to that nasty voice in my head, I try to stop myself and challenge myself to come up with three good things that have happened that day (or recently) and what my role in those good things has been. This incredibly powerful act helps me to see the good things that I am capable of, it boosts my mood, and it shuts that nasty voice in my head up.
- What would you tell a friend? If I am ripping myself apart, I try to pause and ask myself, “if a friend was saying these things about her/himself, what would I say them her/him?” Chances are, it wouldn’t be “yeah, you’re totally right…”
- Find the pattern, then break it! I have noticed that my negative thoughts tend to come up when I am stressed, over-tired, and around milestones like birthdays/graduations/big transitions when I am taking stock of things. Once I recognized these patterns it became easier to notice when they were rearing their ugly, nasty heads. What this means is that now, when I am starting to feel crummy about myself, I try to pause and ask, “is this coming from an old pattern?” If the answer is yes, then I can use my logical brain to see the other side of the coin. Once I do that, I can then move forward, usually starting with some deep breaths to calm my mind. Your triggers for negative thoughts may be different from mine. I have clients who have discovered that their negative thoughts start when they see a family member who stresses them out, on Sundays before starting the next work week, when they are at different stages in their menstrual cycle, the list goes on and on. As you go through these cycles, try to notice the patterns. What led to the feelings? What else is going on in your life? And then, as you start to identify those patterns, you’ll be better able to counter-act them with logical thinking, self-care, and reminding yourself that this a pattern, not reality.
Once you are able to shift your perspective and be kinder to yourself, you will find that it is much easier to put on that literal or figurative bikini and enjoy the life you are living.
Do you have tricks to snaps yourself out of these sorts of ruts? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!