By: Andrea Amador, The Juicy Woman
When you look in the mirror, do you love what you see? Most women don’t and they feel pressured to change their appearance to feel better about their bodies.
The fashion and beauty industry suggests that we just need to buy the right dress, cream or get some surgery and we’ll be fine. But we’re not. Many women admit that a bad hair day or a glance in the mirror is often enough to make the rest of their day go south.
Self-confidence from the Inside Out?
The beauty company Dove is famous for launching campaigns that empower women and girls. Back in April, Dove led a social experiment in an effort to find out if beauty and confidence is more than skin deep.
A group of women were chosen to try out a new beauty product patch manufactured by Dove called RB-X. The volunteers were asked to wear the patch for two weeks and document their experience of wearing it, sharing how they felt in a video diary.
Some of the changes they noticed were:
• They felt beautiful despite noticing their flaws
• They took more pictures of themselves
• They accepted compliments more willingly
• They stopped comparing themselves to others
• They spent more time appreciating their unique beauty
• They focused on their signature strengths
• They were happier
• They had more energy
By the end of the experiment, Dove revealed that there was actually no secret beauty ingredient in the patch. The women were amazed that they could feel more beautiful and confident without changing anything on their bodies.
Psychologist, and Body Image expert, Ann Kearney-Cook explains the secret by saying, “with the Dove’s patch study, I think it’s very clear that beauty is just a state of mind. And once you’re in that state of mind the compass of direction is within you.”
Feeling Beautiful is a Choice
When you make the choice to feel beautiful, then you will be seen by yourself and others as beautiful. Sounds simple, but it certainly isn’t easy because so many women struggle with a negative body image and don’t believe that they are beautiful. They wind up feeling ashamed and embarrassed by their bodies.
It’s your negative emotions that are keeping you hating your body. Your emotions are chemicals in your body and the more you experience them, the more they will fire neurons in your brain causing you to experience feeling the same emotion over and over again. This is great when you’re always feeling happy, but not such a good thing when you’re prone to feeling blue, angry or anxious.
As a curvy 51 year old woman, I spent a lot of years being sad, hating my body, thinking that I was cursed. To me, all my problems stemmed from being fat. I swore my life would be different when I lost weight, so I tried every diet always believing that my thighs stood between me and feeling more beautiful and confident. But even after I achieved my goal weight and slimmed down my thighs, I was still miserable; always obsessing and never happy with myself or my body. My mind set at that time was that I was miserable because I had fat thighs.
Then one day while attending a self-esteem coaching, training, I learned about the power of the mind/body connection. That led me to realize that my pained relationship with my body was getting consistently fueled by my hateful and toxic thoughts which kept me in cycles of overeating and self-abuse.
I finally realized that my overweight thighs were my body’s way of screaming out for help, begging to be loved and accepted. Until I began to respect and appreciate myself, thighs and all, I didn’t have a prayer of ever being able to feel good about myself.
One day someone told me about Plus Model Magazine and I began reading it and educating myself to the many examples of role models for size acceptance. As my focus on self-love grew, I saw more opportunities pop up on the internet, watching movies, talking to women who felt good about themselves at any size. Seeing and surrounding myself by women who loved their bodies and respected themselves inspired me to see myself and my body as more beautiful than I had ever known.
As I worked to finish my book, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In” I interviewed a lot of women who had found their way past their body shame into a loving acceptance and appreciation of their bodies. I was most profoundly touched by a story of Kelly Park, a working mom who nominated herself to be on the show, “How to Look Good Naked.” After gaining 90 pounds with her first pregnancy, she assumed that her body revolted her husband, John, so she stopped having sex with him and for the next five years they slept in separate beds. When she told me how her marriage was transformed when she started to see herself as beautiful, it brought me to tears.
Today I continue to surround myself with positive, joyful women who are actively appreciating and accepting their bodies. I’ve made a choice to keep on loving my body at any size. I still have my ups and downs, but I won’t settle for feeling miserable and beating up on myself up for very long because criticizing my body doesn’t feel normal anymore.
Have you become your own worst critic?
Living in a thin-obsessed society, women are taught to view their curvy bodies with a mixture of regret and apology. Fearing the judgment of others, we often feel pressured to hide so we shun family photos and put off doing many of the things we love. But you don’t have to live feeling those feelings of ‘not good enough’ anymore because the source of your insecurities is rooted in the lies that you tell yourself.
Your opinion of yourself and perception of the kind of person you are is stored inside your mind. Your self-image is that part of you that you can’t see that affects everything you do, feel and think. It came from years of growing up, learning and listening to the good, bad and the ugly people who have touched your life. It’s these mental tapes in your head that keep you acting out patterns of behavior that are making you miserable.
If you’re constantly doing and saying things that tell your body you’re ugly and unlovable, it’s because you believe you are. Your body will respond by giving you more reasons to think you’re right. You’ll find yourself doing things that sabotage your happiness, caught up in bad habits, feeling all those different flavors of not good enough, and caught in a tangled web of constantly putting yourself down, looking for reasons to pick yourself apart.
If you grew up in an environment where your body was criticized, and everything you did was questioned, it’s likely that eventually you learned to put yourself down and doubt yourself. In this tempestuous and upsetting environment, you learned how to become your own worst critic.
Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS): What they are and how they affect you
Science has proven that we talk to ourselves thousands of times a day and most of what we say in our heads is a cycle of repetitive and negative thoughts. These are known as Automatic Negative Thoughts and if they get out of hand, they can really mess up a good day.
In his book, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself,” renowned author, speaker, researcher, and chiropractor, Dr. Joe Dispenza combines the fields of quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology, and genetics and teaches people how to change their old habits. He explains what goes on with our bodies and how we can become addicted to negative emotions.
When you do something enough times, it becomes a well-worn habit that gets caught up in your body’s memory. You can’t change a problem that’s rooted in your body by trying to use your mind. That’s like trying to break up an iceberg with a spoon.
It’s likely that you’ve got years of negative emotions stored up in your body that have been making you feel like something is wrong with you. Just like a broken record or skipping CD, your thoughts keep on playing out the same way every day.
This is because your negative emotions have gotten stuck in your body because they haven’t been flushed out of your cells.
Relief at Your Fingertips and More
The good news is that you can change the way you feel about yourself and your body, by processing your negative emotions using a simple do-it-yourself stress relief method called Emotional Freedom Technique.
Based on the science of Acupuncture, EFT is often considered to be its emotional equivalent without the pain of needles. You use your fingertips and tap on certain comfort spots on your body that stimulate a relaxation response in your brain. Anyone can use it any time to take the edge off of any stress, feel better and overcome negative emotions and fears in minutes. By tapping on these points as you let your emotions roll over you, you will process them out of your body and you can be at peace.
To find out more you can do a Google search or hit me up on Facebook . EFT rocks and I teach it to all my clients and use it myself.
For a quick and dirty tutorial, whenever you are feeling overwhelmed by a negative emotion, grossed out by your mirror, having an argument with someone or in a tight spot, you can do fingertip tapping. Just tap continuously on the fingertip points of the hand using the thumb of the same hand. Bring your thumb down lightly onto the side of each finger, in turn tapping for a few seconds on each finger point before moving to the next. If you choose not to do the tapping, you can also just touch each point. Don’t worry about knowing what to say or if you’re doing it right. There are hundreds of these relaxation points on the body and the fingers are just one example a busy woman can use to take the edge off her stress and still maintain her privacy.
Basically know that to triumph over your automatic negative thoughts you must be able to see yourself as a whole person, more than just a number on the scale. Want to feel more beautiful and confident?
Here’s a plan to get you started:
Tune In To break the cycle of repetition, pause and take a breath. Then start to pay attention to what you’re thinking.
Smash! Break the pattern. When you catch yourself name calling or thinking negatively, say something like “Stop.” “It’s over now”, or “I’m not that person anymore.” Say anything to remind yourself that your thoughts are not real.
Stop Putting Yourself Down: Put a ban on sarcasm, criticism and meanness. Make a vow to become your own best friend. Talk to yourself lovingly in soft tones and with sweetness as you would speak to a good friend or loved one.
Stand up for yourself: Your lack of confidence is probably showing up in your relationships. Because we teach people how to treat us, your body hating ways may have been sending the wrong messages to others. It’s never too late to start over. Let people know in no uncertain terms that you’re no longer okay with being criticized, put down or disrespected.
In the end, if you want to tame your inner critic, feel more beautiful and be more confident, don’t expect it to come from anything or anyone but you. Now give yourself permission to reinvent yourself and to feel more beautiful inside and out.
About The Author:
Andrea Amador is The Juicy Woman. Andrea has studied the field of personal growth for 38 years. Today she is an IPEC (Institue of Professional Empowerment Coaching) Certified Empowerment Coach, Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Ericksonian Hypnosis and a Certified Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner. Among her professional training, she has participated in Jack Canfield’s Living Your Highest Vision Self Esteem Seminar, Anthony Robbins, “Unleash the Power Within” The Silva Method and EPIC (Every Person Influences Children). But it’s Andrea’s rare combination of raw life experience and professional training that gives her the edge in helping women and girls who struggle with body image and/or abuse issues.