5 Practices to Upgrade Your Self-Image

 
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If you are ready to ditch the negative internal talk and bring on a greater sense of confidence, well-being and elevate your view of yourself, I recommend you keep on reading. Whether you struggle with emotional eating or not, so many people struggle with a negative or unfavorable view of themselves. Do you do this: Do you hide your value, question your worth and feel less important than others? If you do, today is the day to take back ownership of you. Today is the day to reclaim your confidence, your self-compassion and step into your personal power. Are you ready?

The five following practices will allow you to upgrade your self-image. They will help you create a new, more favorable self-image. They will support a new way of being with, talking to and portraying yourself to both yourself—and to those around you. I love this quote by Marianne Williamson, she says: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?” I love that quote because it offers such a powerful shift in our typical patterns of thinking. So, why do you shirk away from your light, your greatness, your true potential? Most likely because it is pretty scary to even imagine! Maybe because it is not so easy to maintain. Maybe because you’ve never been allowed to feel your greatness, however I imagine, deep down, you know that it’s there.

To be great, to show our light to the world and to step into our personal power is often not how we are taught to be. I just recently listened to a book that emphasized that is actually each of our moral and ethical duty to be our best, to live up to our potential and to share our gifts with the world. If you have something great to offer but don’t because of fear, that’s a disservice to the world. That feels very empowering, motivating and even liberating. 

So here are the five practices you can implement today to begin to elevate yourself, upgrade your self-image and step into your personal power. No matter what you do, who you are, or what fears may be holding you back, take time to integrate these practices and you will start your up-leveling process right away!

1.    Use the Affirmation: “In This Moment, I Have Enough, I am Enough.”

Affirmations are so incredibly valuable because they help to create a new way of speaking to yourself within your conscious mind. Affirmations invite a place to be kind, compassionate and loving towards yourself. This particular affirmation is valuable because it releases and shifts any feelings that you are lacking something. When you operate from a place of lack and scarcity mindset, you create an internal sense that you are not safe and secure. A lacking mentality implies that something needs to change before you can be enough or before you can share yourself and your gifts with others and with the world. This affirmation dispels that self-created myth. Even better, record yourself repeating this affirmation for 1-3 minutes and listen to it daily.

I encourage you to practice saying this affirmation at least three times daily for forty days in a row (you can keep going beyond 40 days, but commit to that at least to begin!) Offer yourself time to journal about how it feels when you say it to yourself and any shifts in your ability to accept it over time and your perceptions of being enough.

2.    Look in the Mirror and Smile at Yourself 3 Times a Day

Smiling is a simple and yet incredibly powerful facial gesture to share with yourself and with others. It can improve how you feel instantly. Try this practice of looking at yourself in the mirror, offering a kind, full-faced smile (don’t ½ ass it here!) and gaze into your own eyes in a kind and compassionate way for about 15-20 seconds.

Practice this three times daily for the next forty days and notice the impact. Again, use a journal to track how you feel when you do this practice. Sometimes it may feel awkward, other times it may be quite touching. No matter what you experience, track it in this way and notice the impact. 

3.    Tell Yourself, “I GOT THIS” with Each Struggle You Endure

I actually have “I Got This” come up as a reminder on my phone every day at 1 pm. Every single day, it brings me a sense of relief and makes me relax and smile. Because really, not matter what, I do. Life is good, life is hard, life is demanding, life is uncertain, life is all the things. Knowing that YOU know that “I GOT THIS” can be extremely reassuring. This awareness builds confidence and improves your self-image instantly. You shift from a space of stress to one of empowerment and the ability to say in that moment, “oh yeah I do!” With each struggle, remind yourself that you’ve experienced other struggles and so far you’ve survived them all. So with this one, no matter how large or small, you’ve totally got this!

4.    Reflect on Your Goals and Success Daily

If you’ve been reading here for a little while, then you know I’m a big fan of setting goals. Planning your action steps and reviewing your progress regularly is a form of self-accountability. I know for myself, if I plan it, it is WAY more likely to actually happen. If I don’t, there’s a good chance I will get busy with…pretty much nothing, at least nothing important. The next step is actually reflecting on your goals and the success you are creating through taking action towards your goals daily. When you do this, you are creating a sense of self-discipline by being accountable to your own daily check in. Begin this daily practice and notice the impact on your progress towards your goals. As you see yourself making progress and creating the change in your life that you desire you will experience an upgrade in your self-image.

5.    Practice Confidence

Confidence can be learned, practiced and developed over time. When you act in a way that reflects internal strength and confidence, it is inevitable that you will upgrade your self-image. When you stand up for yourself, even in a small, simple way that may not seem like much to someone else but feels like a big deal to you, you will elevate your own view of yourself. This naturally will elevate how others experience you as well. Begin this practice by noticing your posture. Stand up tall, relax your shoulders and breathe deeply and completely. This simple shift in posture can make a big shift in how you feel as well as how you are perceived by others. Body language makes a big impact. Once you change your posture, begin to practice the “putting yourself out there” confidence piece. Do you struggle with speaking up for what you want? Do this at least one time this week—no matter what! Do you struggle to speak up in your school or work setting in order to share your knowledge and expertise? Do this at least one time this week—no matter what! Do you struggle to pay attention to your own needs because you want everyone else to be happy all of the time? Spend time in self-reflection becoming familiar with your own personal likes and dislikes, wants and needs. Then, tell at least one person about one thing you discovered about yourself and let your needs be known. Afraid to share your creative gifts? Try singing, playing your instrument, showing your art work or written work to at least one person who you trust this week—no matter what! 

The most important element to building confidence and upgrading your self-image is to make it about you and your own view of yourself. Do these practices to express who you are. You are not doing them in an effort to gain anything in return from others, such as attention or reinforcement. Now you may receive those things, but that will only satisfy your pesky ego, and will not last (the ego is never satisfied). When you feel good inside because you created a spark of joy through believing in yourself, acting with confidence, smiling to yourself, repeating an affirmation or making progress towards your goals—that will be the lasting positive experience that you can continue grow with.

The last thing I’ll say is that upgrading your self-image is all about exiting your comfort zone and entering a place that may create your fears to take over. I’ll quote the great Elizabeth Gilbert to address these scary feelings: “Your fear is the most boring thing about you.” Today, commit to one or more of these five strategies to upgrade your self-image, and maybe, let it be the one that scares you the most. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Your Weight Is Not Your Worth

 
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So many people feel as though there is a magic number they will see on the scale that will make them feel amazing, happy, proud and worthy. This is a message we receive often from society and maybe even from friends and family. The truth is that your weight is completely separate from your worth as a person. You are worthy, period. You are worthy simply because you are you and you are here. It is your birthright to experience your worth for who you are, not for what you do, what you own, what size you are, a number on a scale, or for any other external factor. 

If you have a goal and desire to lose weight for personal reasons, feeling proud of that as an accomplishment is a good thing. However, it is a separate experience from whether or not you are more valuable as a person because of the number you see on a scale changing. Likewise, if you find that you have gained weight and feel frustrated, that does not diminish your value and worth as a person. While it may feel that we live in a judgmental and shallow society, most of us just want to feel content, peaceful and happy. A number on a scale may offer a temporary jolt of happiness, but it is not sustainable happiness. This type of happiness is conditional and fleeting. True happiness comes from within and is unconditional.

True and lasting contentment, peace and happiness can only come from within. While external circumstances contribute to certain feelings, they are all fleeting. Finding self-worth and value in who you are requires self-compassion, self-reflection and self-exploration. Think about why you care about the people in your life that you love, care for and trust. Is it because they look good, own fancy things or step on a scale and see a certain number? I’d think not! Most likely you care for them because of who they are. Most likely you like the way that they make you feel when you are around them. This is an experience of the true person, not some external factor. This is what others seek from you as well. They most likely are not judging you, they want to be around you because of how you make them feel. 

When you feel good about yourself and own your worth, this is experienced by others. When you are down on yourself, negative and anxious about weight, perceived judgment and withdrawn from others, they may resist being around you. So how do you go about improving your self-worth on a deeper level? Self-compassion is a big one here. Grow in your ability to be kind to yourself, speak to yourself and any struggles you experience in the same way you would a friend. Self-reflection is helpful in order to improve your self-worth as you can see where your blocks are to self-compassion and self-acceptance. Some forms of self-reflection are journaling, meditation, therapy and other creative outlets. These processes lead to self-exploration where you can explore what comes up during your time of self-reflection. Through the self-exploration process you can make changes as you find patterns of thoughts, beliefs, actions and behaviors that are not serving you.

So now back to feeling worthy despite a number on the scale. To begin, I recommend throwing your scale away. If you insist on keeping it, try not to weight yourself regularly as weight fluctuates easily and often. Once a monthly is sufficient—but only if you feel it is not triggering or that you are overly attached to a specific number on the scale. When you go to the doctor you can always ask to not hear or see the number on the scale. If there is something in relation to weight gain or weight loss that may be medically driven, you do want to talk about the specific medical factors and solutions. However, this for the purpose of your health and wellbeing, but that does not require that you know the exact number.

Building self-worth is not an overnight task. If you have been struggling with frustrations due to your weight or your body, try beginning with at least a little self-compassion. What factors do you want others to notice about you, who you truly are on the inside? Notice those elements within yourself and begin to reclaim your self-worth based on who you are, not what you look like, what you own or feel that you lack. If you want to create change in your life, allow it to come from a place of kindness and care for yourself, not punishment and disdain. As you continue to practice self-compassion, self-reflection and exploration I’d love to hear what you discover.

4 Tools to Create Self-Regulation

 
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Self-regulation is the ability to regulate your own behaviors, actions and choices consistently. Self-regulation is a personal strength and for many of us it is a strength that is, well… a work in progress. The ability to moderate your needs, actions and choices from a whole-person perspective—mind, body, spirit—can be a challenge. The good news is that self-regulation is a strength and if you think of it like a muscle, you can make it stronger with repetition and practice. It is a strength that can be honed, developed and utilized in order create how you want to feel about yourself.

These four tools that I list here will help you to establish, create and build upon your self-regulation. These tools are applicable to any area of your life that you would like to feel more in control. If you find you are not following through like you’d like to in certain areas of your life, it will be of benefit to you to strengthen your self-regulation skills. OR if you find that you are excessively rigid anywhere in your life, this indicates an imbalance as well. Over-regulation and obsession with perfection is not healthy either. Living in an overly regulated space is generally not sustainable and it creates unnecessary internal stress and discomfort.

So how do you go about increasing your self-regulation skills? The following are four practical tools that will help you grow in your ability to self-regulate. These four tools are useful and actionable and will offer you the best place to begin.

1.    Create a Personalized Plan

When you create a personalized plan, you set yourself up for success. The ability to regulate your behaviors can be hard. If your goal is to heal your relationship with food, your body and yourself but you don’t have any type of plan for how to make that happen, you will not have anything to regulate. This leaves your goals merely a daydream and you will be stuck in a space of fantasizing about what could happen tomorrow. On the other side of the coin is an overly rigid plan. These could include a restrictive diet plan, excessive exercise plan or other extreme measures. This doesn’t allow you to grow in self-regulation because you are relying on an someone else’s external plan to tell you what to do for often just a limited period of time.

When you create your own personal plan to grow self-regulation, and in sticking with the example of healing emotional eating, losing weight or improving your body image, your plan will need to set manageable guidelines. Your plan will need to have small changes that are actionable and realistic. Your plan will need to offer you space to grow (meaning you will have to learn from mistakes) and make the changes that will allow you to meet your goals and will be sustainable over time. Your plan will need to have opportunities for you to reflect and make shifts and changes as needed. Your plan is yours. Not your friends, your moms, your co-workers, but yours. Your plan will need to fit your personal needs. Your plan will need to offer you space to create growth through self-reflection and self-awareness. Your plan will encourage the shift to create the ability to self-regulate your own needs in mind, body and spirit.

To begin, you need to identify what you want, why you want it. Determine your personal values in life and how you connect these to what you want in order to help support yourself and create the change you want. Then set specific (meaning measurable), doable (they will actually fit into your current life), and desirable (meaning you truly WANT it) goals. Each goal needs action steps that you can take daily, no matter how small, so that you are creating movement and momentum consistently towards what you want. Create a timeline for reflection, reevaluation and what to do when you achieve a goal. Your ability to create this personalized plan for YOU in and of itself demonstrates an ability to practice self-regulation!

2.    Recognize Where You Sabotage Your Goals

When you bring awareness to where you are sabotaging yourself, you have two choices. The first is to stop the self-sabotage and the second is to give up. Ok, maybe it’s not that simple. But if the option of stopping the self-sabotage sounds like the more appealing option than giving up (which is equal to giving in to any negative beliefs about yourself: I can’t do it, I’ll never change, it’s too hard, I will fail, why bother, what’s the point, blah blah blah…), it will require some work. This work includes self-reflection and a decision to change your thoughts, beliefs about yourself and your actions. I call this self-saboteur the Deal Maker, if you want to read more about that concept, I have a chapter dedicated to it in my book, or you can read more on my blog here.

For today, what you need to know is that this part of yourself will sound convincing in its effort to foil your plans to make the change in your life that you desire. If your goal is to create greater health, to eat healthy, to move your body more, to lose weight, to save money, to change careers… no matter what it is, if you are not fully committed, you set yourself up for self-sabotage. Some examples of self-sabotaging thinking are “I have to be perfect,” or “I will fail” which only leads to the feeling of why bother or what’s the point. Your internal Deal Maker will try to put off taking action towards your goals and it uses these negative beliefs about yourself to keep the lie and resulting inaction going. Your internal Deal Maker preys on your fears. When you can highlight for yourself the exact thoughts, beliefs and fears that derail you, you can challenge them, work with them, and change the way you respond to them. When you are aware of the roadblocks that show up and you struggle to push through and past them, when you see that you are in your own way, you can do something about them. This is a daily practice. When you can understand where you tend to self-sabotage and see the common excuses and fears that your Deal Maker uses to keep you from taking action, you can recognize that they are not valid. You can recognize that there is another way. This leads me right into the next step: MINDSET!

3.    Change Your Mindset

When you change your mindset, you change everything. When you place something into your mindset before you plan to do it and you spend time visualizing yourself doing it, you are FAR more likely to do it. When you leave your plans in a fantasy space, you are FAR less likely to take action. Mindset is a decision that you make ahead of time. Mindset is a shift in perspective and it’s intimately tied to self-regulation and self-discipline. However, it is not discipline that you might think of in terms of punishment or consequences. I am talking about reward based discipline because making progress and meeting your goals feels amazing!

One of the most important elements of creating a focused mindset is the perspective you bring to what you want. If you view hard work as draining, overwhelming, tiring and inaccessible to you, it will only be another barrier to address. If you view hard work as rewarding, building momentum, creating the change you desire and freeing you to live the life you want, then you are well on your way to achieving what you want. When you change your perspective you change your whole life! Take time daily to create a mindset of action. Visualize why you want what you want and connect with the belief that what you want is possible. And this leads me right to the final tool to build healthy and balanced self-regulation skills. 

4.    Create an Accountability System

The only person you can truly be accountable to is you. When you are “held accountable” to others, it implies the possibility of punishment or reward. When you are accountable to yourself, your personal follow through IS the reward. Your progress IS the reward. Creating a life you love and managing your life in a way that feels as though you are regulating your behaviors in a way that aligns with what you want IS the reward.

All of that being said, being involved in an accountability group can help maintain your momentum. When you have others to cheer you on or share your struggles, you will feel more connected. This helps you tap into energy reserves that come from feeling supported and encouraged. Begin by setting up a review system for yourself so you initially will know what you want to work towards, what it will take to get there, and any struggles (areas of potential self-sabotage) that may arise. Talk these through within your accountability team. Your accountability team could be peers, friends, family, people you meet in a Facebook group, co-workers, someone from the gym or anyone else who has a vision for their life and is ready to stop dreaming about it and ready to make it happen. If you find you could benefit from additional support hiring a coach or therapist will offer this level of support and accountability as well. When you are consistently taking action towards your goals, you are building the ability to self-regulate. When you share that within a pair, group or team setting you inspire others and receive inspiration to make it happen.

Building self-regulation as an internal strength takes time. If you have struggled with this for a long time, know that it will not happen overnight! Change is hard, growing is often uncomfortable, but it is absolutely worth the effort. When you follow these steps of creating a plan, help yourself get out of your own way, develop a focused mindset and a method of accountability, you will see the changes within your life. The first place to start is always with what you want and why you want it. Reminding yourself often of your ultimate goal will help you make the necessary and at times uncomfortable choices that grow your self-regulation. Every time you choose your plan, you choose to not believe negative thoughts, you don’t respond to your internal fears, you take time to create a healthy mindset and you check in with yourself and your supporters, you are growing your self-regulation muscle! Keep me posted on your self-regulation journey!