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.

The Keys to Self-Love

 
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Do you love yourself? Do you feel as though you are enough, just as you are, right now in this moment? Do accept yourself unconditionally? Here’s the radical, complete and honest truth, you are lovable, you are enough, just as you are right in this very moment. Not because I say so but because you are alive, you are here and it is your birthright to feel whole, to feel as though you are enough. It is your birthright to love yourself unconditionally. 

While this might sound really nice to love and accept yourself without condition, self-love can be a missing element and hard to come by for so many. Some view self-love as a negative, ego-driven problem. Others of you may view self-love as a challenge. If that’s you, is it because you put your love out into the world and into others and don’t reserve any for yourself? Self-love is important, it is vital to living a fulfilling, peaceful life. Self-love is more about how you view, value and treat yourself internally and externally. The good news is that self-love can be created, grown and developed with consistent practice.

First, let’s address the faulty belief that self-love is a negative, ego-driven problem. While it can be easy to label others as selfish if it seems that they are only considering their problems or needs when they make choices in their lives, that does not necessarily mean that they actually love themselves. The ego can be dangerous and overbearing. When you are living from a space solely based of the needs of your ego, it will cause problems in relationships and interpersonal interactions. However, someone who has the ability to truly love themselves is able to set boundaries and create a way of communicating their needs in a way that is diplomatic, grounded, kind and reasonable.

Having a strong sense of yourself, your values, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses is a good thing. Understanding the cravings and desires of your ego is a good thing as well. You just don’t want to over-identify with your ego’s often frivolous cravings and shallow desires such as attention, material attainments or praise for the hope of being viewed by others as superior, better than or even worthy. This is not self-love, this the ego’s desperate attempt to gain attention and love from others in a way that is not healthy or from a space of knowing yourself deeply. These attempts for external validation of being lovable or worthy can stem from fear that you are falling short in the opinions of others and need to over-compensate through an over-striving ego. Phew, that was a mouthful…I could go on and on about the ego. It is a challenging, dynamic and important topic, but right now I really want to get to the good stuff about self-love!

When you are practicing self-love you are treating yourself with respect and care. Self-love is striving to grow into who you know you can be and truly are at your highest, strongest, healthiest version of yourself. Most importantly, self-love is never giving up on yourself. When you truly love yourself you are resilient, courageous and confident—because you love you! When you truly love yourself you don’t seek love from others, however you are completely open and unafraid to receive love from others. When you truly love yourself you believe that you are indeed lovable and worthy. Is this how you feel? If not, you are not alone. Many people at times feel inadequate, not good enough or not deserving of good things, like love, in their lives. When these negative beliefs are strong and overwhelming it can cause self-sabotage or relationship sabotage.

The key to building and creating self-love is to know yourself fully and deeply and to actually like and accept who you truly are. To know and accept yourself means that you are not afraid of your shadow side (the not so great stuff about yourself that you fear others will figure out about you and then run fast and far) and that you actually embrace and accept the shadow parts of yourself as a part of the totality of who you are. This can directly have a positive impact on your ability to accept and embrace elements of others that you may find to be “unacceptable.” Light-bulb: this will help expand the unconditional love you are able to offer yourself to others as well!

One way to practice building and creating self-love is self-reflection. There are many ways to reflect, including journaling, meditation and attending therapy. For today I will focus on journaling as it super accessible. Using a journal consistently will help you reflect and know yourself more deeply creating an opportunity to grow and build self-love. To begin, use prompts such as: “what are my strengths?” “what are my weaknesses?” “what do I like about myself?” “what would I like to improve about myself?” “what are my personal values?” “what do I struggle to accept within myself, why?” what do I struggle to accept about others, why?” When you start answering these questions and take time to review them, what stands out to you? Thank yourself for taking the time to reflect and grow in your ability to love yourself through the process of self-reflection.

Another way to create self-love is to date yourself. When was the last time you did exactly what you wanted to do exactly when you wanted to do it? If it wasn’t pretty recent, chances are you are depending on others too much for your happiness. When you take yourself out on a date you get to choose everything you want! Do you want to go a particular restaurant? Then go there! Do you want to see a specific movie? Take yourself to it! Do you want to curl up with a good book and cup of tea? Do it! When you learn to befriend and love yourself, you are never alone. When you find yourself wanting something from someone else and they are not—in your opinion—providing it for you, give it to yourself! See how this feels to spend time, to get to know and care for yourself. Meet your own needs and be proud of the relationship you can cultivate with yourself. There is nothing ego-based about that!

On this same line of thinking other ways to offer yourself self-love is to write yourself love notes, positive affirmations and positive messages. Remind yourself that you are worth time, effort, reflection and getting to know. Remind yourself what you like about yourself, what you accept about yourself and that you want to have a healthy, loving relationship with you.

One last way to create more self-love is to change patterns of negative thinking that have led to not loving yourself unconditionally in the first place. This requires hard work, but it’s totally worth it. Examine your thoughts, beliefs and opinions you have about yourself. How do those make you feel about yourself? What kinds of words are running through your mind about yourself in the form of thoughts? How do those thoughts make you feel in your body? Is it pleasant? Are they kind? Are they negative, self-deprecating and harsh? Do your thoughts support being loving and kind towards yourself? If not, write them down and practice the powerful technique of Reframing.

Reframing is taking your negative or unkind thoughts and putting them into a more neutral, reality based statement. For example, if your thought is, “I knew I’d fail at ___________” (which triggers feeling as though you are inadequate/not good enough/unlovable), try changing the thought to something such as, “Failure is an opportunity to grow, I will figure this out” or “I have failed in the past and survived and I will survive this time as well.” Note: this is not the power of positive thinking, (which I do recommend, just not for this process). This is reframing your thoughts so they are more aligned with what is real and what is true RIGHT NOW. This is allowing yourself to build trust in yourself that your mind will not continue to cause and perpetuate a harmful, conditional-love-based relationship with yourself.

This all may seem like a lot. And while I wanted to write about it all from a happy-happy-happy place of self-love and acceptance since it’s Valentine’s Day and all, this is the reality. This is what you are faced with within your own mind on the regular. It’s time to take ownership over your mind, your thoughts, your beliefs and your actions. This includes how you treat yourself. If you want to be loved, love yourself! If you want to be treated well, treat yourself well! It all starts and it all ends with you—no one else can create self-love for you. While this may feel daunting and maybe even harsh, it’s powerful when you put it into practice! You can create the reality you desire not by seeking love but by creating love. Not by pouring out all of your love but by giving yourself love, refilling your own self-love cup. Remember, there is an infinite supply of love. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to love yourself. You deserve love.

What will you do to grow your self-love today?