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!

Spring Cleaning for Mind and Body

Wow, spring is finally here, and whether or not the weather has gotten the memo that winter is over, I am so ready for this new season. With the extended sunlight, do you feel a little energy building? With this renewed energy do you spend time spring cleaning your house, closets and clearing out old clutter? If you have a yard, do you spend time clearing away old leaves and brush and begin to prepare the soil for new bulbs, flowers and greenery? Most people gain momentum during the spring season to clean and clear their physical environments, which is great, but have you considered spending time to spring clean in mind, body and spirit?

 
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Whether it’s your physical environment or your physical body, residue builds and clutter stacks up higher and higher. Emotional clutter needs time to cleanse and clear just like the clutter and dust bunnies in your physical space. When you spend time cleansing and clearing in mind, body and spirit, you create the needed space to grow, to expand, to evolve—to plant new seeds within your heart and mind.

Here are some useful tools you can integrate to help clear away the clutter of physical and emotional residue that may be lingering on from the cold, grey winter.

  1. Journaling

Let’s start with mental clearing. I find one of the most useful and accessible tools for mental and emotional release is journaling. You might prefer to read on and then come back to these prompts, but if you know you may put it off and never do it, take a moment right now to get out your journal, a notebook or something else to write on and a writing utensil and complete these prompts right now!

Spend time pondering the following self-reflection prompts to help clear your mind of any residual clutter from the seemingly never-ending winter. Letting go and clearing any lingering emotional discomfort will allow you to create room for mental and emotional space for what will serve you moving forward. Without the space to create what you want you will remain stuck in what you already know. Self-reflection is one of the most powerful ways to motivate yourself and create a new, healthy mindset towards the change you desire.

·      What stands in the way of living my most healthy life?

·      What roadblocks are currently in the way of living my best life and being the version of myself—and how can I begin to address each roadblock?

·      What would my life look like if I were being guided by my desire to make my vision my reality?

·      What difficult circumstances did I have to manage this winter?

·      What residual emotions from the winter do I need to release, to let go of, once and for all and how can I do this in a healthy, productive manner?

·      What do I need to let go of in order to move forward with more peace of mind on a daily basis?

2. Breathing

The second tool you can you use to clear your body and the mind is your breath. (If you missed my recent blog about the power of your breath, you can catch it here!) A form of breathing that will cleanse and clear your mind and body is called the bellow’s breath. It is a stimulating breathing practice, so it’s ideal to practice it in the early to mid-part of the day, not in the evenings. It’s always best to practice with the support of an instructor if it is brand new for you. (This particular breath is not suited for anyone who’s had recent abdominal surgery or who has untreated high blood pressure, anxiety or if you are pregnant.) If you give it a whirl and dislike anything about it, there is no need to do it! Just doing a diaphragmatic breathing practice can help to rid your body of excess stress hormones and your mind of excess stressful thoughts. The second breathing practice described below is a calming, grounding breath that is balancing, clearing and suitable for all.

+Bellow’s breath: Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed and relaxed. Each inhale and exhale are equal in duration, but as short as possible. You are “pumping” your navel center and building energy with this breath, creating a cleansing of mind, body and energy. This is a noisy breathing exercise, almost like a dog panting on a warm day. Try for approximately three in-and-out breath cycles per second, and aim for about ten breaths at time to begin. This produces a quick movement of your diaphragm, just like a bellows. Return to your normal breathing rhythm after each cycle. Do not do for more than 15 seconds on your first try as it can cause some dizziness. Again, if it is at all uncomfortable, there is no need to continue. Each time you practice this exercise, you can increase your time by five seconds or so, until you reach a full minute. If done properly, you will feel invigorated, comparable to the heightened awareness you feel after a refreshing workout.

+So-Hum breath: as you inhale, feel your abdomen expand and say “so” in your mind, as you exhale, draw your navel in towards your spine and say “hum” in your mind. Continue for at least one minute, but feel free to go longer. This “so-hum” breath will help to focus your attention and quiet your mind.

3. Nutrition

This last portion is all about spring cleaning for your physical body. One of my favorite ways to do this is adding in more bitter flavors, which is always available with fresh leafy greens! Here’s my favorite green drink recipe that is cleansing, refreshing and I think super delicious!

When you try it, let me know what you think. If you tweak it to make it your own, let me know what changes you find to be delicious, I love trying new variations on old recipes!

Spring Cleaning Green Drink Recipe

Serves 2: because health is best when you share it!

2 peeled cucumbers

½ cup fresh chopped pineapple

2 cups of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, chard, dandelion greens chopped

1-2 stalks of celery diced

1 inch of fresh peeled ginger root chopped

1 tablespoon hemp hearts

juice of half of a lime

½ cup filtered water or coconut water, may need more to blend to desired consistency

Blend all ingredients together and add more or less of your favorites to taste

ENJOY!!

When you try these cleansing practices, let me know how they work for you! Know that you are clearing mental and emotional space to move forward, building energy to feel well, live well and be well.

BREATHE

 
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Whether or not you are breathing is a deciding factor as to whether or not you are alive. Breath is life. Your breath works as a part of an automatic response within your body, meaning, you will breathe whether or not you are thinking about it. The cool thing is, if you bring your breath into your conscious awareness and under your conscious control, you create the opportunity to control your nervous system.

The pace, rhythm and direction of your breath all directly point to your mood state, mental state and can trigger your nervous system towards causing stress or a state of relaxation within your nervous system. There are two major elements of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, or the mode of fight or flight or freeze and the parasympathetic nervous system, the mode of rest and digest. Ideally, unless of course there is a true emergency, we all want to live in rest and digest mode.

The importance of engaging the parasympathetic nervous system response, or remaining in rest and digest mode most of the time is well documented. You see, stress is the cause of upwards of 90% of illness. The stress response as you experience it in your mind and body can be caused by something stressful that is actually happening, or it can be caused by just by thinking about something happening that is distressing. The good news is we can do something about the latter—when the stress response is triggered by our thoughts. This something is super simple and is absolutely free of charge. This something is using your breath.

When you take ahold of your breath, you can take ahold of your whole nervous system. You can calm your mind and body and reconnect to what is true right now, rather than what is occurring in your mind that is creating a fearful, stressful response within your mind and body. Your body does not know the difference between the real or perceived stressors and will respond accordingly to either. When you find that you are catastrophizing and creating the stress response within your body, you can bring the process of breathing into your focus by slowing down each inhale and each exhale and calm your mind in the process.

Breathing diaphragmatically engages the parasympathetic nervous system response. Try this, place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest. As you breathe, notice which hand is moving. You are not judging your breathing process. You are simply noticing your breath in order to improve your ability to calm your mind/body. If your hand on your chest is moving but your hand on your abdomen is not moving (meaning your chest is expanding as you inhale), you are paradoxically breathing. This type of breathing can come about by feeling as though you have to suck in your stomach all the time, and it can actually cause you to go into fight or flight mode. Yikes!

If this is how you generally breathe, don’t fret! You can change how you breathe right now! You can practice diaphragmatic breathing in order for it to become your new method of breathing. To diaphragmatically breathe, allow your abdomen to expand into your hand as you inhale and allow the hand on your chest to remain relatively still. As you exhale, draw your navel in towards your spine. Allow this to become your new pattern of breathing—abdomen expanding as you inhale, navel drawing in towards your spine as you exhale.

When you breathe in this manner you are creating an opportunity to calm your nervous system in the here and the now. By allowing your attention to rest on your breath, not in your stressful, repetitive thoughts, you ease your body of the excess cortisol and adrenaline produced by your stressful thoughts. In the moment you recognize that you are feeling stressed within your body due to a thought or perception, rather than an actual stressful occurrence, try this process of connecting with your breath. Breathe diaphragmatically, slowly and deeply. Begin to slow down each inhale and each exhale. Focus on your exhale and allow just a slight pause at the end of your exhale and at the top of your inhale. Follow your breath with your mind. Notice the sensation of your breath against your nostrils. Notice the cooling, calming impact of your breath as you inhale and the warm, soothing impact of your breath as you exhale. 

When you focus on your breath you create an opportunity to become fully engaged in the present moment, the only moment. When you are fully engaged in the present moment you create the opportunity to live your life right as it is unfolding, rather than in the anxiety of the future or wishing for a different past. Your breath is your link, it is your powerful anchor to the present moment. Use it. Be aware of it. Allow it to create the transformation of your nervous system that is possible. Be here now, be aware of your breath and allow stress to no longer rule your life, your body and your mood state.

If you’d like some guidance on how to breathe, you can listen to my 5-minute guided diaphragmatic breathing practice here in the resources section of my website. Has changing your breath changed your life? I’d love to hear how using your breath to manage stress has impacted your life for the better!