Being a woman and an entrepreneur is a lot of work! Heck, I know first hand how much work it is just being a woman – being a wife and mother is exhausting in and of itself. But more than that, women get a lot of pressure from society not just to perform our best, but to look our best too.
It can be easy to become discouraged and start having low self-esteem with everything else going on around us.
That’s why I’ve invited Tammi Brochman, nutrition and productivity coach at Tammi Brochman, who is going to share with you some wonderful advice about how to improve your self-image – so that you can love yourself that much more.
Let’s read what Tammi has to say…
When You Can’t Stand to See Your Reflection, What Do You Do?
Is it okay if I share a story with you? It’s a fictional story, but one based on the truths of many women I know.
This is the story of a woman; we’ll call her Angel. Angel has spent a lot of her life…too much of her life…avoiding her own reflection. She avoids it in mirrors, storefront windows, and in pictures. She’s the woman hiding in the back row for every photo no matter how many times everyone tells her she’s too short and needs to be upfront.
Her typical day looks like this. She wakes, makes her way to the bathroom. Showers, dresses, maybe do some hair and makeup, maybe not. While doing all of this she’s careful not to spend too much time actually looking at herself in the mirror. She gives herself quick glances but doesn’t linger or give any amount of solid analysis of what she sees.
When shopping or walking to work, she either uses her phone to hold her attention or she looks down at the sidewalk. This is because any glance to the left or right may lead to seeing herself in the reflection of the store window or a passing car or bus.
Do you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself? Are you afraid of what you’ll find when you do look at your reflection in the mirror? And why is that? Is it because you think you’ll feel disappointed or frustrated?
Or maybe both? Or maybe you understand your frustration a little deeper and know it means you’re simply jealous of all those other women out there who seem to have done all the same things as you, only they’ve been successful and don’t’ have to hide from their own images. You spend time blaming yourself for failed diets and shame yourself out of attending gatherings with family and friends.
If any of this feels familiar,
and you’re ready for it to stop,
hang on to your stir boot straps because you’re in for a total body image overhaul.
Why You Don’t Like to Look at Yourself
Two words. Diet culture. These two worlds hold more meaning and more pull in this world than any two words should have a right to do. Diet culture is the culmination of years of misunderstood research, misguided intentions, and has been highly influenced by money and politics. Sounds like something you can trust right?
Diet culture is the sum of our society’s beliefs about what we should look like and eat. It is oppressive to anyone not fitting this ideal. Simply put, you’re the victim of diet culture. It is not your fault. But you don’t have to play the part of the victim any longer. You can begin to take charge of your own self-image.
Start by learning more about diet culture and then learn to recognize how and where it is showing up in your life. Develop a filter for it to empower yourself to push it down and allow yourself to step out of this harsh environment.
Understand How the Body Works
Once you’ve taken those first steps out of this uncomfortable comfort zone, it’s important to keep moving forward with your empowerment. And understanding a little more about how your body works will help you do that.
This step doesn’t involve your reflection, but it does involve having a core understanding of how your size and body shape came to be. How you got to where you are now. And no, I’m NOT referring to any of the things you’re probably listing off to yourself right now:
- You’re late-night binges on ice cream or potato chips
- All those times you hung out by the buffet table because it was either your safe zone or because all that food was too tempting after having been on that XXX calorie diet for however long
- All the failed diets
- All the times you cheated on said diets
Did I get any of those thoughts right?
What I’m referring to is your body’s genetics, set point weight, and propensity to keep you alive. Put simply your genetics account for 25-80% of your size and shape, your body will fall into a natural set point weight, and your body has an inclination to survive and will fight hard to get you to eat whenever it’s facing deprivation (as happens in diets). Knowing how the body works sets you up to be able to recognize normal body actions instead of making wrong assumptions about why something is happening. Most of the time those assumptions lead to you feeling like a failure.
Take Action to Improve Your Body Image
So now you’re ready to take some action steps towards actually looking at yourself in that mirror. Surprisingly enough, the mirror can actually wait. Here’s my 3-ingredient recipe to help you.
Knowing what your body image stories are and where they come from is crucial to redirect them. This is called reflection or thinking about a topic. Reflection often involves meditation or a longer period of time than occurs with a quick reaction. Begin this reflection by grabbing a pen and paper and ask yourself some questions. Great questions to ask to help you get to the bottom of all this are:
- What are your first memories of your body?
- Who has been most influential in how you feel about yourself, especially your body?
- What words do you use when you self-talk about your body?
- What limitations do you usually put on yourself with regards to your body (clothing, activities, places you’ll go, people you spend time with, food you will or won’t eat, etc.)?
- Where do these limitations come from and what purpose do they serve for you?
- How is your body image impacting your life? Are you missing out on anything because of your current body image?
- If you could go/be/do anything, without regard to your body size or shape, what would that be?
Having a grasp on these things can offer insight into where you should be focusing your attention. Take these answers and decide what you are willing to tolerate and what you are not willing to tolerate. Then get busy making some changes.
It’s time to refocus your attention back onto your body. Don’t worry. I’m still not going to have you step in front of any mirrors. You’re not ready for that yet. But I do want you to look at your body. Pick just one body part. Start small by choosing a body part you only have one or two issues with or that isn’t as huge of a problem for you. For example, if you have a tremendously difficult time looking at your legs, and you find that you usually cover them up, even in hot weather, don’t start there. Maybe pick your arms or your chest or feet even.
Anything is fair game here.
Whatever body part you chose, I want you to write down all the functions of that part. So in our example, we picked arms. Arms are important for balance while walking or for someone in a wheelchair they may be crucial for mobility. They help you grab things and lift things and even lift yourself up off the floor or out of bed. Take a day and notice how often you use your arms (or whatever your body part is). And write all those ways down.
Now, for each function you wrote down, I want you to think about what life would be like without the ability to function like that. And how would that make you feel? Now, write down how you feel about that body parts function. Not the way the body part looks. But the way you feel about the functions it serves for you. This is the beginning of the process of learning to respect your body.
The last step in moving towards an improved body image involves the concept of regard. Regard has layers and stages. When you regard something, it can mean you accept it for what it is, or it can mean that you hold it in the highest of esteem. This step in the process is the most ambiguous and the longest part of your journey. But when you do the work in the first two steps, this part promises to hold good things for you.
Here is where you will begin to realize and believe that you deserve a better life.
That you deserve to be treated gently and kindly. And if that feels like a huge leap for you, then take it in smaller more bite-sized pieces. The key part to all of this is to start and progress slowly but keep progressing. Some ideas for how to do this are to write out “I respect” statements. An “I respect” statement might look like, “I respect my arms for the workload they endure every day that allows me to keep my house clean and my family fed.” Or you might say, “I respect my eyes for enduring my computer screen all day which allows me to earn a living.”
Regardless of which body part you choose to start with or what functions you recognize and respect about it, your journey towards an improved body image begins with the beginning. Begin. Start the process. What will your first step be?
About the Author
Tammi Brochman is a Nutrition and Productivity Coach. She is a busy mom who helps other moms heal their relationship with food. When she isn’t busy guiding people in nutritional wellness, she is freelance writing and blogging. You can learn more about Tammi at her website Tammi Brochman.
Wow! Tammi did a great job sharing some effective steps to improve your self-image.
It definitely can weigh on us when we start to feel some type of way about ourselves, and these tips can really help. I hope you take the next steps to change the way you view your body – so you can have a positive self-image and mindset to run your business successfully and joyfully! #takeaction
Remember that excuses are the enemy of progress. Focus on YOU. Take the steps you need to take in order to love yourself always