We’ve got big resolutions for 2019, and they revolve around being kinder toward and more accepting of both ourselves and the people around us. Sometimes it can feel like everything from internet commenting to reality TV has made being mean or judgemental the norm, but we don't want that to be our reality – and we're doing something about it! We've teamed up with self-love and body image coach Chantal Lacoste from @tillieandtrue to bring you a series of posts throughout the year that bring attention to the way we think, feel, and act toward ourselves and others. We’re so excited to introduce you to Chantal with her first guest post on approaching shopping with healthy body image in mind.
“Be kind to yourself and recognize that even if you have negative thoughts or feelings, no one is ‘perfect.’ ”
I was at the mall on a whim looking for a dress for a New Year’s Eve wedding. After an hour I finally found a dress I liked, and it was all the things I had envisioned. It was rose gold sequins, long-sleeved, and almost covered my knees. With some tights underneath, it was perfect for the cold weather!
As I stood in front of the mirror, though, something didn't feel right. I scanned myself up and down, then zoned in and stared at my stomach. I felt agitated and uncomfortable and kept thinking I didn’t look ‘thin’ enough to wear the dress.
I hurried to take the dress off to try something else on. It was a different style, but still in ‘my size.’ As I put it over my shoulders, the dress suddenly got caught on my ponytail. It was way too tight!
By that point, I felt beyond self-conscious.
“Why the heck do I feel so bad about my body?!” I stood in front of the mirror, half-naked, and began to cry.
I calmed down and told myself to take a few days off from searching for a dress.
A few days later, I was cautiously ready to take my second attempt. This time, however, I did some research beforehand. I picked an outfit online and shopped based on my research. It was ironic though – the dress I chose online was from the same store I had my meltdown in. This made me a little nervous as I walked into the store, but to my surprise, I felt different going in! I felt confident that I was going to find that fun, flirty dress I had imagined!
Within twenty minutes I was walking out of the store, with a huge smile on my face – and a brand new silky purple dress.
So why was my body image so polar opposite the second time around?! I didn’t look any different… both times, my hair was in a ponytail, I had on minimal make-up, and my body definitely had not changed.
So what was it?!
I re-evaluated my experience and realized the significant change wasn’t in my lack of positive affirmations or the way I looked — instead, it was the difference in my mental state. The first time I attempted to shop, my energy was low, and I hadn’t eaten in hours. At that point, my state was fragile – and I was much more prone to poor body image.
As a self-love and body image coach, this is exactly what I help my clients navigate through. I help them recognize their state, make decisions from their intuitive wisdom, and combat negative thoughts and feelings about their own bodies.
It turns out I’m not immune to negative body image either!
That being said, I can better cope the next time it happens to me. And as a coach, I want to help others learn to protect themselves when they are in similar situations.
You can apply this to your own life by trying the following tips:
1. Focus on your breathing. Notice the stillness between each breath and feel the sensations in your body as you inhale and exhale. Notice what’s going on around you and the thoughts and feelings that come up. Don’t judge them, just simply notice them and let them pass as you focus on breathing.
2. Recognize your state. Notice your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Do you feel weak? Are you frustrated? Anxious? Tired? Hungry? What is it?!
3. Take a moment to honestly ask yourself, “Am I operating from my Wise Mind? Am I making decisions from a calm and connected place within me? Do I feel grounded?”
4. Then ask yourself, “What was my trigger today?” Try labeling the trigger and identifying the possible reason for it. Take note of how your mental state has been distressed by external factors. Are you upset from a text message a friend sent you earlier? Are you mad because your boss made you stay later at work that day? Are you tired because something kept you up all night?
5. Acknowledge what your body and mind need at that very moment. Pause for a moment and give yourself some compassion. Be mindful and figure out a healthy way to comfort yourself. If you feel the need to run or mask your emotions, try challenging yourself by doing the opposite.
6. Once you’ve calmed down, it’s time to work on changing your body’s response to your negative thoughts or feelings. This will allow you to catch and challenge any destructive or negative thoughts and feelings before you fall into the negative mindset trap.
7. Give yourself some compassion. Be kind to yourself and recognize that even if you have negative thoughts or feelings, no one is ‘perfect.’ Recognize the common humanity in your experience – that many other people experience these feelings too. You’re not alone and your thoughts and feelings are valid. You are worthy and capable regardless of what you thought yesterday or today!
For more tips on healthy body image, stay tuned for my next blog post with Spark coming soon!
For more insightful conversation and practical tips on self-love and body image coaching, check out Chantal on social media @tillieandtrue or visit her website. To keep these good vibes going, check out our list of 7 albums that will have you dancing around your place like you’ve never heard of windchill.
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