So I got this comment on my blog after my last post ‘Asteya’ and it really upset me – one of the reasons it hit me hard was that I could TOTALLY relate to what the reader was saying, and I know that many others of you also do, or know someone who, feels this way…
The reader wrote:
‘I love your analysis, I am stealing all the time and need to stop, I have stolen my own joy, by constantly being unhappy with who I am, my own vanity on how I look, how much I weigh, how I am ageing and then constantly comparing myself to others, on the mat I feel stressed because I worry if I don’t do the practice right, if someone else is doing it better and I have finally stopped going to practice, now am sabotaging myself because I have lost my form, am putting on weight and feel lost. How do you break the cycle, feel totally aligned with oneself and stop stealing joy and peace from your own self?’
Firstly, I would say the only way to START to stop this cycle is to literally stop – try stop thinking this way, get back on the mat and just show up, everyday. Remember you are the ruler of your own brain, you are not your thoughts and YOU are the only one who can control them.
About me – I grew up in an industry that was purely based on looks first – talent second. At dance college I went through needless dieting to have the ultimate dancers body…when in reality I was a UK size 8….and it stuck with me for many years. Finally I found myself in a happy relationship, travelling the world and feeling content, and like a lot of people who think they have found someone who will love you exactly as you are, who loves you for you and not your appearance, I put on weight. Then began the ‘loathing years’, rather that actually grab the bull by the horns and do something about it, and I mean really do something about it, like stop drinking/eating so much and find an exercise routine that you will stick too, I went down the path of self-pity and comparison. Looking back now I must have enjoyed feeling shit about myself as I managed to waste a lot of valuable time obsessing over how shit I looked….anyway, for me, my saviour was Yoga, slowly, slowly I began to rejoice in the things my body COULD do, and how it felt and of course the effects of this soon start to filter into your mental health.
I got so immersed in how GOOD yoga made me feel that I took the teacher training and left my job as a Dance Lecturer to pursue a life of a travelling yogi (meaning no fixed abode, travelling and teaching around the world) A few years on and I have made a much more spiritual connection, started in earnest a meditation practice and get on my mat daily to practice Ashtanga Yoga. Through this practice I have changed the way I eat, and even though I am still at war with myself somedays I have learnt how to manage it, I have a much more positive outlook on it and am much much better at accepting myself for who I am, right now in this moment.
It wasn’t, and isn’t, as easy as writing this post. Somedays I look in the mirror and feel disgusted, somedays I just feel ‘meh’ and somedays I don’t look in the mirror at all and just go on how I feel. And somedays I look in the mirror and think – ‘I am not my physical body’
So, as I resonate with this, and have first hand experience of this and have, and am STILL working on this, here is my ‘8 Step Guide to’ helping you get out of the cycle…
- Stop comparing yourself. Time and time again I come across this, but stop this behaviour RIGHT NOW!!!! comparison is the thief of joy….FACT.
- Unfollow ALL those ‘perfect’ people on social media. It’s even more difficult in the digital age to feel happy and content with how we are, we are constantly bombarded with images on social media of models and celebrities looking ‘prefect’ giving us a totally false, airbrushed image of society. So, I suggest that you unfollow all the ‘unrealistic’ filtered people (I’m talking Kardashians/Models/Fitness Gurus/ex-models turned Yogi’s et al)
- Try a photo diary – take a photo of yourself each day and write down how you felt about yourself AT THAT MOMENT. Take them over the course of the week/month, hell even year. Try to hold the same pose, maybe in your undies (no one is going to look at it but you) Look back at them at the end of the project. I guarantee that (unless you are also dieting) you will look the same in all the photos yet your emotion or feeling about yourself will be different – this will prove that body image is all in the mind
- Get out and MOVE – yes, of course I am going to recommend you do yoga, it’s my life, but really just do anything that helps you get a sweat on – cross fit, run, swim, dance – it doesn’t matter, just do it, and do it often, I’m talking AT LEAST 4 times per week. Staying fit keeps your body, and more importantly your MIND (hello endorphins) healthy, but it’s hard and it takes commitment.
- Re-assess your diet. Cut out ALL processed foods, junk foods, unhealthy snacks and – gulp – seriously cut down on the alcohol. Use this post as a guide Go processed food free here . Don’t ‘diet’ but think of this as a lifestyle change, a complete change in your habitual nourishment.
- Mediation – start a meditation practice (beginners guide here). By meditating we are training our brain to focus on the present, the power of now, and to accept things for what they are.
- Stop giving a shit, cause no one else does! Seriously, I have a friend who looks like a model, tall, slim, tanned, beautiful sun kissed hair and even she gets bikini panic! Seriously, no one gives a shit about you as they are all too busy self loathing themselves!!! And if you think too much about how you look to find a partner you are looking for the wrong partner. If your friends judge you on your waistline they are not good friends that you need in your life. Which leads nicely to:
- Find a self-esteem friend – you know, you may be lucky enough to have one or more than one already – that pal or sister/mother/brother who loves you for who you are UNCONDITIONALLY and tells you so. He/she will tell you you are amazing when you need to hear it, or better still will be able to tell you to ‘get over yourself’ when you are wallowing in the pool of your self-pity.
Sounds simple right? It is.
WITH PRACTICE, working on a change in your mindset, like everything it will come.
Let me know how you get on! Please comment and start the discussion below!