“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~Louise L. Hay
Years ago, I had this friend. She was gorgeous and fit—and she ate whatever she wanted. A burger with the bread. A burrito, if she wanted it. She even ate (gasp!) pizza whenever she felt like it.
I was in awe.
How did she do it?
How was this possible?
What was her secret?
You see, I never allowed myself any of those things. I used to think that being happy and feeling good in your body directly correlated with the latest fad diet, exercise class, or cellulite-busting cream.
The fact that my girlfriend never thought twice about any of these things and still looked amazing and was way happier than me confused me.
I (obviously) had this whole thing wrong.
Slowly, as I began to do more personal work and studied nutrition and how confident, healthy, happy people viewed their relationship with their body and food, I had a huge aha moment.
The real secret to loving your body (and yourself) had nothing to do with diets, cleanses, or detoxes. It had everything to do with the way you think. More specifically, how you think.
Hang with me.
You see, most of us judge ourselves, and we judge ourselves harshly.
Judgment, especially of ourselves, gets us nowhere fast. Instead, it usually gets us in a pretty bad place.
You judge that you’ve already had a crappy food day, so what does it really matter if you have more chips, ice cream, or a couple more slices of pizza?
You judge that you can’t change, you’ve tried dieting and losing weight for years, so why even try again?
You judge that your body is so awful it’ll never change, so it must be hated.
And then you go around discussing with your friends how you so need to lose weight and how you’re going on a diet tomorrow—or you’ll never be able to get that partner, that job, or heck, even that friend—because you’re not attractive enough, thin enough, cool enough you’re just not enough.
Ever had any of these thoughts? I have
And you want to know something?
They lead you nowhere. They keep you stuck. Because you’re judging yourself so severely that it’s too hard to focus on what it is you actually need to do to move forward. Not to mention you’re setting yourself up to fulfill a prophecy.
Think about it.
Could you imagine, if you told a child, “You’re never going to succeed in school. You just won’t. You’re not smart enough or driven enough.”
Do you then know what that child is going to think and do?
They’re going to think they’re not smart enough. They’re going to not try. If they’re repeatedly told they can’t do it, they’re going to think what’s the point in trying?
This is the same thing that happens to us!
If we constantly walk around, judging ourselves for everything we’re not or our failures, and we tell ourselves this over and over and over again, guess what? We’re pretty gosh-darn likely to fulfill the expectations that we’ve set for ourselves.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
It’s when, and only when, you realize you’re judging and choose to see things differently that you’ll be able to see change. Pull your thoughts back, quiet the mind, and most importantly, switch to a mindset of observation.
Because if you want outer change (that lasts), there’s no other way to do it without inner change.
So how do you start observing instead of judging yourself?
1. Tune in to your thoughts.
The very first piece of this is you’ve got to start tuning in and paying attention to your thoughts. This will have you living a much more conscious and awake life, and when you’re in this place you'll automatically start to make better choices for yourself.
2. See how often you judge yourself.
Again, we can’t change something we’re not aware of. So start paying attention to how often you’re unkind to yourself and judging yourself. If you wouldn’t talk to your parent, child, brother or sister, cousin, friend, or even a stranger the way you talk to yourself, then you know something has got to change.
3. Reframe from a place of observation.
When you feel ready, start to reframe your thoughts. Remove the judgment piece. Observe the facts of a situation. Pull lessons for next time. Choose growth.
Instead of judgment mode:
I totally overate today. I’m so gross. Everyone was right. I can’t do this! What was I thinking? Why is it so easy for everyone except me? There must be something seriously wrong with me. I’m a failure. I don’t even know why I try. I’m going to finish this bag of chips. It doesn’t matter anyways.
Choose observation mode:
Yikes. I really didn’t eat well today. I don’t feel good about that. How did that happen? I think it’s because I skipped breakfast and didn’t pack my lunch and went too long without eating. Next time I’ll prepare better. At least I’m aware. Even though today wasn’t great, I’m going to make myself a nice healthy dinner tonight. It’ll make me feel good.
4. Dig deep.
Once you’re aware of how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, and/or observations, start to ask yourself the tough questions:
How did that make me feel?
What did I appreciate about it?
What’s my biggest takeaway?
You’ll notice that some of this was done in point #3 above.
5. Start doing.
And then, when you’re really ready, you start doing. You start pulling from your answers in step #4, and you put them into action. This is where the real (life-changing) transformative fun begins to happen.
Remember my gorgeous fit friend in the beginning of the story?
She lived her life by observing. She observed when she was hungry versus full, and she ate when she was hungry and stopped when she was full.
She knew what people made her feel good versus bad, so she surrounded herself more with the people who lit her up inside. She was conscious enough to know when she was being unkind to herself, so could pull herself out of it.
You can do all of this too plus some, and it’ll change your life. It changed mine.
Because when you stop judging yourself, you allow yourself to connect with your true loving self. Not the you living in fear. And it’s here, that you’re aware and awake enough to make the best decisions for where you want to go in your wellness journey.
Changing your perception from judgmental to observational truly grants you the chance to grow into your best healthiest happiest self. You’re able to look inside yourself and have deep realizations about what you need to feel good in your body and to love yourself. That alone is significant. Keep going.
Love your body image via Shutterstock