Two years ago I did a thing ... I did a boudoir shoot. For ME. As a way to acknowledge and honor all the hard work I've done to learn to love myself and my body better. I used to look at my body and only see the flaws. I'd replay all the things that various people have said to me over the years about my body... most of which I internalized in negative ways. I got to the point where I didn't even want to wear a bikini, preferring to cover as much of my body as possible.
My daughter is actually the one who helped me change that, at the young age of 7. I had put a bikini on to go to the pool with her and was standing there looking in the mirror with tears in my eyes, replaying a comment someone once said about me not being "bikini ready." I was just getting ready to change into my one piece when she walked in and said "Mommy, you look so beautiful!" I thanked her and when she walked away, I bawled.
How could I change out of my bikini after that? What kind of message would that send her about body image?
That was the turning point for me to start accepting my body as it was and to start seeing the beautiful parts, too. My trainer Autumn said the other day, true body positivity is accepting our body as it is, AND doing the work to get healthier. That really resonates with me. That's been my focus the last few years. Working to be my healthiest self rather than focusing on losing weight. In fact, I don't even own a scale anymore.
Even more important than shifting my perception of my own external beauty, I've come to love the qualities that make me who I am. My photographer did an amazing job capturing my different aspects... my introspective and reflective side, my strong confidence, my courage, my playfulness, my flirty and sensual side, my laugh, and a little bit of sexy. I remember crying when I went in to view and choose my photos. I saw myself in a whole new light.
Two years later I still have my photos on display in my bedroom. They remind me of all the healing and growth I've done and what I want to model for my daughter as we approach teenage years.
When I was working to schedule my boudoir session two years ago, I briefly contemplated waiting until I "got rid" of my belly. But then I remembered why I was doing it.
It wasn't about having a perfect body. It was about being comfortable in my own skin.
Don't believe everything you think. I saw that quote recently and WOW...! did it grab my attention! I do have a long-term habit of over-thinking and letting my imaginings get the best of me. Usually this is triggered by my own reaction to something that has happened - my internal reaction to something external. Maybe I internalized or personalized someone else's actions, am ruminating about something I did or said, or I'm grappling with a fear or feel worried about something.
Whatever it was that triggered me to get stuck in my head, when I believe thoughts that aren't based in reality, it can negatively impact my behavior, my choices, or how I show up in a relationship.
Not everything I think is true so it's really critical to examine my assumptions and snap judgments. I'm grateful that I've learned to catch myself in this space and to notice when I'm stuck in my head. When I see it happening, it empowers me to challenge my thoughts and bring curiosity to the process so I can explore alternative possibilities. Doing this helps me come back to my center and often reduces feelings of distress or worry.
Most times, I can do this exploration and processing on my own by giving myself the time and space. I use a variety of practices to help me see more clearly, such as a walk in nature, relaxing in the sun, letting myself take a break, soaking in a bubble bath, or writing in my journal to explore what's going on inside.
This inquiry helps me see the ways I may be off track or the lesson I'm being invited to learn about how I'm responding to life circumstances. With more clarity, I can make conscious choices about next steps and move forward.
How do you respond when you catch yourself over-thinking?
Life doesn't always go our way. No matter how badly we may want something, sometimes it's just not the right thing for us or maybe the timing is off. When things get hard, we need to lean into the discomfort and explore our emotions, which are there to inform us.
Through our discomfort and struggles, we learn more about who we are, what we want and don't want, and what truly matters most in our life. As we get clear on these, we make adjustments and align our choices accordingly.
When we face challenges and obstacles, we need to know when to push through and fight for what we want, and when to let go and trust that things are happening exactly as they are meant to. Extending this kind of trust and stepping into the flow can be challenging. It takes discernment, practice, and patience.
We invite more ease and fulfillment into our life when we trust the flow ... knowing that our experiences are moving us along our path to where we are meant to be. Moving in flow with life doesn't mean we don't take action, though.
On the contrary.... we do take action. But before we act, we tune into our own voice, our inner guidance, our own heart. That, my friends, is where the magic happens.
Through it all, we must extend ourselves kindness, compassion, and grace.
And that is one of the ultimate acts of self-love.
Even after alllll the personal growth I've experienced over the last several years, I still occasionally fall prey to worrying about what other people will think about some of my decisions. Over the last two weeks alone, I've become aware of how the fear of others' perceptions have ALMOST impacted my choice-making process on more than one occasion.
I was grappling with an old fear of being judged.
I've done a lot of work to free myself of worrying about other people's perceptions - but that doesn't mean these old habits don't pop up from time to time. Our thought patterns and ways of thinking have been forming over the course of our life and it's not always easy to change them (it takes continual practice...).
It's much easier to continue believing everything we think. But sometimes, our old ways of thinking can be a block and keep us from opening up to new experiences.
A big part of what I do for myself - and with my clients - is to encourage exploration that supports heightened awareness and then real change.
Opening to the possibility of new perspectives, exploring different alternatives than what we have allowed ourselves to consider in the past, and asking ourselves the challenging questions are important pieces of the puzzle.
Often, we already know what's right for us... the answer is somewhere inside. Sometimes we just need help clearing the chatter so we can access it. We need to recognize when it's fear creating the confusion and doubt. We may fear the unknown and uncertainty that change can invite into our life. Perhaps we fear what the changes will require of us. Or maybe, like in my example, we fear being judged for our choices.
To move in the right direction for US, it's critical to silence the "noise" and tune in to what *WE* really want.
When contemplating new options, keep these suggestions in mind:
Be willing to learn and adjust as you go. Even if you make a decision - if things shift for you later, you can ALWAYS change your mind. Nothing needs to be forever.
Keeping these tips in mind as you make your decisions will help you step out of your own way and move in your desired direction.