The following post is a guest post by…. you guessed it! The world famous and super fabulous body-image expert Summer Innanen. And she’s got a brand new book out that’s available for FREE on the 27th… read to the end to get a link for it!
When you’ve struggled to have a positive body image, it can be difficult to feel optimistic about getting to a point where you love yourself. As someone who spent most of her life hating her body and measuring her self-worth by her jean size, the idea of loving myself seemed completely far-fetched. Feeling comfortable in my own skin was a state of being that I’d never experienced.
Years later (with lots of self-discovery and support!) I can truthfully tell you that I rarely think anything negative about my body anymore. I don’t compare myself to other women. I don’t let my body hold me back from wearing clothes that aren’t “flattering.” I no longer seek others’ approval to build my self-worth. Through this process and helping other women to do the same, I’ve learned so much. I want to share some of the things that I wish I’d known when I started this journey – these are excerpt that are pulled from my book Body Image Remix.
Here are 5 must-know things about self-love.
- What self-love really means.
Contrary to what certain body wash companies might have you believe, loving yourself doesn’t mean you walk through a door that says “beautiful”. We misinterpret self-love as meaning we’ll wake up and wink at our reflection in the mirror everyday. While it’s great to have moments where you feel sexy (and you certainly deserve it!), I want you to know that embodying self-love is so much more than this.
At its core, having a positive body image is about having unconditional love and compassion for yourself. It’s about knowing ourselves, showing up as ourselves, and treating ourselves with trust, respect, and kindness. It’s about knowing that we’re enough just as we are – even if we don’t like every part of ourselves. Focus on treating yourself with the utmost kindness and respect, regardless of your appearance, and you will find peace of mind much more readily.
- It’s about your beliefs.
When I ask women what they struggle with when it comes to body image, they always mention parts of their body that they “hate”. Your body is not what you struggle with in reality. What you struggle with is the negative voice in your head that is telling you there is something wrong with you. Changing your body is not going to make that go away.
While your self-loathing may dissipate momentarily if your body shape changes, it’s generally a false sense of validation that is not intrinsic or long-lasting. Unless you deal with the beliefs inside your head, thinness is not going to be the catalyst to your self-love. This change needs to come from within, and you get there by changing your mindset. A huge piece of cultivating positive body image is about identifying the beliefs that are holding you back, challenging them and choosing new beliefs that will support you moving forward.
- It’s not an overnight process.
Self-love is a complex masterpiece and it requires patience. It is not a diet. There’s no immediate payoff. If you have been buying season tickets to the crash diet mayhem in our culture, you might tend to expect big changes in short periods of time. Cultivating self-love happens in the complete opposite way—it consists of so many different layers, inputs, and outputs. There are huge rewards, believe me, but they are often less tangible and not always immediate. Patience is extremely important in this process.
The journey to self-love is the furthest thing from linear and it’s definitely not the shortest distance between two points. Some days, you might feel like you’ve taken three steps forward and then five steps back. Sometimes, you might feel a euphoric sense of peace, and all seems right in the world. The beauty of this journey is that with each setback, you learn more about yourself. You appreciate how far you have come and become better equipped to surf the rough waves in the future.
It’s impossible to jump from hate to love, so celebrate every step you take along the way.
- It’ll feel scary and that’s a good thing.
I want you to get in touch with what you want in life by loving yourself—to feel more confident in social situations? To hit the beach in a bathing suit? To walk past a mirror without doing a stomach check? One of the things I encourage women to do is to start doing the things they have been avoiding in the body they have today. Whatever it is for you, I guarantee there is a level of fear that rises to the surface when you think about doing those things. Usually this fear is rooted in, “OMG, what will people think of me!” It’s critical to recognize that this is the good kind of fear. This is the kind of fear you want to link arms and dance into the sunset with.
Here’s the truth: Loving yourself and showing up to this party know as life as your true self takes serious guts and is the ultimate act of rebellion in a society that tells you who you should be. That means it’s going to feel scary to do the things you’ve been avoiding. Accept and lean into this fear knowing that every time you take action, it will get easier and ultimately it’s going to lead you to a more freeing and joyful existence.
- Compassion over confidence.
On the heels of that last point, stepping into your fear and faking it until I make it is only one piece of the puzzle. We don’t always need more confidence; what we really need more of is compassion.
Confidence is the courage to show up as the woman you want to be today. Compassion is the capacity to embrace imperfection and be OK with the outcome, no matter what happens. One of my favorite unattributed Pinterest quotes is: “Confidence is not ‘they will like me,’ it’s ‘I’ll be OK if they don’t.’” Where this quote falls short is that confidence doesn’t actually help you to be OK if they don’t—compassion does. Compassion helps us to forgive and be kind to ourselves and is all about the ability to relate to yourself with kindness. If you’re relating to yourself in a harsh, disrespectful, or unkind way, it’s time to change that. Being gentle, kind, forgiving, and understanding to yourself via compassion is the most important skill to master in order to foster self-love.
If you’re ready to get on with the life you’ve been putting on hold and stop letting the scale, your jean size, dietary macros and Fitbit points dictate your self-worth, then get the book Body Image Remix for free when it releases on Friday November 27th here.