How often does a woman have a negative or anxious thought about herself on a daily basis? According to a survey taken by Glamour Magazine, 97% of women have negative thoughts toward their bodies on average of 13 times a day. Sadly, some admitted to having these negative thoughts up to 100 times a day.
Throughout my own life I too have had a love/hate relationship with my appearance. At times I feel like Cleopatra, ready to make love with every light on. On other days, I am reminded how every tasty carbohydrate I put into my mouth, sticks to my thighs. I notice every lump and bump, every wrinkle. I see all the flaws.
Why? What is going on with the female psyche? Why are we beautiful women so hard on ourselves? When did it begin and can we ever silence that inner voice which is constantly putting us down?
The Female Brain
Louann Brizendine, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the author of The Female Brain. says that "It turns out there's an area of your brain that's assigned the task of negative thinking," It's judgmental. It says 'I'm too fat' or 'I'm too old.' This worrywart part of the brain is the anterior cingulate cortex. In women, it's actually larger and more influential, as is the brain circuitry for observing emotions in others. "The reason we think females have more emotional sensitivity," says Brizendine, "is that we've been built to be immediately responsive to the needs of a nonverbal infant. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing."
"The hormonal surges in the female brain—what Brizendine describes as the rising tide of estrogen and progesterone—make a woman more sensitive to emotional nuance, such as disapproval or rejection. The way you interpret feedback from other people can depend on where you are in your cycle. "Some days the feedback will reinforce your self-confidence," says Brizendine, "and other days it will destroy you."
Self esteem is formed at an early age and the relationships we have, affect our personal thought patterns. A stern parent's words can impact us for the rest of our lives. Spending time as an adult with someone who puts us down or verbally attacks us, only perpetuates the problem.
- Problems in a relationship can lower your self esteem and confidence
- Rejection often causes problems with self confidence and how you express yourself
- Criticism generates low self esteem
- Verbally or physically abusive relationships have a hugely negative affect on your life
It is a highly competitive culture we live in and we have often been told we have to look better to be better. Our sense of self esteem goes up and down like a yo-yo depending on hormone levels, what we had for dinner, or who we are sharing our time with, so how can we stop beating ourselves up?
It's time to remove those verbal boxing gloves. Healing starts with you.
STEPS TO LOVING YOUR BODY/YOURSELF
TREAT YOURSELF WITH KINDNESS ALWAYS IN ALL WAYS
'If others are worthy of your kindness, aren't you also worthy of your kindness?
If you make a mistake, forgive yourself. If you want to eat a cookie, do so without guilt and be joyful. If you have accomplished something, big or small, congratulate and be proud of yourself. Tell yourself thank you often.
- Give Yourself Recognition - Be very aware of your own achievements, large and small.
- Forgive Yourself - We all mess up. Stop expecting yourself to be perfect.
- Pamper Yourself - One of the best ways to show yourself kindness is to take good care of yourself. Soak in a bubble bath, get a massage or purchase that favorite dress you have been admiring. Whatever makes you feel pampered, take some time for yourself to indulge.
SILENCE THE NEGATIVE INNER VOICE
When we speak negatively toward ourselves, we are verbally abusing ourselves. It is very important to pay attention to the things we say and how they are impacting us.
- Practice positive reinforcement daily. Just say, "STOP" any time a negative thought or word pops into your brain toward yourself. Take a a breath, and counteract it with positive words instead. Example; when looking in the mirror and your inner voice screams, "My arms are too flabby"... replace it with, "I am beautiful and I cant wait to work out my arms and make them stronger". Shut down all the negative words against yourself immediately.
- Listen to how often you get triggered to think something negative about your body, your actions, or your personality. Allow yourself time to reprogram your thoughts and patterns. Remember, Never say anything negative toward yourself. Not once. Not ever.
BE COMPASSIONATE WITH YOURSELF
Be your own best friend. You would never say mean things to your best friend for fear of hurting their feelings, right? Remember that when listening to your inner voice. Compassion is the greatest feminine asset. It is the soothing repairer. A woman's compassion is used to nurture her young and to spread kindness to mankind. It will help you heal.
How many times have you given a compliment to someone to then see them beaming with joy? Now, don't you deserve that? When you try on that new dress, tell yourself you look good in that dress (even if it is a bit tighter then it used to be). That's what you would tell your best friend. The next time you look in the mirror, focus on the beautiful things that make you unique. Look at yourself with beautiful loving compassionate eyes. It's that same love you offer to your closest friends that you must bestow upon yourself.
Jennifer Carter, PhD, often recommends exercise for her clients, particularly for those who are anxious or feeling depressed. If you've ever gone for a run after a stressful day, chances are you felt amazing afterward. "The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect. But the effects of physical activity extend beyond the short-term. Research shows that exercise can also help alleviate long-term depression."
I know it may seem difficult to distinguish old habits and patterns, but it is a journey that has such rewards and you deserve it. Today, give yourself a huge hug. Today, show yourself appreciation. As a woman, you are powerful, compassionate and beautiful today and every day - just as you are.
We love you - The Happy Chin