I really like the blog Marc And Angel Hack Life. It’s creative, clever, thoughtful and helpful. The inspiration for today’s post comes from one of their old posts on 20 questions you should ask yourself every Sunday. Marc recommends spending about 30 minutes every Sunday for self-reflection.
So, below, you’ll find my version of a self-reflection session that relates to body image. You can work through the questions today, if you prefer, or this weekend. The point is to think about how you’ve treated yourself — and others — this week and what improvements you’ll try to make the next week.
1. When I looked in the mirror, what’s the first thought I had? For some of us, it’s like we have negative thoughts on speed dial. Without blinking an eye, when we look in the mirror, we start looking for faults. Maybe you grab at the skin on your stomach or thighs, and say “Ugh.” Maybe you sigh in disappointment overall.
Figuring out those first thoughts when you look in the mirror are important. They let you know how you really feel.
I absolutely love this quote from Elizabeth Patch:
Rejecting and criticizing what you see in the mirror changes nothing.
Accepting and respecting what you see changes everything!
- Tip: If looking in the mirror is a negative experience, think about saying something positive instead, whether you believe it 100 percent or not. Think about one of your favorite features (or a “neutral” feature that you can’t find fault with). Think about what features you got from mom and dad. Or, next time, just smile at yourself — that’s it. Just practice looking at yourself and smiling.
2. This past week, what’s one thing I did to improve my body image or to lead a healthier life? Some examples might be: journaling your feelings instead of bottling them up, saying “thank you” to a compliment (instead of denying it and having I-don’t-deserve-it thoughts), eating when you were hungry, not feeling guilty for enjoying a meal, telling someone how you felt.
- Tip: It’s great to celebrate these “victories,” no matter how small they might seem. Sunny of Healthy Girl regularly talks about little victories, which she writes are “the small (yet important) steps, moments, thoughts that eventually pave the way to big changes and recovery.” So consider what your victory was and acknowledge it.
3. What’s one way I will improve my body image this week? Remember this doesn’t have to be a big goal, just a concrete one. You might strive to listen to your body’s internal cues — such as eating when you’re hungry or walking instead of running when you’re exhausted — or find a physical activity that you genuinely enjoy. You might throw away a magazine that makes you feel bad or choose a “blankie” that boosts your body image.
- Tip: For ideas on how to improve your body image this week, check out the posts on body-image boosters.
4. Have I read something inspiring, uplifting or joyful? Reading positive words is important to our overall well-being. It puts things into perspective.
5. What made me laugh or smile? Humor heals. In fact, according to Therese Borchard of Beyond Blue, it heals in these nine ways. Therese writes, “…human beings can heal (at least partially!) from a host of different illnesses if they learn how to laugh.” I think humor can heal body image, too, because, like reading something joyful, it puts life into perspective. And it gets those feel-good hormones running through your body. And you start to realize how great it is to laugh.
- Tip: Here are six ways to bring laughter into your life. Also, here’s a laugh-out-loud post from Elizabeth Patch on surviving the holidays.
6. What did I struggle with? This can be relate to your body image or how things are going in general. Stress can greatly impact how you view your body, how you eat and how well you take care of yourself. It’s all a cycle. Consider the tough parts of the week, and try to process them, using healthy ways to cope.
- Tip: These are several of my favorite coping tips from Therese’s new book, The Pocket Therapist, which might help. If you’re struggling with emotional eating or just want to create an arsenal of coping skills that you can instantly use, you can also make an inspiration box. Here’s how. If your stress is job-related, you can also try these tips .
7. What is one thing my body helped me do last week? When we focus more on how our bodies help us, we focus much less on bashing ourselves about not fitting into a narrow – and unrealistic – ideal. Whether you’d like to lose weight or you have health concerns, you can still find a number of things that your body helps you do. Here’s mine: This past week, my body helped me ride my bike, which lets me enjoy the gorgeous weather and eases any anxiety.
- Tip: Having a tough time thinking of things? I created a list of 50 things my body helps me do. Maybe you’ll find one thing you can relate to. Once you start naming one or two things, I promise you’ll just keep going.
8. How did I help someone else? Helping others lets us help ourselves, too. It feels good to help others. You didn’t have to create world peace this week, but maybe you talked to a friend when she was upset, gave a total stranger a compliment, donated items to Goodwill or helped your child with her homework.
- Tip: Here’s a list of 25 ways to help others from Zen Habits, and a website with small acts of kindness.
9. What made me feel beautiful this week? For some women, feeling beautiful comes during exercise, time spent with their kids or the sweet words said by their significant other. Think about an activity or a phrase that made you feel beautiful during the week.
- Tip: Whatever it was that made you feel beautiful, enjoy it. Bask in that beauty and remember how wonderful you felt. That experience doesn’t have to be fleeting. What’s stopping you from feeling like that all the time or at least more often than not?
10. What am I thankful for? Think of one or two things that you’re thankful for. It can be something that happened this week or something in general. Here are some nice quotes on gratitude:
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~ Marcel Proust
Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~ William Arthur Ward
- Tip: Consider keeping a gratitude journal, and write in it at the end of the week (be sure to date it). How great – and gratifying – to read it after a year! Talk about another thing that puts things into perspective.
What questions would you include on this list? How would you answer the above? What are some other ways you self-reflect?
P.S. Be sure to check out Confessions of a Recovering Compulsive Eater today: Eating disorder advocate and author Jenni Schaefer guests posts, and love2eatinpa is giving away one copy of Goodbye ED, Hello Me. Like I said in the comments, years ago, my younger self was starving for such words of wisdom.
Have a wonderful weekend!