Mondays can be rough for many of us, and this doesn’t create the ideal environment for building a better body image. To help you turn that around, every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit to help boost your body image – and kick-start the week on a positive note.

Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!

I used to look outside for everything. Specifically everything that I should have looked on the inside for. Things like happiness, validation, confidence and self-esteem.

I wasn’t aware of my beauty until someone acknowledged it. If I didn’t hear it often, then clearly it wasn’t true.

I didn’t think I was good enough until someone said I was.

I would cling to compliments so hard that if I let go, I felt like my whole sense of self would crumble. As though compliments were the only things that validated my talents and my looks.

And I looked to being thin as a vehicle to deliver happiness and essentially, at its core, my self-worth.

Poor body image, I think, develops in part because something is missing on the inside, so we turn to the outside to mold, manipulate and minimize. Because we’ll be worthy once we drop the weight. We’ll be pretty once we look a certain way. While all the while, we’re insecure about our insides.

Our general sense of self is a leaf in the wind.

In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott recalls her experience after the publication of one of her books. I think so many of us can relate to Lamott’s powerful need for validation – and the intoxication it creates. And I also hope you find her realization inspiring:

…when this book of mine came out, the one that did pretty well, the one that necessitated the buying of a new dress, I found myself stoned on all the attention, and then lost and derailed, needing a new fix every couple of days and otherwise going into withdrawal. My insides became completely uninhabitable, as if I’d wandered into a penny arcade with lots of bells ringing and lights flashing and lots of junk food, and I’d been there too long. I wanted peace, peace and quiet, but at the same time I didn’t want to leave. I was like one of the bad boys in “Pinocchio” who flock to the island of pleasure and grow donkey ears. I knew my soul was sick and that I needed spiritual advice, and I knew also that this advice shouldn’t be terribly sophisticated. So I went to see the pastor of my son’s preschool.

…I said that I was all over the place, up and down, scattered, high, withdrawing, lost, and in the midst of it all trying to find some elusive sense of serenity. “The world can’t give that serenity,” he said. “The world can’t give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts.”

“I hate that,” I said.

“I know. But the good news is that by the same token, the world can’t take it away.”

So instead of looking outside for all the things that are supposed to make us happy, strong and worthy, look inside.

No one can take a positive body image away from you, no matter how critical their comments. No one can take your worth away. Or your confidence. Or your beauty and sense of self.

Sure, it’s a lot of pressure knowing that you’re the only one who holds the power in boosting your body image, in developing your self-image, and in continuously working to build both.

But it’s also incredibly empowering.

Have you looked outside of yourself for self-worth and validation? Can you relate to Lamott’s writing? How do you look inward? How have you developed your self-worth?