Getting naked in front of a mirror is supposed to help my self-critic?
I don't think so!
Hey there Beautiful,
This drives me crazy.
I hear different fitness women telling the rest of us to get comfortable with our bodies by standing in front of a mirror naked.
Please tell me why is this ever a good thing to do?
Whenever I’ve done this (and trust me, it's not that often) my inner self-critic will jump up onto the stage, grab the mic, hold a bull horn up to the mic just to ensure that I can hear her, tell the lighting guy to aim the brightest spotlight on her, and then proceed to loudly shout out all of my imperfections to me.
Like I didn’t already know them, thank you very much.
If I was to get comfortable with the way my body looks, then I would wear my jogger sweatpants every single day, continuously eat my mom’s Boston Cream Pie (it’s to die for), throw away every single food item that I have deemed healthy from my kitchen pantry and fridge, never ever, ever, step a foot near the gym, and throw away every piece of makeup, body lotion, wrinkle eliminating cream, and teeth brightening product that I own from my bathroom cabinets.
But I’m not going to do that.
First of all, that’s a lot of money that I would be basically taking a match to since I bought all of those items and second, I’ve fought way too hard to be where I am today and I’m not going to give it all up because I can’t quiet my inner self-critic.
Your self-critic began to show up in junior high, the toughest place for self-confidence to survive.
When I used to work as a photographer, the studio I worked for had an arrangement with a local orthodontist. After patients were finished with treatment, the orthodontist would give them a gift certificate from the photography studio for a free photography session and 5×7 print to celebrate the removal of their braces.
I was the photographer that got to meet and photograph these kids ranging in age between 12-18 years old.
Every single one of those kids had never had a great photograph taken of themselves except for the yearly school picture. And we know how bad those looked.
I didn't care how rich the kid's parents were. I made them feel like the most important person in the room.
To the dismay of my boss, I didn’t care if a kid’s mother had a huge diamond rock for a wedding ring and would purchase an expensive package of prints or if the mom drove up in an ancient, beat up Ford pick up truck that had seen better days and they walked away with just the free 5×7 print.
For the twenty minutes that I photographed each child, it was my mission to make them feel special, that they were beautiful and to somehow boost their fragile self confidence.
I could always tell which kids were the 17-18 year olds because they were the ones that had a bit more self assurance and could carry a conversation with me. They had a firmer footing of who they were.
But with the kids from 6th grade to 10th grade, I could just tell they were still trying to figure out how the world worked and how they would fit in. These kids were uncomfortable in their own skin with so many changes being thrown at them all at once.
And if a kid came in with acne or was overweight, I spent more time with them trying to ensure that for a while they were the most important person in the room and had value.
Have you seen the moment that a child, but especially a young woman, finally sees and believes that she’s pretty?
It’s absolute MAGIC.
I was lucky enough to experience it every time a young woman would come in to view her photographs.
My heart would spread a warm feeling throughout my chest and make my eyes tear up with happiness. When that young woman would look at the images of herself on the projector screen and finally, finally begin to believe that she could be like those models she saw on magazine covers.
Because I don’t care how many times you see those quotes that say what’s on the inside matters much more than what’s on the outside.
The world will see the outside first and make quick non-factual judgments based on what their eyes can see and their brain can imagine.
If someone is attractive but quiet, she must be stuck up.
If someone is covered in tattoos, then she must be a rebel.
If someone is overweight, she’s a slob and can’t take care of herself.
Those young woman who came into the studio already had their self-critic turned up on high and I took every opportunity to beat down their self-critic in the hope that every time she looked at the photo of herself at home, she would be reminded that she was beautiful.
I worked so hard to combat every negative comment a woman would say about herself.
I also know how hard adult women can be on themselves because also at the photography studio I was in charge of sales.
After a family had their photography session, two weeks later their images would be ready to be viewed and the family would come back in to choose their selections. Most of the time, the wife would come in by herself.
During that 45 minutes to an hour, my job was to sell them photographs and ideas of how they could group images to create a wall display. And yes,
I did do that BUT what I really did during that time was knock down every single negative comment that woman said about herself.
Some of them included:
“Oh my God I’m so fat in that picture.”
“I look so old.”
“I hate that picture of me.”
“Look at those lines on my face.”
“I hate my smile.”
“I think I need to get plastic surgery.”
“I really need to lose weight.”
“I look like my mother.”
A woman is her own worst critic but never more so when viewing photographs of herself.
I don’t know if having the ability with our cell phones to take multiple digital photos of ourselves until we get the one that sucks the least is a good or a bad thing.
And having the ability to manipulate the photo to tuck a waist in, reduce the crows feet wrinkles, or remove a double chin is definitely not good when overdone.
I know the power of Photoshop and how it can make a women not look like herself anymore.
There is NOTHING worse than seeing a woman’s photograph online, then meeting that same woman in person, and your brain momentarily stutters as it tries to reconcile the differences from what the perfection in the photograph showed and the real face gazing at you.
It’s like when you haven’t seen a female movie star in a while and then she’s walking the red carpet and you think, “Wow, she’s changed.”
So while in that darkened room, looking at the images of themselves and their families, women would berate and degrade how they looked and I would negate every horrible comment in order to build back up their self-confidence.
The women would never criticize their families outer appearances.
Her self-critic directed all of the nasty barbs to herself and sometimes it was hard to listen to.
It just made me more determined for that woman to see how beautiful she was.
But it was hard trying to undo years and years of self-criticism that may have started with their own mothers and how their mother would speak to them about how they looked.
Words really do matter and it starts with how we talk to ourselves and others about how we look.
I've worked hard to have my body look the way it does now.
I really hate it when women say to me, “Oh, it must be so easy for you. You’ve probably always been skinny.”
No, no, no, no, no.
My anger will immediately rise up from the depths and depending on my mood and how well I know the person will dictate how sarcastic and snarky my retort will be.
That statement definitely says a lot more about them than it does about me BUT they are making a general assumption with one glance at me, without asking the right question, “What do you do to stay so fit? It must take a lot of work.”
Yes, yes it does. I
was forty pounds heavier after I had my second son.
And I’ve worked and worked since then to ensure that I never felt and looked that way again. I felt sluggish, unhappy, depressed, tired, and that I had to try harder to feel like I belonged. I looked puffy. I couldn’t see or feel my hip bones. I was wearing pant sizes that I had NEVER worn before.
But I worked at it every single day until it became a part of who I am. The day that I saw my clavicle for the first time made my soooo happy. The day I could do a few burpees in a row without stopping made me smile.
I’m not entirely blameless.
I’ve done this in my head with people I know.
I have assumed that they can eat anything, never gain a pound, don’t exercise and still look fantastic.
And then one day at a casual company picnic they wear short shorts (because you’ve only seen them in pants at work) and A-HA!
You discover a chink in the perfectly crafted armor you thought they had, their legs look like tree trunks!
And now you go around for the rest of the picnic thinking, “I don’t look so bad, do I?”
I hate when I do this.
Seeing another woman’s probable weak spot makes me feel better about myself. The only redeeming quality is that I now, luckily, can recognize when I do this and stop myself mid-thought and change the direction of my thought.
I don’t want to make myself feel better at the expense of someone else.
If you don’t like something about yourself, then you have to be willing to put in the work to change it.
Procrastinating about it is just your way of avoiding doing something you perceive as hard.
I’m not going to lie.
There are things about me that I would love to change but I may never be able to unless I spend a crapload of money OR put in a ton of work.
So until I decide that I really want to do that, thank goodness Spanx exists.
If you want to look at yourself naked in a mirror and get comfortable with yourself, you go on with your bad self.
But don’t you dare stare at your nakedness and have your self-critic list ALL the things you believe are wrong with you.
How is that truly going to help you?
What if you instead listed all the things you liked about your body?
Not just the things you see in the outside but include what’s on the inside.
It’s easy to evaluate the outside package but we never really acknowledge the inside where it really matters.
I’ll give you an example of each.
What do I love about my outside?
One of the things I love about my outside appearance is my hair. I got really lucky in the genetics department.
I got my mom’s hair thickness and slight reddish color and from my dad I got the waviness.
When I curl my hair it keeps the curl especially if I give it some help with hair products. I like it long and I know my husband likes it long too.
I asked him recently if he would mind that I cut it in a layered bob and he said reluctantly, “I guess so.”
I looked at him and knew he was so not telling me the truth. I asked him, “You like it long don’t you?”
He said, “ Yes but its your hair. You can do what you want with it. “
And what do I love about my inside?
One of the things I love about my inside is my ability to problem solve and come up with solutions.
I can listen to a friend’s problem and come up with at least three to five ways to solve it or give ideas and suggestions to view the situation differently if they believe that the problem is unsolvable.
My brain is wired in such a way to think through different scenarios quickly and discard ones that won’t help.
I’ve had this ability for a long time and I love it.
Be ready when your self-critic decides to rush the stage and tell you what's wrong with you.
So when you hear your self-critic’s high heels begin to click, click, click towards the stage with her bullhorn swinging in her hand as she approaches the mic, throw a jar of marbles on the floor and watch as she rolls an ankle, tries to recover, lets out a shriek and falls into the orchestra pit.
Don’t allow her to derail your day by telling you your hair sucks.
Don’t allow her to help you avoid family photographs because she’s telling you you’re overweight.
Don’t allow her to tell you not to go after a dream that you want because you’re too old.
Being aware of your self-critic will allow you to really look at what’s she’s telling you and figure out if it’s fact versus fiction.
Replace her negativity with the things that you love about yourself.
Make a list of all the things you love about yourself, or even better, email or text five people that know you and ask them, “What’s my superpower?”
You will be AMAZED at what they tell you. And not surprisingly, many of their answers will match. It’s hard to figure out what we’re good at but ask a friend or family member and they will gladly tell you.
If they ask you why you want to know just tell them you have a school or work project and asking friends about your superpower is a part of the project. Or don’t make up anything and just tell them to do it and don’t ask questions.
Then take those superpowers and write them down on a piece of paper and hang it where you will see it everyday. That reminder will help to quiet your self-critic and remind yourself that you have value and are meant to do amazing things.
Go find out your superpowers!
So go do it!
Don’t even listen to the last part of this episode.
Go text or email separately at least five people you know and ask them, “What’s my superpower?”
Why are you still listening?
Go do it right now!
I’ll talk to you later Beautiful!