Do you ever look in the mirror and just feel… BLEH, unattractive?
I feel you. If you’re human, you’ve prob been there.
As I’m writing this in 2020 (hello Covid pandemic!), I have certainly had my fair share of moments where I’ve actually said what the actual fuck to myself when looking in the mirror. (Sry Louise Hay, I know that’s a big no no).
Let’s just say the Covid “19” happened to me in weight, not sickness. (If you feel me, you feel me lol)
But to be honest, I’m ok! Sure, I’ve had my wtf moments, but in general, I’m a happy, glass half full, perpetually positive person. Back in my 20’s I wouldn’t have been caught dead with extra weight on my body, and now I guess I’ve just experienced how amazing my body is and have a new appreciation for it – I mean birthing a child is no joke, so I still love myself lots (even more now actually) since having a baby and becoming a mom.
But honestly, you don’t have to be a mom to appreciate what your body has done for you. One of the things I remind Lily when I feel her heart beating is that her heart is working for her body is so perfectly and every moment of every day her heart keeps beating for her; even when she sleeps her body is taking care of her.
Isn’t that so sweet?? Well, it’s doing the same thing for YOU!
Our bodies are simply incredible.
Did you know that everything about you is amazingly perfect at this moment? You are a spirit living in a human body (you aren’t a body you have a body), and if your exterior has a few more pounds, dips, and wrinkles than maybe you’d prefer, you are still so fucking magical.
You are totally worthy of loving yourself and seeing beauty right now.
In fact, the way to attract more of what you physically desire to see in the mirror starts with LOVING the self, and appreciation for what is. Self hatred creates ZERO progress and actually will attract more of everything you dislike.
K. Let’s nerd out.
If insecurity and low self-esteem are things you struggle with, you’re not alone, honey, In fact, neuroscience has shown that these are very human tendencies, and that there’s a scientific explanation behind why we’re so hard on ourselves.
Do you ever struggle with insecurity, low self-esteem, feeling unattractive, or catch yourself comparing your life to the “perfect” ones you see on social media? Well hey, don’t we all from time to time! In fact, neuroscience has shown that this is a very human trait, and that there’s a scientific explanation behind why we’re so hard on ourselves.
It’s called the Negativity Bias (I’ll say NB for short).
Basically, our brains are hardwired for negativity- which means we are more likely to see the negative things before we notice the positive things. AND, the negative things weigh us down emotionally more than the positive things lift us up. Why is that? Because this is a psychological characteristic that kept our hunter-gatherer ancestors safe for thousands of years.
To stay alive, they had to constantly scan their environment for predators. They had to stay vigilant and notice instantly if something was wrong, so they could either fight the enemy or flee for their lives.
Over generations, this conditioned and trained our brains to hyper-focus on the negative (hence, the NB). It’s something we continue to inherit even though we’re no longer running from saber-toothed tigers in the wild! I mean thank the lord right.
When you have a negative body image or struggle with insecurity, it’s because your mind is hyper-focusing on everything you don’t like, or consider “wrong” about yourself. To develop a positive body image, you have to tame that old NB and put a new positivity bias in its place.
Stay with me because it’s soooo much easier than it sounds!
Below, you’ll find my master list of things you can do on the inside and out to start feeling better about yourself TODAY. It’s a combo of positive psychology practices and my personal health + beauty hacks (because let’s face it, this is the Miss Ashley Diana blog and not just any old self-help book!). Together, they’ll help you rewire the Negativity Bias and make you feel like a million bucks!
Quick Tip 👇🏻
Start with the ones that excite and inspire you and add more as you go! Like all personal growth work, these exercises should be approached with a fun, light-hearted attitude. Nothing you try here will make you worse off- and if you want to modify or personalize any part to make it feel like your own, go for it! Find what works for you and trust that the results will be worth the work.
PART ONE: the inside
- START A SELF-LOVE JOURNAL: this is a dedicated space to cultivate self-love, self-worth, acceptance, and appreciation. It’s the ultimate place to develop that new positivity bias! You’ll do it by completing THESE writing prompts (and continuing to add to them on a regular basis)
- List the top 10 things you like about yourself on the inside (this is about acknowledging your inner beauty- qualities, traits, values, personality characteristics, cute quirks, innate strengths and talents)
- List the top 10 things you like about yourself on the outside
- Create a Body Gratitude List and write 10 thank you’s to your body. Here’s one example: “I thank my legs for being such warriors and carrying me through the entire day. I can always rely on you, and you never complain! You are strong, dependable, and beautiful. Because of you, I can do all of the fun things, like dancing around the living room, playing with my dog, and skiing every winter. You carry me wherever I need to go. Thank you. I love you.” As you go through your different body parts, think about how they serve you and why they deserve to be appreciated. It doesn’t matter what size, shape, or color you are- you are always deserving of love and respect, especially from yourself!
- Start a WIN LIST and add to it daily! Begin by writing down your biggest achievements, and continue by adding daily accomplishments, no matter how small. This is one of my favorite things to do!
- AFFIRMATIONS: Your thoughts are EVERYTHING, and affirmations are simply thoughts you chose to think. You repeat them daily, and through repetition, you become the master of your mind and mood! Every feeling and emotion you have first starts as a thought. So, if you want to start feeling better about yourself, you have to upgrade the quality of your thoughts. Makes sense, right? This is the basis for rewiring that Negativity Bias! The key is to repeat them daily, at a minimum once after waking up and once before bed. If you want the BEST resource, check out Affirmation Babe, and/or all the blogs here on affirmations!
- CONNECT WITH YOUR BODY: What makes you feel sexy and alive in your body? For some it’s lengthening and strengthening exercises like yoga, intuitive stretching, or pilates. Some like to take it slow with foam rolling (I LOVE LoRox!). Others love to let their hair down with exotic dances like salsa, dancehall, belly dance, or pole fitness (my absolute favorite exercise!) Also on that topic, twerking CAN be a spiritual practice if you use it to connect with the divine feminine! And others prefer more self-care stuff like bubble baths and self-administered oils massages (try abhyanga!). The point is to set aside special one-on-one time where you can give your body that affection, attention, and intimacy it deserves!
- PATTERN INTERRUPTS: Positive psychology hack! Every time you catch yourself obsessing over an imperfection (those extra 5 pounds around your hips, the angle of your nose, the cellulite that just appeared out of nowhere… whatever your hang up is), STOP and say 3 positive things. Also do this when you catch yourself criticizing and judging others! A similar practice is challenging yourself to find one beautiful thing about every single person you meet. You can do this at parties, dinners, conferences, or even just people watching while standing in line at Whole Foods. This exercise isn’t for scrolling through IG – it’s for real, every day human beings you encounter. It’s so simple, yet doing this over time will actually train your mind to see the beauty within + all around you. The more you intentionally notice the good, the more you will automatically notice the good. I’ll repeat that. The more you notice the good, the more you’ll notice the good! Remember what we said about replacing the negativity bias with a new positivity bias? This is how!
- ROMANCE YOURSELF: Take yourself on a date, spoil and pamper yourself rotten… because you’re worthy of it! When you acknowledge and CELEBRATE how valuable and special you truly are, you’ll no longer feel the need for external validation.
- MEDITATION: Huge game changer! Neuroscience has revealed so many incredible benefits of meditation. But this blog post is about addressing confidence and self-esteem specifically, so here’s what I want you to do! Download Unplug (it’s the Netflix of Meditation, super modern and user friendly). Most of the meditations are under 15-20 minutes and there are tons of relevant classes to explore, like Meditation for Confidence, Mindful Self-Compassion, Gratitude Meditation, Loving Kindness — you get the idea. All of them make me feel so uplifted!
- LIFE AUDIT / SOCIAL CLEANSE / DETOX: You can’t expect to have a positive life or positive results if you’re surrounded by negativity. I’ll define negativity as anything or anyone that weighs you down or makes you feel like shit. Learning to love your curves while following stick-skinny, heavily filtered models is a little counter-productive, don’t you think? Real life relationships, who you follow on IG, who you watch on youtube… basically everyone you pay attention to is going to have some sort of impact on your subconscious mind. So choose wisely! …and “unfollow” as needed. If you want to find more body positive role models, scroll to the bottom of this post. I listed a bunch under the “Additional Resources” section!
PART TWO: the outside
As a hair pro of 14+ years, I believe that how you present yourself on the outside can dramatically influence the way you feel on the inside. So Part Two of this blog is basically about using your body to trick your brain! These things are meant to be done in tandem with everything you read above (think of them as the cherry on top). 🍒
- Wardrobe – Dress with dignity, don’t show up like a slob and expect to feel like a queen. (If you need some wardrobe inspiration, these are all the places I LOVE to shop online!)
- Maintenance – Hair, nails, etc. It’s about feeling fresh and polished. A freshly shaved bod, a sexy body oil, a nice mani, w/a fresh shampoo / blowout will literally make you feel like a million fucking bucks. YOU KNOW THIS. Do it more often!
- Supplements – Sexy Smoothie (collagen, biotin, maca, adaptogens, turmeric, cacao etc) – when you act like you love your body, you will start to love your body.
- Face yoga – Yes, it’s a thang. Gua Sha / Jade Rolling
- Sweating – for blood circulation / post glow vibes
You CAN love yourself just as you are, while also striving to become the best version of yourself. You don’t have to choose between acceptance and personal growth. They can co-exist in harmony!
The only twist to co-existing is that you cannot have the “Part 2 – Physical” without the INNER! the inner work is 10000% the most important. You can fight that all you want, but you’ll never beat your mindset.
Establish a beautiful mindset and you’ll experience beauty all around you – in the way you perceive your physical appearance, and in all of life’s stunning simple pleasures you begin to notice.
Below are some great positive body / confidence / unapologetic role models (you can find them on IG, YouTube, and/or Apple podcasts):
- Jenna Kutcher
- Gala Darling
- Jenny Gaither
- Brene Brown
- Cassandra Bankson
- Zach Miko (yes, the mens too!)
Check out these books:
- Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet that Critical Voice!) by Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott
- Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
- Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are by Hillary L. McBride
- Positive Body Image for Kids: A Strengths-Based Curriculum for Children Aged 7-11 by Ruth Macconville
- The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Love Your Body by Louise Hay
Check out these songs:
- “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara
- “Confident” by Demi Lovato (this is one of Lily’s favorite songs as it comes from the LEAP ballet movie)
- “Try” by Colbie Callait
- “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
- “Beautiful” by Eminem
- “Who Says” by Selena Gomez
Watch these videos:
Visit these websites:
Additional articles you may find helpful:
- “Body positivity is everywhere, but is it for everyone?” This USA Today article describes the movement up to 2017 and showcases some of the most influential body positive figures today.
- “‘But I Like My Body”: Positive body image characteristics and a holistic model for young-adult women.”
- This article from researchers Wood-Barcalow, Tylka, and Augustus-Horvath (2010) describes a model of body positivity that can help us stay be positive and healthy about our body image.
- “A Healthy Body Image.” This piece from PBS explains how you can encourage a more positive body image in yourself and provides good information for encouraging body positivity in your loved ones.
LOVE YOU. If you 💜’d this, please share it with the people you care about.
Talk soon, Ashley.