Looking at pictures of yourself can trigger a lot. It triggers upset and frustration. A picture becomes a permanent reminder of you and your body. As an eating disorder therapist, body image, and self-esteem coach I work with a lot of people that experience a great deal of anxiety and upset when approached to have a picture taken. I so GET IT! Just the other day I was confronted with a picture from an even a few years ago, and rather than focus on my body I was able to focus on what it was like to be IN my body.
Let me explain…
A couple years ago my sister and I were asked to dance in a local charity event called, Dancing With The Stars. It is super fun. My sister and I decided we had to dance to some Beyoncé. Naturally we choose Single Ladies (Now Put Your Hands Up) – ironically neither one of us is single…I digress. Back to my story.
We not only danced to Beyoncé to the legit Single Ladies dance we also decided we had to wear the black leotard. So here I am agreeing to shake my ass in front of room of local movers, shakers, and influencers in a BLACK LEOTARD. I am not delusional and I know I am no Beyoncé.
I was super insecure. Like extra! I do not want anyone to judge my body or even see my body. I do not fit the ideal body type and I was concerned how being in my body, wearing a black leotard was going to influence my day. I was too busy focusing ON my body and this pulled all my attention and focus to my body and what it looked like.
I had two choices. I could focus ON my body or I could focus on being IN my body.
When you focus ON your body the following happens:
- You miss out. You become distracted because you are too busy worrying about how your body looks. You are unfocused because all your attention is about sitting or standing just right so your body looks a certain way.
- You feel anxious and overwhelmed. You become super judgy wudgy of your body and as a result you feel critical and negative. This negative energy makes you want to flee and hide in your room.
- You scrutinize mistakes and flaws. Therefore you feel super insecure and self-conscious. You analyze your every move, things you say, and the ways you move your body. You start feeling all weird and awkward.
- You don’t eat or you miss out on enjoying foods you enjoy. You already feel so uncomfortable in your body so to eat, or have others see you eat, makes you feel like people are going to judge your body and your weight.
- You believe you are not good enough, and this thought holds you back and keeps you from being present to enjoy the moment.
The night of Dancing With The Stars I said, “f*uck it!” And I decided to enjoy the event and being IN my body.
And you know what? I had a BLAST!
We nailed our dance. We got applause and cheers. The judges gave us a great critique and we raised some money dollars for the charity. And I had a GREAT time with my family and friends. I had fun because I was focused on being IN my body. I was able to focus on how my body allowed me move, dance, talk with people, meet new people, and experience a unique and interesting moment.
When you focus on being IN your body the following happens:
- You experience life. You are present and focused and able to engage with your family and friends. You get to enjoy making memories.
- You are happy. You are seeing you active in the moment and able to see how you can have fun and enjoy something. You have the energy to use all your senses to be fully alert and aware.
- You laugh at yourself and you get a moment to stop taking yourself so seriously. You realize you may do something weird or silly, but then you see how your friends and family don’t mind. They are still there with you enjoying you in the moment.
- You enjoy food! Did you know that taste and pleasure go hand in hand? You cannot fully taste food and not have an emotional sensation. This is because the way the brain processes food involves also processing emotions. Think about? Think about a meal you have had. What other emotions and thoughts come to mind? See how the environment and the people you were with influence how you feel about the meal.
- You see you are enough because you see how your friends and family enjoy you, you can have fun and be present and be OK!
The next time you feel overwhelmed about taking a photo or looking at yourself in a photo I want you practice thinking about being IN your body. Look at the picture and recall the memory, recall the relationships you had when you were in this photo. Ask yourself, “what made this special?” Practice being IN your body today and journal what you experienced. Then, reply back to me and let me know what this was like for you. How did being IN your body feel different? How did it feel special? What did you gain from being IN your body? I can’t wait to hear back from you.