Tuesday, February 8, 2011

11 Ways 2 Love Your Self Better in 2011

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS
Instead of talking about my own 11 things that my life doesn’t need in 2011, I wanted to talk about the things that I wish every reader could get rid of, or more accurately, work to get rid of:

  1. Frowning when you look in the mirror. Just smile, and be happy to be you, in all your beautiful glory.
  2. Exercising to work off the “extra” calories or weight. Exercise because you love the movement. Because you feel free. Because your anxiety is alleviated. Because your mood is boosted. Exercise because your body is a kick-ass machine that keeps your heart pumping.
  3. Relying on others for validation about your body, beauty or brain. Yes, it’s exciting to get a compliment from others on a job well done, on a pretty outfit or on your sexy blue eyes. But we don’t need to rely on others. We can cultivate a secure and confident sense of self all on our own. The compliments? They’re just a bonus.
  4. Weighing yourself. The scale is akin to shackles. Remember Scrooge’s friend Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol? He carried a set of huge, long chains around after his death for being such a miser. Every time you want to give the scale too much weight, like affecting your mood or self-worth, just picture poor old Marley. If nothing else, it might make you laugh – and step away from the scale.
  5. Letting clothing sizes determine your value. I love clothes. I have tons of fun dressing up for any occasion. But, years ago, I used to get so upset if a certain size didn’t fit me. I felt like I had to fit into a garment, not the other way around. Inevitably, this would make or break my mood and my worth. But don’t let arbitrary sizes become your shackles either. Have fun with style and clothes, whatever your shape, size or weight. Celebrate the beauty of your body with clothes that make you feel good.
  6. Keeping the bad or good stuff in. Write your heart out. Like I wrote yesterday, consider taking up journaling purely for yourself, to process life, to be grateful, to reflect on your body image, to doodle, to get creative, whatever.
  7. Keeping quiet. Part of having a positive body image and self-image is knowing your boundaries and letting people know when they’ve crossed them. This is a concept I desperately wish I would’ve learned years ago. Everyone has a voice, and you deserve to be heard. You deserve to speak up when something doesn’t feel right.
  8. Being stuck in a struggle. If you’re struggling with disordered eating, an eating disorder, negative body image or anything else, strive to work through these issues in 2011. Commit to healing yourself, whatever you may be going through. This may include therapy, support groups, self-help books, reaching out to loved ones or something else. Remember that you’re not alone, and hope is always there, even in the worst of times.
  9. Practicing the diet mentality. I still grapple with this. Surprised? Yea, me too! But there are times when I lie in bed and go over the day’s food intake or when I worry that I’m gaining weight after days of eating richer foods. There are times I wonder about a food’s calories. These days are fairly few, especially in comparison to my college years. If you’re in a similar place, I hope that you acknowledge that. Because once we can name our struggles, we can work to overcome them, step by step.
  10. Being a perfectionist. Perfectionism is all-or-nothing thinking. Either we diet, or we binge. Either we love our bodies conditionally, or we loathe them. Either we have the perfect arms or tummy, or we’re hideous. Whenever we apply perfectionistic thinking to anything – whether that’s building a better body image or nitpicking at our bodies – the result is unhealthy all around. Instead, strive for flexibility and patience and compassion with yourself.
  11. Letting the negative rule. Life is hard. That’s definitely a fact, but we can’t let that fact consume us. I hope in 2011 that you take more opportunities to just be. To enjoy your own company. To bask in the beauty of your loved ones. And to find the little things amazing.
Margarita Tartakovsky is a freelance writer who specializes in mental health. For more on her work, visit http://www.self-ish.net/. This article is a re-post from her blog Weightless.

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