Have you ever turned down an invitation to go to the beach or pool because you were embarrassed of how you would look in a swimsuit? Have you ever dreaded shopping for new clothes because you hated the size you were going to have to buy? Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and been frustrated because a specific body part was far from perfect?
I know I have. And while I’m much, much better about this than I used to be, I still find myself judging specific body parts and feeling anxious about the Caribbean vacation we just booked for our 20th anniversary. I know exactly when my thoughts shifted from “Woo Hoo,” to “I’m going to have to wear a bathing suit in public!”
While part of me is thinking I need to whip myself into even better shape to help reduce those trouble spots, even more powerful is my understanding that those negative emotions are just a signal letting me know where my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are out of alignment with my Higher Self.
In our action-oriented society, we often want to jump right to diet and exercise. The problem is, unless we shift the underlying thoughts, emotions, and beliefs at the same time, we will probably struggle to meet our goals—and most likely won’t be able to maintain them.
Not only will shifting our negative thoughts enough to attain a feeling of relief turbo-charge our actions, it enables us to feel better right now. And the better we feel about ourselves, the better we look—and the more fun we allow ourselves to have.
Really, I love my awareness of these negative emotions because it’s letting me know that with a little work, my life can feel better and I can attain an even higher level of happiness. And the better I feel, the more energy I will have to kick my workouts up a notch and keep to my goal of eating clean.
Truly, the better life gets, the better it can get. We never get rid of every negative reaction, thought, and emotion to be able to slap our hands together and proclaim that we are “perfect.” Being aware of old energy and shifting our focus to achieve a better feeling is what gives life its texture and interest. It’s what makes life fun. The joy in life is not having it be easy or perfect. The joy in life is continually reaching for a better and better feeling place. That’s the journey that everyone is talking about when they say, “enjoy the journey.”
So how can I shift my thoughts to improve my feelings so that I will have the best vacation ever?
One way to do this is to practice “new” thoughts using affirmations. When I catch myself having negative thoughts, I can then shift my focus and consciously think those new thoughts.
First I need to reach for a feeling of relief so that I can create an affirmation that reflects a positive shift in energy. Here’s the thought process I went through.
I know that when I am at the beach or pool that I am so self-conscious that I’m not really thinking much about other people. So it’s likely that other people won’t be thinking very much about me, either. Even if they do have a negative thought, it might last them 20 seconds. My reaction of feeling bad about myself consistently is way out of proportion to the length of time that someone “might” think critically of me.
And while there will be people there who look way better than I do, there will also be people who don’t look as good. I’m not really going to stand out from the crowd that much. Again my reaction is way out of proportion to the reality.
I do know how to dress to accentuate the positive and minimize the negatives. There are lots of different bathing suit options these days, and since we’re not going for a few months, I have plenty of time to find a style that I know flatters me.
I’m not likely to see any of those people again anyway. The only person who matters is my husband, David, and he already loves me and thinks I’m attractive. What really matters is being fully present and living each day to the fullest.
This will be our one and only 20th anniversary. I want to notice the details and focus on what makes it special. I want to see this experience as the gift that it is. What I envision is being able to laugh easily and delight in the sights and sounds, to revel in being with my favorite person in the world without any deadlines or responsibilities, and to allow myself to be open to new things and experiences.
There will be so much to appreciate during that time. The clouds in the sky may never again be the same pattern. We will meet wonderful people who will add to our lives if we let them. We will be surrounded by exquisite tropical beauty. There will be abundant sea life, and there will be so much to do and see.
I do appreciate that my body is fit, strong, and healthy. It will enable me to take part in any experience I choose. And there are parts of my body that I do love, particularly my shapely calves. My body and my life are gifts for which gratitude is the absolute best response.
Ah! There is the start of the affirmation I can use when I catch myself in that old thought pattern.
“My body and my life are gifts for which I am grateful. I appreciate that my body is fit, strong, and healthy, and that I am present and enjoying this moment. My Higher Self loves and appreciates me exactly as I am. I am open to fun and new experiences.”
Pay attention to those habitual patterns of negative thoughts that you have about your body and your life. How can you consciously shift your thoughts so that you feel a sense of relief? What can you do to practice those new thoughts? What difference do you think that might have in your life?
Together we can do it!
Right on, Sugar…and it’s the same for me so thanks for giving me a thought process to clean up my own negative self talk around the bathing suit blues!
Great post, but that is going to take some time for me. One day, when I am ancient, I may not care about my body image to others..lol
Thanks for your comment! I appreciate it.
I celebrated 25 years with a big dinner party and felt mortified that I was at my heaviest, what would everyone say about me, what could I possibly wear to look good..I didn’t even want to have the party. Looking back, I am glad I had friends and family to celebrate with me. I am blessed to have these same friends all these years and fabulous children who love me and a husband who loves me even with 70 extra pounds on my tush. In the pictures I’m a big girl A blessed big girl surrounded by unconditional love from many of my favorite people in the world. Your right, live in the moment joyously. Don’t wait for the perfect size to define you. ~ Bonnie
Awesome, Bonnie. Way to go on finding the joy of the moment and knowing that you are loved unconditionally. Just because we have changes we want to make doesn’t mean we can’t be fully present, absolutely adored, and enjoy every ounce of the moment.
thank you for sharing this very helpful information … awesome
Thanks for commenting!
I think these affirmations are a great way to accept you body unconditionally. I think fellow beach visitors are either too focused on their insecurities or having too much fun to care what other are wearing. However, I do realize that donning a bathing suit can be a bit daunting. I’m grateful that Europeans don’t give others a second glance and the majority of women wear two pieces. Fat, skinny, old, and young, they’re all wearing bikinis. I felt like an outcast in my modest black one piece! 🙂
Thanks for commenting! I appreciate it!
Anyone that chooses a profession that is meant to help other people should be applauded. I love your message of optimism and empowerment. Keep on coaching!
Thank you! You comments mean a lot!
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WordPress.com. This is one of their templates. I just replaced the photo.
You’ve really helped put this in perspective for me. It’s hard to keep these thoughts from creeping in, but this helps.
That’s the mental workout I’m talking about in today’s blog. When you are aware of those negative thoughts, practice shifting them. Actually plan to do it, as you would plan your workout. Prepare for them. What are the regular thoughts you are having? What are the new thoughts you will shift to? You know you are making a difference if you feel a sense of relief. That’s all it takes. Just a tiny little shift. Do that consistently. Practice it. And soon you will feel the difference. Sending you positive thoughts!
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