I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you don’t have to be going through life at a rock-bottom level, massively struggling with your body image, confidence non-existent; to be in need of a little TLC in the area of self-appreciation.
There are no extremes when it comes to self-worth. Picture one end of the spectrum full of confident, successful, thriving people and the other packed with those of us still trying to figure life and ourselves out and dropping the ball at every turn. That sounds pretty unrealistic, doesn’t it? The truth is, there exists a HUGE gray area in between those two extremes, a gray area that most everyone on earth (yes, really. I know from working in Hollywood – celebrities, gurus, politicians, athletes – everyone) falls into.
I have some pretty amazing people in my life, including my mentors and a lot of coaches in my network, all of whom I look up to and find myself constantly in awe at their ability to seemingly have it all together, all the time. But the reality is that when I take a moment to look closer, to dive in deeper with them, to ask the sensitive questions, even they can always use a boost in the self-love department.
So wherever it is you stand right now – rock bottom, right in the middle, or thriving – here are 5 signs you need to appreciate yourself more plus some ideas for how to do just that.
1. Your thoughts about yourself are more negative than positive.
Okay, we all have those moments. Self-doubt, self-criticism, discouragement, insecurities. But there’s a difference between having those moments and living those moments. I challenge you to spend even just a 24-hour period being conscious of your self-talk. Pay attention to how you speak to yourself when you make a mistake, try on a new pair of jeans, or see that cute guy in line at the bagel shop on 5th Avenue. By being conscious of those thoughts, you’ll instantly get a pretty good idea of your positive-to-negative thought ratio. Finding more negative than positive?
It sounds cliché, but awareness is the first step to combatting those negative thoughts. You know that old saying, you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken? Being conscious of them allows you the control to begin changing them. Each time you find yourself in the midst of negative self-talk, try this: pause and take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, followed by a positive thought about yourself that combats the negative. In beginning to do this on a consistent basis, you’ll actually begin re-programming the neural pathways in your brain and begin a domino effect of a different way of thinking about yourself. If you need some examples and ideas to get you started, you can follow my social media accounts for my #AGaffirmations posted all day long – positive thoughts about you and how capable, strong, and beautiful you are.
2. You can’t remember the last time you felt confident in your body.
It’s so incredibly easy for us to get sucked into a familiar, everyday mindset of always covering our arms because of how, ahem, not toned they are. Of sucking in our stomachs. Of politely declining summer event invites because swimsuits terrify us. Of squeezing into our Spanx getting ready to go to the office every morning. Of hiding our faces under bangs, hats, sunglasses, 12lbs of concealer; because we’re self conscious of a breakout, wrinkles, under-eye circles, or any of the other fabulous skin issues that plague us.
Listen up: those non-toned arms support you in your everyday life. They drive, they hug, they dress you, they help others, they feed little mouths, they fix what’s broken. They organize, clean, love, support, and get you through the day as the incredible person that you are. That stomach maybe carried a new life for 9 months. Or maybe it carries 60-hour work weeks which prevents it from hitting the gym but accomplishes a hell of a lot for your company. Or maybe it carries crepes, champagne, and buttery goodness from your Paris vacay last month that you thoroughly enjoyed every bite of – so where’s the shame in that?
You see where I’m going with this. Catch yourself cursing out that bikini as you prep for a beach day with the kids? Do yourself a favor and take a moment to consciously (or physically! Pen & paper and carry the list with you in your purse!) list all the things your body has accomplished that got it where it is today. It’s pretty tough to criticize such an amazing, hard-working piece of equipment, isn’t it?
3. When you make a mistake, you use the opportunity to beat yourself up.
Whether it’s ‘Shoot, (your name)! How could you have forgotten the cookies for the bake sale?!’ or several months of an in-depth hate-fest for a bad decision you recently made, using your own mistakes against yourself is like playing for the wrong team on a regular basis. YOU are your team. If you’re constantly beating yourself up for every missed shot, how are you ever going to build the confidence you need to learn, move forward, and have a better experience next time?
Next time you’re ruminating on a mistake, try this exercise out: get out a journal or sheet of notebook paper and a pen, set a timer on your phone for 2 minutes, and write. Any thoughts that come to mind for 120 seconds. When your timer goes off, at the bottom of your page write, Good thing I now know better for next time! Now tear up the sheet and toss it. This exercise allows you to get all those feelings out of your brain and into black and white, and then leave them in the past with a positive association to them – what you learned and how it prepped you for next time around.
4. You don’t take care of your personal surroundings.
Sure, you can still get ready for work in a bathroom crowded with rubber ducks, shower crayons, and mounds of dirty soccer uniforms and ballet leotards on the floor – but why would you want to? There’s certain areas of life that are just going to be messy – that’s how it goes in the busy, productive, beautiful worlds we create for ourselves and our families. But here’s the thing: while it may be impossible to get all the dishes done and the kitchen cleaned before you walk out the door or to get the entire house picked up every weekend in an attempt to start the week smoothly, there are certain areas that deserve a little more of your time and in return provide you with a sense of peace and calm for your own state of mind. Your bedroom and bathroom should be spaces that get a little extra TLC to be kept in order. Why? Because, especially if you have a family, these become your “alone areas” (aside from your spouse). You probably don’t invite company into them when you entertain. You most likely try and spend minimal time having the kids in them, as common areas like playrooms, living room, kitchen, and kids’ rooms make more sense for family time, homework time, etc. Having a little order in the spaces where you start and end your day can do wonders to eliminate chaos. Our brains signal to our bodies control, capability, and calm when our surroundings are in order, which in turn relaxes our response systems and can keep you in a steady place throughout the day.
Try adding in 5 extra minutes to your evening routine specifically to pick up, declutter, and organize the bedroom and bathroom area from it’s use during the day. On weekends, build in a 20-minute block to do a more thorough cleaning, run the vacuum, clean counters, etc. This routine will leave you with a more peaceful command center to get yourself through the week.
5. You don’t move. No, like, at all.
I’m not talking from the kitchen to the laundry room and from the office to dinner with your in-laws. I’m talking movement for you. A quick walk. Some light stretching. Maybe a yoga routine or a kickboxing class on YouTube. 10 minutes or 90, doesn’t matter. Showing yourself appreciation is a mental and physical deal. Your body wants to move! I promise! And the peace of mind you get from the mind-body connection of physical movement is just a bonus. In researching routines, you’ll find even some of the biggest power-players, CEOs, and moguls carve out time to move. Why? Because even in their insanely busy lives, they maintain an appreciation for the physical bodies that built that life and continue to facilitate it working every single day.
How many of these five things do you see a place for in your life? Let me know in the comments below what you loved and what you’re going to implement into your world. I’m here to cheer you on in appreciation of YOU! Have other self-appreciation tips you want to spread to others? Tweet them to me @amandagist or post them for me on Facebook here and I’ll share away!
From struggle to strength,
Amanda Gist wants to live in a world where every dress size is beautiful, mental illness is not a weakness but a badge of courage, and hearts & bodies stand brave against the abusive playground bully that is today’s media.
As a young actress in Hollywood, from co-starring opposite Greg Kinnear in FOX’s Rake to working alongside Blue Lagoon heartthrob Christopher Atkins in award-winning feature film Guardian Angel, she found herself in a constant fight to prove that her worth was not dependent on her weight, appearance, or a skimpy wardrobe. Today, as a mentor, writer, speaker, and advocate for self-worth, her work has been described as “beautifully honest and brave,” while her impact has been declared “only the beginning.”
When she’s not spreading her message or working with clients, you can find her in scrubs at the local hospital, on her favorite yoga mat, scouring the web for the best mac & cheese variations, enjoying some quality Mom & Daughter time with her rescue pup Haylie, or perfecting her deadlifting form at the gym.
Explore more about discovering your value with grace and a little tough love at AmandaGist.com.