Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the fresh & fit fest at Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch, where I attended a talk on body confidence by Tally Rae, Victoria Spence and Zanna van Dijk, the wonderful ladies behind #GirlsGains and the BBC Radio 5 Podcast Fit and Fearless. Their experiences and advice hit home which is why I would like to share with you what I took away from this session in this post.
- Realise that you’re more than your body.
Sometimes we take a look at the mirror and all we see is limbs, hair, skin, curves, flaws, lines. We are our bodies but we’re so much more at the same time. Each one of us is a whole person with a distinct personality. Think of your friends: what is it that attracted you to them? What do you like about them? What do you admire about them? It’s very unlikely that you hang out with them because their eyebrows are on fleek, or because they have a flat stomach, an amazing bum or the skin of a newborn. You love them because they’re intelligent, funny, supportive, talented, ambitious, adventurous, fearless, honest, diligent, empathetic, passionate. Because they are amazing friends/siblings/children/parents/partners, because they follow their dreams, work hard, travel far, read loads, have interesting conversations and insightful advice to offer, have your back, expand your world and your thoughts, challenge you and nurture you. And this brings me to the second point, which is…
- Treat yourself the same way you would treat a friend.
Would you ever judge a friend for indulging on chocolate cake or red wine? For not hitting the gym on a daily basis? For a 5-hour Netflix binge watch? For listening to Britney on their way to work or rereading Eat, Pray, Love for the hundredth time? [Random examples that may or may not coincide with my actual life.] No, right? Then why are you so hard on yourself for doing so? Something I’ve noticed about myself is that I can be harsh and demanding from myself but tend to cut other slack. What we need is to practise more self-compassion, to show ourselves the understanding and patience with which we would treat the people around us.
- Learn to accept compliments.
I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve complimented a friend or a stranger on something that they wear or their hair, and their response was something along the lines of “Oh, it’s nothing”, “No, it looks terrible” or “I got it from Mango for 10 quid”. Think about it, when someone compliments you and you respond with a negative, it sounds like you’re questioning or, worse even, rejecting their judgement; it’s a loud and clear “you are wrong”. It’s like someone is trying to lift you up and you decide that you prefer to stay fixated on the ground. It’s like saying “No, I’m not worth it”, “No, I’m not [insert adjective of your choice]”. Why? On what basis do we decide whether we deserve a compliment? What if the less self-compassionate side of ourselves gets the best of us? When we decline a compliment, not only we confirm to ourselves the somewhat unfavourable opinion we might hold on ourselves but we pass it over to others as well. Try this at home: the next time someone compliments you, say “thank you”. Nothing more, nothing less. Unless you’re feeling cheeky like me and can add a nonchalant “Yes, I know.”
- Practise gratitude.
Here’s a very easy resolution: before you go to bed every night, write down 3 things that happened earlier that day which make you grateful. It becomes even easier to keep this resolution, if you find a friend, a partner or a family member whom you can text before switching off the lights. It could be something important and one-off, like “I just got promoted.”, something that is – theoretically – constant in your life, such as “Being young and in London”, or something almost inconsequential, like the smiley that the barrista at Starbucks drew next to your name when you picked up your morning coffee. It has been scientifically proven that people tend to exaggerate the negatives and downplay or easily forget the positives in life so falling into this habit will better grasp of the small or big things that brighten your everyday routine and, as a result, your life.
- Surround yourself with people who support you.
I cannot stress this point enough! Have you ever notice these people around like act like vampires, literally sucking all the positive vibes around them? It’s usually the ones who fail to get excited about your successes and seem to be enjoying your failures or problems in a not-at-all subtle way, drag you into self-destructive habits, complain about everything, exercise their back-handed criticism and insecurities on you. Enough! It is important to surround ourselves with people who lift us up; people who inspire us by leading by example; people who motivate us to go after our dreams; people who help us see our strengths and vulnerabilities. Picture your life like throwing a party in a small apartment: there is no room for naysayers, opportunists, narcissists and pessimists. Even if they promised to bring cake.
Grateful (as always),
Photo via Girl Gains