Image: @tindThis one still gets me. After being in recovery from bulimia for 10 years now, just as I have days when I look in the mirror and hate my body, I also have times when I look at a photo and want to cry.
The awful feeling can stay with me for the whole day, maybe even longer. This critical voice in my head telling me how fat I look, how useless I am. Rather than wanting to rejoice, laugh and celebrate the occasion where the photo was taken, all I can see is my imperfect self, bumpy lines and chubby cheeks.
However, it happens less and less. I am practicing the art of observing, and as I talked about in my last article, I have learned how to become friends with my demons.
That being said, we live in a world of social media gone mad. It seems like every part of our existence is online and photos of ourself are hard to avoid. Therefore I wanted to share ways I use to reduce judgement when ‘bad’ photos crop up. Now, rather than curling up and crying, I am able to be kinder to myself, less judgmental and give myself chance to see past the photo.
Therefore as I am writing this, it is also a reminder to myself to listen and take the advice on board. As always it is a daily, life long practice to love myself and others more.
1. Check in with yourself
In recent years, I have learned to take some time to ask myself how I am doing that day. What is present? Am I feeling tired? Stressed? Anxious? Happy? Excited? Or somewhere in the middle?
Bringing awareness into how you are feeling allows you to understand how you are responding in certain situations. For example, am I more likely to think I look fat in a photo if I am feeling tired or stressed? I may have a different response when I am feeling happy and calm.
So next time you look at a “fat” photo, also ask yourself what is going on internally. This awareness helps give more perspective. If you are feeling stressed or unhappy, come back to the photo later and see if you notice a shift in your response.
2. Pause and STOP taking photos
If you keep taking photo after photo, trying to find the perfect one, it’s time to pause and realize the the perfect photo doesn’t exist.
Yes it is nice to have photos to remember the occasion and look back on…
However, if we spend all our time trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot then we forget to actually enjoy what we are doing.
So pause, breath and put the camera away.
3. Connect with your heart
Darling, you are beautiful inside and out. Close your eyes, take a moment, breath and connect with yourself. You have so much to offer this world, so much to give. Your weight and appearance do not define you. See yourself as more than an image in a photo.
Photos, although a nice snapshot of the moment, do not show the full picture. They don’t show the full person in all their glory. They only show one angle.Remember that you are more than a pretty picture.
Take a moment to write down 3 things you love about yourself that are nothing to do with your weight or appearance.
4. Let it GO
Easier said than done. I know that, trust me. That being said if there is a photo you don’t like, delete it and let it go.
As I continue in my recovery journey, I often reflect on how much time I wasted on worrying about things like this. When you slowly starting challenging yourself about the way you think, small changes begin to happen. When you begin letting go, you can create space for great things to come your way.
Something that can help change these thought patterns is to do something kind for someone else. Make them a cup of tea, tidy the house, write them a nice note, anything really. This act of kindness can switch your mindset into a more positive state. Just try it and see.
5. Be kind
As I mature I also realize that there is an infinite amount of kindness. The amount of kindness we can offer ourselves is never ending, we can never be too kind.
Therefore when you notice a critical response to looking at a photo, see if instead of beating yourself up you can gently offer yourself some kindness. Take a bath, go for a walk, do some gentle yoga, whatever it is that is a kind action for yourself.
And remember, the photo is just a reflection of how our mind is viewing ourselves, not the actual reality.
So keep taking small steps towards loving yourself more and more and start to see the magic happen.