Thursday, January 15, 2015

On Insecurities & Body Image -- How to Find the Root of an Issue

I told my mom about my tattoo so now I can post day two of the #modsummer photo challenge - a pic of my kicks (and mostly my new tattoo!)  @modcloth

The beginning of 2015 found me sitting at a notepad, pen in hand, to make a list of goals for the new year. But when I finished, it was pretty obvious that something was missing.
  • Blog more.  
  • Lose weight.  
  • Get down to a size X.  
  • Go to yoga more often. 
  • Go to the gym more often. 
  • Eat X vegetables a day. 
  • Graduate. 
  • Get a "real" job.
The list was too broad and didn't actually represent what I wanted from 2015. When I narrowed down my goals to focus on what I truly wanted to achieve, I realized so many of these were not my own goals, but goals that I felt like I should want to accomplish. Now, my list looks a little more like this:
  • Write my Cosplay 101 e-book. 
  • Obtain a career in my field at a company I like. 
  • Expand my blog content. 
  • Bring back Superheroesque
  • Start a podcast with Liz.
That's more like it.

Conspicuously absent are any weight-related goals. Efforts to be healthier -- including exercising, eating well, and being more active in general -- are amazing goals, but for me, adding them to my to do list is more societally driven than personally driven.

I'm happy with my body. Sometimes it's a struggle, like it is for anyone, but for the most part, I'm fine with the way I look. In fact, I've started to realize that insecurities about my body only pop up when I'm already insecure about something else. If I'm self-conscious about my cosplay skills, I'll blame it on being a chubby cosplayer. If I'm nervous I won't do well in an interview, I immediately think of my weight and how that comes across to others. If someone doesn't like me, I'm worried they'll mention my weight when complaining about me. It sounds silly (and I felt silly when I realized it), but truly, I don't really care about my body, size, or looks until I'm worried about something else. In other words, my insecurities about my body are almost always a symptom of another issue. It's just so much easier to decide your feelings are about your appearance than to actually sort through them and figure them out.

Do I want to go to the gym more often? Sure. But it's not my goal right now, and that's cool. I realized this year that I'd rather wait until I actually have time to focus on my fitness goals than continually guilt myself into half-heartedly completing them.

3 Ways to Find the Root of a Body Image Issue

If you, like me, are beginning to suspect your body image concerns are caused by other factors, here's a few ways to zero in on them:
  1. Journal it out. If I can't pinpoint why I'm feeling bad, I always turn to journaling. Grab a pen and notebook, open a Word document, or however else you'd like to write, and just write down everything that comes to mind. Usually, I quickly find that my thoughts take a shift and I realize what's actually bothering me.
  2. Ask yourself, "So what?" This is a trick I learned from therapy. Have a conversation with yourself asking what's wrong, then reply to everything you say with "So what?" or "Why does that matter?" This will help you narrow down the issue or realize that it isn't actually a big deal.
    For example: "I'm worried I'll bomb my interview tomorrow." "So what?" "If I don't get this job, I'll have to start all over." "So what?" "I am worried about my finances." "So what?" "I don't want people to think I'm useless or can't find a job with my degree." 
  3. Mind map. A technique I've utilized recently is mind mapping, which I re-discovered through Passion Planner (example here). Using mind maps to narrow your goals will help you find out what you truly want to focus on. It's how I realized my initial goal list was definitely not what I wanted to do!

Further Reading

On How to Deal with Bad Body Image Days from Hey Liz
100 Things To Love About Yourself (That Have Nothing To Do With What You Look Like) from Harper Honey
This Year, #LoveTheMirror from The Militant Baker
Lumpy Gets Personal from Her Lumpiness (Trigger warning: Eating disorder talk)

Do your insecurities manifest as body image issues?

Shout out to Miss Lumpy for proofreading and offering very valuable suggestions for this post!

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