Sometimes practicing self-love can feel incredibly forced and fake. We know we should be kind to ourselves, we know we should speak to ourselves like a loving friend, blah blah blah. But on those days, or weeks, or months, when you're just not feeling it, it's almost impossible to practice that lovey-dovey self-love talk when it feels so far from what you're REALLY thinking.
What's helping me a lot as of late is implementing something I learned in one of Neghar Fonooni's courses last year: start with neutral. If you're feeling like crap and picking your body or life apart piece by piece, while saying "I LOVE myself and I look AMAZING!" may help, it may also send you into a deeper negative funnel, fuelled by the the insincerity you're showing yourself, and the fact you now just lied to yourself, on top of already picking yourself apart. Oh viscous cycle.
Instead - find NEUTRAL, and deliver your statement purely as FACT, not opinion. For example, "I'm bigger than I was before having my baby," or, "I'm carrying more fat/less muscle than I was before" are both NEUTRAL FACTUAL statements. Comments riddled with opinion, or those that are negative, or overly positive may not be of much help to you, if any at all.
This weekend I put this into play when we went to an indoor pool for the first time with our daughter. Initially I said I'd come but just watch, using a sore shoulder as my excuse for sitting on the sidelines. But I knew that deep down inside I was partially trying to avoid my bathing suits for the first time in almost 2 years. As I walked to my dresser I said out loud to my husband, "I'm going to wear a two piece today and I'm not going to cry."
I stepped in front of the mirror to ensure the bathing suit I had put on covered me in a public pool appropriate way (turns out my 95% of my pre-baby bathing suits are not mom-at-public-pool-appropriate) , and before the rattling of negative thoughts could spiral out of control I simply observed, "my body is different now, it has more fat than it used to." That's it. Move on. Factual, and neutral.
I can honestly say I have absolute love and respect for my body in what it can and has done for me - it's freaking amazing, and it will continue to be amazing, I hope, for many more years to come. But in this phase where things feel like they've changed SO much SO fast, I don't need to falsely say I 100% love how I look right now. And that's 100% okay.
Try neutral, and try factual. Maybe one day the more positive, kinder words will flow easily. Maybe not. But in the meantime, this neutral space is a much better place to be than being subject to the mean girl voice and all she has to say.
I refuse to miss out on seeing my little girl giggle and laugh and splash and shriek with excitement in the pool, and see the look of joy mixed with fatherly love on my husband's face as he tosses around the little girl we at one point didn't know if we would ever have, all because I'm too ashamed to put on a bathing suit.
And guess what, no one in the entire pool gave a single f#@k about how I looked.
Now you might be wondering, "if you're trying to be exude body confidence, why did you just post your bathing suit and not you in it?". The answer is simple. For one, #internetcreeps. Second, how my body looks should have no impact on your own thoughts of your body. We all have our own story, our own body, our own insecurities, our own strengths. If you can relate to this story, amazing, but I want you to relate to it through your body, not mine. Make sense?
Lastly - why did I post the picture showing the back of my daughter's bathing suit instead of the front? Because that's how she came out of the change room after being dressed by dad. Him, "I think it's on backwards." #dressedbydad