How many health tips do you find that tell you low self confidence is eroding your health? Even if you're participating in a plethora of health and wellness activities, chronic stress retards our digestion, increases inflammation and changes our gene expression. When you have poor self esteem, you experience more shame and other negative emotions and that kind of chronic distress retards achieving health and longevity. With body esteem being such a huge part of our self esteem it makes sense that a lot of our energy is spent 'trying to fit into what our culture tells us will build our unconditional self acceptance. One of the many ways we try is to diet.
Does low self confidence change to high self esteem with dieting? Does getting thinner or more toned really dissolve our low self-confidence in any permanent way?
Geneen Roth says: "“Weight loss does not make people happy. Or peaceful. Being thin does not address the emptiness that has no shape or weight or name. Even a wildly successful diet is a colossal failure because inside the new body is the same sinking heart.”
Don't be fooled - dropping a few clothes sizes (or gaining more muscle and becoming more toned) isn't what beats low self confidence and raises our self esteem. It's the story we tell ourselves about shedding the pounds or gaining muscle that changes how we feel about ourselves.
It's the same thing with all beauty products. It's not the application of cosmetics that changes anything - it's what we then tell ourselves about the image we see that makes the difference.
It's the same if you feel good in clothes. It's not the clothes that make you feel better - it's the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in those clothes.
Our low self confidence or high self-esteem really has nothing to do with how we appear on the outside, it has everything to do with the internal stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our worth. And that is why losing weight by itself isn't what changes low self esteem, because without the story it would be totally meaningless. And never forget that all the stories we are allowed to tell are dictated by our culture. For example - does your culture allow you to say, "My body is beautiful" when you're considered overweight, or when your body is a shape different than those of models? I can tell you it doesn't in the Western world. I know this because of the angry, vile and shaming comments posted by 'fat haters' on my youtube video interviews when fat activists have decided to be different and simply be themselves. You'd be amazed at how many of these courageous people who have decided to hell with having low self-confidence, receive death threats for merely 'having a voice' and honoring themselves regardless of cultural dictates.
Merely changing our body doesn't lead to the unconditional self-acceptance advertisers seduce us into believing it will... UNLESS we feel empowered by our own efforts that we're able to feel a sense of self-honor. When you replace a sense of body shame with a sense of honor, you heal old wounds, unconditional self acceptance grows and your health will improve regardless of your size or shape. Honoring yourself IS a healthy lifestyle habit.
This is one of the reasons why I interview fat activists who have courageously struggled with low self confidence and poor body image, I want to learn what they did to stop shaming themselves, or allowing our culture to. It's why I want to speak to people who have been bullied and teased and have now learned to step into their power and stand up for themselves. How in love you are with yourself has to do with the voice of your inner critic as this story by motivational speaker (who with her towering height even wears high heels), Libra Forde shows us.
One of the best ways to build self esteem, the: how to improve your self confidence health tip I'd like to offer you .....I want you to be different and be yourself - because even when you lose weight - it won't necessarily stop the voice of your internal critic, unless YOU take the credit. If you give the credit to the diet - it will do nothing for you or your health. You have to pat yourself on the back, you have to feel honorable about YOU. You have to give YOU the credit. The diet did not work, YOU did. The best antidote for low self-confidence, ironically turns out not to be a body make-over (beyond the initial glow) but a mental-makeover.
If you want to improve your poor self esteem there are better ways
What are we really buying when we buy those diets? We're not just buying that they'll make us thin. Ultimately, what we're after is something much more valuable than that. We're banking on these pills or diet products to dissolve all our low self esteem issues, dissolve our shame and guilt and finally free us to age and live well.
Look at those cultural beliefs as depicted in the media....those famous 'before and after' weight loss pictures. In the 'before' picture people look grey and unsmiling, their lives look colourless and bland. They look sad and lacking in esteem.
But viola, in those 'after' pictures, after they've shed pounds and dropped a dress size or two, suddenly life becomes so much rosier. Gone is their low self confidence. Now they beam out at the camera - apparently, glowing, full of confidence and high self esteem. THAT's what we're really buying when we buy weight loss products or follow weight loss tips. There's one small problem with that...diets don't work and so all too soon health-eroding guilt and shame molecules of emotion are back.
You can have high self esteem regardless of your body size or shape. So long as you're not waiting around for our Western culture to give you permission to.
But many cultures around the world like the Polynesians and rural African women have high self esteem because they carry extra pounds and look how honored and revered Sumo wrestlers are. For a rural African woman to be well-rounded tells her friends that: she has attracted a wealthy man who feeds her well; she is fertile and doesn't have AIDS and is desirable. I love this paragraph from: What's wrong with Fat?" by Abigail Saguy.
And even in Westernized countries like the USA, various cultural groups live without low self esteem caused by hating their bodies. While they are exposed to the same skinny model ideal via the media their cultural heritage allows them to live more comfortably with extra pounds.
But this just goes to show, it's not the weight itself that changes our self-esteem, it's the judgment we hold about it, the story we believe about it. So if we refused to judge extra weight as bad - it couldn't lead to poor self esteem... or the health-eroding neuropeptides that accompany a harsh body critic. And if you're thinking carrying a large body is always bad thing, from a health point of view, check out this obesity research from around the globe.
You get deep essential truths (we are all born equal and special) that are enduring and empowering and don’t change historically, or from one culture to another.
Then we get surface ego beliefs (the shape of your body is what makes you special). The latter are never stable; they’re the ones that create self-doubt and poor self esteem.
Challenging surface beliefs about low self esteem is absolutely central to escaping the diet mentality. For example, thin or fat you can still feel and dress sexy!
Instead of lusting after the glamorous lifestyles of pop divas and movie stars, I’ve started watching out for stories about their lives. What I’ve discovered is that, despite having bodies most of us would kill for and being unbelievably wealthy, many live crazy, unhappy lives dripping with poor self esteem.
Stop believing that when you're outwardly gorgeous, the world will be your oyster. Just take that pressure off yourself to become something you never can and that will do wonders to dissolve your low self confidence. Look at the whole beauty ideal from a new perspective. Realising this will go much further when it comes to building an enduring healthy self-esteem than losing weight.
You already are all that you ever need to be, and you don’t need to become ‘anything’ or ‘anybody’ different in order to have high self esteem. Honestly, you don't! There are other ways of looking at beauty. And besides people don't always see you the way you see yourself. Your inner critic is way harsher than the eyes of your friends.
We flip through those glossy glamour magazines, subconsciously comparing ourselves to the images we see there. Then stroll around the mall or go to the beach and take a long hard look. Are those 'perfect cellulite-free' bodies really the bodies that inhabit everyday planet earth?
Looking back at the bodies from other eras very clearly illustrates why todays' standards of beauty aren’t deep essential truths. Look back at pictures of bodies during other periods in history - they look nothing like the clothes-hanger-thin models featured in today's magazines.
How we compare ourself and who we compare ourselves to will either increase your self esteem or lower your self confidence. And if you don't believe me experiment a bit. For ways to stop hating yourself... click here.
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