How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought, “If only…”
If only I had a flatter stomach…
If only I had less cellulite…
If only I could lose just a few pounds…
How often have you seen images of picture-perfect Instagram models and even against your wiser self, a part of you wished and longed you could look like them? (Even though the rational part of you knows that the pictures you see on social media have all been airbrushed, filtered, and photoshopped into impossible standards to humanly achieve!)
Or at times, it isn’t other people you’re comparing yourself to, but a different, former, or dream version of yourself — one where you are younger, or thinner, or just more in shape — that you desperately wish you could achieve…
As a former professional dancer, I struggled for years to love and accept my body. In the prime of my dance career, I remember starting each morning with a weigh in on my bathroom scale and that one number, even if it was the difference of just one pound, would decide if I was going to have a good day, or a bad day…
Then, when I became a mother, I had to come to terms with a whole new set of changes and the reality that my body would probably never be the same.
For most of us, myself included, self-love doesn’t always come naturally. We tend to fall into old thinking patterns that negatively affect the way we see and appreciate our bodies, that if we let it can rob us of our joy and self-love.
But we CAN break that toxic cycle and start to rebuild a healthy, loving self confidence by taking consistent and conscious actions and choosing self-love each day. My mom, the one and only Mary Morrissey and I have invested a number of years experimenting to find simple, yet incredibly effective, ways to take excellent care of ourselves – including developing greater self-love.
After spending months testing and proving these daily practices, we distilled our favorite activities into a 28-day challenge called Project Lighten Up. In less than 10 minutes a day, you can learn and apply the very same fun and simple practices we use to boost our self-love, re-energize our bodies, and reconnect with our authentic selves.
I’d love to share three of these practices with you today! In Project Lighten Up, we offer practices to lighten energy in seven key areas of life. Today’s tips are all about increasing our self-love and acceptance.
Turning Down the Volume on the 3 C’s
The process of increasing self-love starts by becoming more aware of the little voice most of us have in our heads. This critical voice relishes in pointing out all the things we don’t love about our bodies. The voice expresses itself in 3 common ways – what I call the 3 C’s:
- Complaining about things we don’t love about our bodies … from gaining a bit of weight, to clothes not fitting the way they should, to our bodies looking different than they did years ago.
- Comparison, when we measure ourselves against others. As soon as we judge others to be better than us — or ourselves to be better than “them” — we rob ourselves of joy. A very common pattern that many women were raised with is the notion that “thinner is better.” As soon as we see another woman who is thinner or bigger than us, this old pattern kicks in and forms a judgment about our worth based on how we measure up to the other person.
- Criticism, when we find fault and pick apart all the things that we judge as “wrong” about ourselves. Maybe you focus on your weight and what you think you “should” weigh. Or maybe you beat yourself up for changes you’ve noticed as you’ve gotten older.
Most of us experience one of the 3 C’s on a daily basis!
The worst part is that most of the time we don’t even realize we’re buying into this negative thought pattern because it’s become such an intrinsic part of our daily lives…
It might be something as small as complaining that you’ve gained a pound or two, or comparing yourself to someone else, or criticizing yourself for not being as fit as you think you should be — but no matter what, these negative thoughts tap out your inner joy and keep you from celebrating your authentic, beautiful self!
The path to expanding your self-love and body confidence starts by making yourself a promise to first recognize the 3 C’s when they appear. Then, to deliberately choose to turn down the volume on those negative voices and remember that having a healthy body means something different for everyone.
Then, you’re going to practice appreciating yourself — shape, size, curves — everything that makes you, YOU!
The Compliment that Expanded My Self-Love and Acceptance
I used to complain about the changes I noticed after having three children – most noticeably the changes to my tummy and numerous stretch marks. Then my husband said something incredible that completely changed the way I saw my body.
He told me, “When I look at you, I see this amazing woman who has birthed our three beautiful children. When I see your body and your stretch marks, I see badges of courage.” Is that not the best compliment a woman could receive?
From that moment, my whole body confidence shifted, and my self-love and acceptance soared to new heights. Now when I look at my body, I don’t just see stretch marks. I see beyond the physical, I see the amazing gift of giving life and all that it represents for me as a mom, and I couldn’t be more proud.
My body has changed over the years. I no longer have the body of a 20-year-old, half-starved professional dancer. I’ve learned to appreciate the size and shape that is healthiest for me. I recognize that every woman has her own ideal shape and size. I’m able to celebrate and appreciate the unique beauty of every woman — whether they are thinner than me or more voluptuous than me. We’re all beautiful, exactly as we are. And I am actually healthier and happier than I’ve ever been now in my mid 40’s. And most importantly I see our body as the chalice for our Soul and the conduit for our life force energy and vehicle through which we bring forth our dreams.
My Top 3 Practices For Confidence and Body Acceptance
I’m inviting you to practice embracing, appreciating and celebrating yourself every single day starting right here, right now! Here are 3 simple practices to play with:
Self-Love Practice #1: A Message About Your Worth
For years, I’d weigh myself … and depending on what I weighed (especially as a professional dancer!), I’d either have a great day or a horrible day.
As you may know, it’s actually normal for weight to fluctuate a few pounds in a week, especially for women — and especially at that time of month, or depending on our sleep patterns! Even water weight shifts can cause weight fluctuations of a pound or so a day.
By letting a number on the scale determine my mood for the day, I was basically giving control of my happiness to my body’s inner chemistry, and ultimately determining my worthiness and level of aliveness.
To take back my joy and increase my self-love, I started leaving a sticky note on my bathroom scale that reads, “Your weight does not determine your worth. You are GORGEOUS!”
Seeing this uplifting message helps me appreciate, celebrate and love me for me. It reminds me of the truth of my being and the gift of another day of life. If your weight affects you the same way, I encourage you to use this same message and keep it by your bathroom scale. (But if you don’t have one or have thrown yours out – even better!)
Self-Love Practice #2: Appreciate The Little Things About Yourself
Write a message appreciating something, even a small thing about yourself and your body — anything you want to show extra love to each day. Write your message on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror or some other place where you’ll see it daily. This is a powerful exercise because, what you appreciate, “appreciates”, or in other words, what you focus on expands. If you focus on your flaws, all you will see are flaws. When you focus on gratitude, your level of gratitude for the gifts your body provides will expand and grow, which ultimately leads to unshakable self confidence.
For example, “I love my feet. I appreciate all the miles they’ve walked, all of the dances they’ve danced, and all of the places they’ve carried me.” Seeing a note that says, “I LOVE my feet!” on my bathroom mirror makes me smile and reminds me to send them a little burst of love and gratitude. In doing this I grow a deeper sense of confidence and empowerment that is a guiding light throughout my day.
Self-Love Practice #3: Write a Love Letter
Your body is truly amazing. Unfortunately, many of us don’t realize what a gift it is until we suffer from a health challenge. Let’s take the sticky note idea to an even deeper level.
I encourage you to actually take 5 minutes to write your body a heartfelt love letter. If this feels like a challenge you can start with small appreciations like to your heart and lungs, and then grow into braver areas that are harder to love or that we have cut ourselves off from.
Let your whole body know how much you appreciate it and how it allows you to experience this incredible life. Celebrate and appreciate the good health that you’re enjoying right now. Keep your letter handy, and read it whenever you need a pick-me-up, and boost of energy to remind you how blessed you truly are.
When you start your day with love and appreciation for your body, you will be amazed at how much your energy and joy lift and how those positive changes ripple out to affect every aspect of your life.
The secrets I’m revealing in this article are 3 of 28 very powerful exercises to shift your energy and create more aliveness…
Read the love letter to your body below that Julie wrote for inspiration…
During the Lighten Up program, you asked us to write a “love letter” to a part of our body. Since I am overweight and have several health problems, I can’t say that “love” is what I felt for my physique. I didn’t know where to begin so I just started writing to my whole body. As I wrote, the image of a woman came into my mind. She was sitting behind a table in a room that was white and barren. I entered the room and sat down in an empty chair. As I quietly watched this woman, this vision of my own body, I noticed the slump of her shoulders and the shadow under her eyes. She met my gaze with a loneliness that broke my heart.
I spoke and thanked her for surviving three separate hospitalizations any one of which could have killed her, killed me. I thanked her for fighting to survive and I realized that she had fought those battles alone without support or encouragement. She fought, despite the isolation, trying her best to keep our heart pumping, our lungs breathing and our muscles moving. And no one ever thanked her.
My heart was filled with compassion for this woman who had no friends and no one to talk to. I asked how I could help. She said that if she had less sugar to deal with, it would be easier and a little exercise would make her muscles feel better. As I promised to support her and assured her that she was no longer alone in her fight, I felt the first blush of attachment to this solitary soul.
Since that day, I frequently check in with my comadre. I sit quietly and envision her across the table. She’s looking better these days… less tired, more hopeful. Sometimes when I’m deciding what to eat, I ask her how she feels about a donut containing five teaspoons of sugar. She gently smiles and shakes her head; so, the donut goes back. What can I say? She’s my friend and friends stick together.
With warm regards,
Wow! What a breakthrough for Julie, isn’t this such an incredible letter! And Julie is just one example of the many breakthroughs and amazing moments found in project lighten up.
Challenge Yourself to 28 Days of Self-Love — Mind, Body and Soul
Creating more positive self acceptance, and body confidence is an amazing and important part of self-love, but there’s so much more to explore. If you want to take that higher energy and create permanent, positive shifts that leave you feeling brighter, lighter and healthier— from the inside out— Project Lighten Up is for you!
Project Lighten Up is a 28-day program I created with my amazing mother, Mary Morrissey, that features 28 fun, simple 5 minute practices to lighten up your mind, body and spirit.
Each day, you’ll receive a short 5 minute video lesson and quick action step from me and Mary, designed to help you reconnect with your inner self, shed limiting thoughts and ideas that have been holding you back, and shift your mindset to embrace your healthiest, happiest version of you.
In less than a month, you’ll be:
- Inspired – feeling more confident in your skin!
- Rejuvenated, with more free time and overflowing inner joy…
- Lighter, healthier and absolutely energized – body, mind, heart and soul
All you need is just 10 minutes a day to achieve a higher state of peace, vibrancy and vitality, plus create mindfulness habits that will serve you for the rest of your life.
In Project Lighten Up we pull back the curtains on our own personal lives, and you’ll discover…
- How we run our businesses and have great relationships with our families, while also nurturing
- Our secret health practices that keep us fit, strong, youthful and energetic!
- How we easily create the time for the people and activities that matter most to us, while making
- Solutions to clear and declutter small corners of your life to open up new energy and more prosperity in just minutes.
If you’re ready to get connected to your highest essence, develop greater self-love and acceptance, and experience your full vitality and vibrancy, join Project Lighten Up today!
Now, I’d love to hear from you, because life is better when we learn and share together…
Do you have a go-to self-love practice? Leave a comment for our amazing community down below!