There are a number of factors that go into having a positive body image, running the gamut from being satisfied with how you look, being happy with who you are, feeling good about yourself and not comparing yourself to others.
It is the latter, the comparison factor, that causes plenty of trouble for a lot of folks. Take me, for example, I all too often, albeit subconsciously, compare myself to another and find myself deflated rather quickly. And I am not talking about making blatant physical comparisons; those are easy to stamp out. Each of us is unique, I get that.
Still, elusive comparisons have a way of creeping in and often when you are feeling most confident. This morning, I was quite comfy in my own space in my Yoga class with my ungraceful Malasana pose (a squat of sorts)– forgive me if I’ve got the pose wrong; I am new to this–until I say the woman in front of me and the one beside me, etc. You get my drift.
And that is what happened, I drifted from a relatively body positive person, brimming with confidence to an unstable flat footed girlie of sorts. And as the instructor had said it was okay to go into child’s pose at any time, I took the opportunity to do so, shying away from Malasana.
It was in these few seconds in child’s pose that I remembered that such comparisons fall well below the conscious and are almost undeniable until they back you against a wall. Though I recovered rather quickly this morning, there have been other times that the feeling of deflation has dominated my person indefinitely, like when I was younger and felt that I didn’t fit in at a social event because my hair, my nose, etc… was different from everyone else’s.
I had a scar for the longest time about athletics because I was not as good as the other girls in my class. Instead of accepting that it just wasn’t my thing, I blamed it all on my body’s lack of ability and anytime athletics came up, well my body slumped, all of me did. Admittedly, it all sounds a bit ridiculous but in the heat of the moment, comparison can shake the most confident person’s body confidence.
Going back nearly seven years, I remember the comparison factor furtively stalking my 50th birthday party, forcing conversations about how one world was more enhanced than another’s either due to children, high powered jobs, husbands, properties, size and shape and so on. Make no mistake about it, we are not necessarily fickle people and didn’t spend our entire time talking consciously about such things, but caught off guard, the comparison factor had a way of sneaking in and forcing our backs against a wall.
Fortunately, we caught on and looked at the flip side, which is about admiration rather than comparison. Big difference. The minute we talked openly about admiring one another for our achievements, whether deep or peripheral, we returned to a spacious place. What a wonderful celebration!
Now back to my yoga class this morning. Did I ever do the Malasana pose as gracefully as the next person? Not a chance but I did the pose in the best taste that I could master and felt quite satisfied with my feet for it. I thanked them profusely. Gratitude is another key to trouncing the comparison factor.
So the next time, you begin to compare yourself to another and feel deflated physically and mentally, buck up with admiration and a dose of gratitude and embrace the space that you are in. It’s all about celebrating you—body and all. For more tips on maintaining a positive body image, check out Episode 4: Your Body Image Inside Out.