How to Cultivate Healthy Habits For a Positive Self-Image

I was 12 when I first picked up a copy of 1984. I’d always been a reader. Seduced by the written word, literature was my window into worlds unknown. I’m not sure I ever felt comfortable in my own skin and took every chance I could to escape.
Orwell’s work bewitched me. Between the lines of 1984, I unearthed the source of so many of my childish musings: is how we see things all there is to see? Or more specifically, is how I see myself how others see me?
Shyness had always plagued me because I used to think I was ugly and fat. Looking back now I can see how much it limited me.
As a yoga teacher I have learned to be more accepting of who I am. Yet I often hear students say, “I can’t do that,” and they hang back, embarrassed by their bodies or stuck in the belief they’re not good enough.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” -William Shakespeare

It got me thinking about how strongly self-image is connected to our decisions and life choices.
We tell ourselves stories in order to survive. There is so much information coming to us via our senses each day it is necessary to create a framework that helps us filter and understand all that data and bring context to our experiences. That framework is created from our values, our beliefs and our experiences. It helps to inform us about who we are and how we should behave—you could think of it like a computer operating system.
The trouble is sometimes that operating system can get a little sticky and we can misinterpret situations or ourselves in a way that is not helpful but limiting.

“Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re probably right.” -Henry Ford

It’s often been said we fulfill who we believe ourselves to be. So if we have a short-sighted or skewed view, we get stuck. It can be incredibly disempowering.

What if we were able to flip our perspective on who we perceive ourselves to be? What if you could silence your insecurities and turn any sense of inadequacy around? If you could feel more comfortable in your own skin would it change what you thought you were capable of?
The truth is we are all powerful beyond measure but seeing it takes some practice. If we work to cultivate a more positive self-image, it will help make us feel more empowered and unlock doors we previously thought were closed to us.

Here are some suggestions to help you cultivate a healthy self-image and take your power back:

Practice self love
We are all our own worst critic, so practice kindness towards yourself. Catch yourself any time the negativity surfaces and change the story you are telling yourself. If it’s one of “I can’t do this,” flip it to one of “I can do this, but it may take some practice.”
Omit negative language
The should’s, should not’s, can’s and cannot’s all need to go.
Stop judging yourself
Stop interpreting behavior, thoughts, and feelings as good or bad. Accept them and yourself as they are.
Restrict your media consumption
Choose how and where you consume mass media. Don’t benchmark yourself against society’s idea of who you should be.
Get comfortable in your own skin
Look after yourself by eating well and exercising regularly. Focus on health and well-being, opposed to wishing you were thinner or more beautiful.
Be grateful
Pick one thing each day that you like about yourself and can be grateful for. Write it on a sticky note and stick it to your mirror!
Try new things
Push yourself outside your comfort zone from time to time. Challenge is the fastest path to transformation.
Get to know your own mind. Spend time in contemplation and consider keeping a journal to help you understand the deeper workings of your own consciousness.
Speak up
Practice self-expression. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and opinions or communicate your needs.
Take your time and be gentle.
New habits take practice and many of the beliefs that are connected with our self-image and identity stem from our childhood conditioning.
Just remember that regardless of your current path and where you want to go from here, you are perfect just the way you are.

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Katherine Smith

I am a yoga teacher and writer filled with wanderlust. I have a finely tuned appetite for adventure and a healthy thirst for cocktails and coffee. I am inspired by simple pleasures. I am passionate about all things wellbeing, making people happy and standing on my hands. I love shoes, feeding friends and snuggles. I host yoga retreats across the globe intended to uplift, nourish and stir the soul.

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