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Welcome back to ask Jesse Neelan I’m Jesse, this is my Q and a video series. I’m actually answering a question. That’s come up recently in several of my coaching calls, which is the question of what does it look like when you love your body? Or what does it look like or feel like to arrive at body confidence or self acceptance, or self-love basically, what does it look like and feel like after you’ve healed your body image issues. And I want to answer this for a few reasons. The first one is that it’s really important that I make very clear that there’s no arrival. Um, it is an ongoing process. It is a lifelong process because what it really is, is the, the question of self-acceptance in all of its forms. Um, it’s not as simple as just learning to like, love your thighs and, you know, get on with it because we do live in a message filled society with all of these messages, for women, about how our worth is tied to our looks and our youth and our weight and all of these things that we have to perfect ourselves in order to be lovable and to be wanted and to be okay, accepted and belong.
So it’s really difficult in the, in the world that we live in. It’s really, really difficult. And therefore for that reason alone, it is an ongoing process. It’s not something you just arrive at and then you’re done working on it forever. It is however, incredibly different to be on the other side. For me, the other side of what I consider to be doing a lot of the healing healing work around this stuff, um, where I can still, so here, the self critical voices that you used to plague me all the time. I can still hear them in my head, but they don’t have any power. And I want to really just demonstrate by sharing a little anecdote with you, what that actually means in practice, because I do consider myself to be as far on the other side of having healed body image issues as a person can be that, that, that these messages don’t hold power for me anymore.
Um, that they’re in no way tied to my worth, that you could certainly hurt my feelings if you insulted me, uh, or my body or my looks like you’re mean to me, it would hurt. It will always hurt, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s no longer attached to my worth. It’s no longer attached to my identity. And that’s the big difference in my mind for what before and after looks like the before for most people is a sense that their identity, their right worth, their value, their lovability, their ability to connect or be accepted, um, that at all has to do with their bodies and their appearances. And that afterwards that’s no longer the case. So it’s really a separation. One of those things, which of course requires both really digging into the cultural messages because that’s the messages we get that all that’s true.
Um, and it also requires cultivating a sense from the inside of who you really are. And part of that is cultivating the sensations that your body’s giving you, learning how to actually recognize the messages your body’s constantly talking to you and telling you, um, from things like skin sensation, uh, to emotions, to intuition that these are ways your body talks to you constantly. And a lot of the messages it gives you are cues, like things you have to do. So you have to learn how to cultivate that connection to the inside and cultivate a life that supports this. You, this amazingly unique, you who you are, who is a value, no matter what you look like. So that’s kind of what I believe the work is separating the identity from how you look cultivating a strong sense of connection to you, both your physical sensations and cues.
Um, and also like who you are, who you want to be in the world, what lights you up? What do you have to offer? You know, the universe, like, what are you here for? So kind of big existential stuff comes up for this, but on the far side of that, um, it’s not that you’re impervious to body image issues or messages because those things will still come up. Um, you know, you’ll try on a jumpsuit one day and you’ll be like, Oh my God, like my body looks terrible. And you’ll notice that it’s not that you’re going to totally stop noticing that it’s, that it won’t have power that right now, that might be hard to imagine because noticing that you’re like, you know, love handles are spilling over and you obviously need a bigger size than you’re used to, or something might be a cause for panic.
Um, but when you start really working with body image, issue healing, uh, you can start to see that these are not actually negative things you’re noticing. They’re just things like your body is full of stuff to notice. You might notice that I have more gray hairs than I’m used to, or, uh, Oh, I’ve gained a few pounds or, you know, whatever, Oh, I have a breakout and all of those things are okay. They’re actually totally normal and totally okay. And you can notice them without having the barrage of criticisms in your head and your ear, you know? So when I talk about what it looks like and feels like to be on the other side of body image issues, what I mean is that yes, you notice things that used to trigger you into self criticism or self doubt, but they don’t hold any power.
And to demonstrate that I wanted to share, um, a quick story of what this actually looks like for me recently. So I was recently at a party and I was wearing a crop top. Um, and I had felt really bloated when I put that crop top on, but I was traveling and I hadn’t packed much else. Um, and I really wanted to wear it. It was this really cool looking top that I hadn’t had an excuse to wear yet. And I had an excuse to wear it that night. And so I noticed that I was bloated and my first thought was like, you can’t wear this here too bloated. And then that thought didn’t have any power. It just was there. It just like, you know, walked across to the front of my mind. And I was like, huh, thank you, message. I’m going to wear it.
So then I wore it and I made a conscious effort throughout the evening. There were times that I’d catch myself, like sucking my belly and cause I was like, everybody can see that I’m bloated in this crop top. Um, and then I’d make the conscious effort to relax at the moment I noticed, you know, it just happened occasionally, cause I’ve worked really hard for years to learn how to relax my belly and not hold it in. Um, but you know, I would just, occasionally you know, I’d be like someone new would join the conversation. And I would notice like, Ooh, I sucked it in again. Okay. Let it go. So there was a couple moments like that throughout the night, but I knew I was staying in my power as somebody who feels strongly about, you know, for example, wearing a crop top when you’re bloated, because it’s not actually bad to have a nice round belly is totally fine.
There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no reason to hide that. So I was staying in my integrity by making these choices. And then I was dancing. I was dancing on the floor, we’re all dancing. And I saw this guy who years ago, um, I asked out and he turned me down because he had just started dating someone who I think is his fiance now, or maybe they’re married. Um, but she was there too. And she says, fabulous fitness girl. Like she just has like a rockin super hard, you know, super tight fitness body. She’s gorgeous. So I see him and I see her. And again, I see this thing happens in my brain and what it is is the old message. The old thing that my brain would have said that I would have freaked the fuck out about paralysis through my mind. And it says something like this.
Cause you know, I stopped working out basically. Um, and I, I no longer have like that, you know, tightly fitness body anymore. I’m not a trainer. I’ve meant changed a lot of priorities in my life. So I’m much softer now. Um, and of course I had that extra knowledge that I was kind of bloated and wearing a crop top. So the old message prances through my mind and it says, he’s going to look at me and he’s going to think, wow, Jessie has really let herself go. Thank God. I turned her down on that date so many years ago and have this hot ass fitness model wife. And as it occurred to me, I felt momentarily like, uh, like, Oh no, that’d be so sad if he thought that like, that would just suck, you know, what a bad feeling. And then I remembered, Oh yeah, like that’s madness. I don’t care about any of that. And then the next thought that paraded be right behind it, right on its tail. So like that kind of marched through my brain. And I was like, interesting. And then right behind, it was, you’re a boss asks body image, coach who made choices that are totally in alignment with your beliefs and your values and your brand and your like best life. So if he thought that
You’d be wrong and
I don’t think he would anyway, right. Like that’s not something most people actually think to themselves. Um, but you know, five years ago it would have killed me. I would have been so self conscious and so embarrassed and like so insecure, you know, around him or just, I would suddenly have felt like everyone was looking at me and how I wasn’t good enough. So it was just a completely different conversation in my head. It was like the old message, which really made me be like, what a mean thing to say to myself. Like I noticed it, it didn’t have power for me. I just was like, that’s incredibly mean what a mean thought. And then right behind it was this rush of validation for myself, which is like, Hey man, yeah, you’re softer. And you’re rocking this top was a little bit of a bloated belly because that is what you fucking believe in.
That’s what I was able to tie my identity to my values, my integrity, not what I look like. Not what somebody else thinks of me. So that was just a quick example. And I had the same thought with her too. Like, you know, I wonder probably not. Did he ever mentioned that? I asked him out, but like I did wonder, man, if she knows that I asked him out right. When they started dating, like I bet she doesn’t like me and I bet she’s going to look over here and be like, yeah, that’s right, bitch. Like, who looks better now? Right. So again, it’s that old message of just meanness, just self bullying, really of just projecting, imagining the worst thing I could think of these two really nice people who I like would say about me in their own heads when they saw me.
And that is the old way of thinking. And I would be lying if I said I never had thoughts like that. Like if that never crossed my mind or anything, because I do occasionally have those thoughts, but they have no power because now I can notice it and go, wow, that was a mean thing to say to yourself. And then right behind it comes a validation that has nothing to do with what I look like. If it did have to do with what I looked like, it wouldn’t be deep enough to really validate, you know, like I can’t just say, Oh, screw them. I look even better curvy. Like, cause I don’t know if I think that’s true. I think both were fine, but it’s not about that. It can’t be about that. So healing body image issues means you have to tie yourself your value, your worthiness, your ability to validate yourself, um, to something that isn’t what you look like.
And that’s a huge, huge part of it. A lot of my clients come in and they think they have to learn how to believe that they look perfect or that they have to believe that they’re beautiful or sexy. And I don’t believe that that’s possible. I mean, it might be possible, but it’s not the point. And it’s actually a far more challenging way. I think of trying to get to the same goal when really what we want is to feel valid, valued, loved, accepted, like we belong. And like people like us, it’s so simple. We want to connect with people and we want to feel worthy of connection. So for me, the fact that I used to think I was only worthy of connection based on how I looked is what that old message says due to the true you don’t look good enough. That’s why you’re not worthy of connection.
They’re going to be mean to you a little bit, but it doesn’t have power anymore because I know now that my worthiness of connection is based on something completely else. And for me that night, it was about this, you know, my integrity as a, as a body image coach and what I believe to be, um, a leader in, in this field. Uh, so it was allowing me to time myself to something so much deeper, so much bigger than like a soft belly and you know, having gone up a size or two since I saw them last, you know, so, and so that’s what in my practice or like in my, you know, story that, that’s what it looks like to be on the other side. And I hope that this is helpful. Um, I’ve mentioned this story a few times with clients where it’s like trying to answer that question cause nobody knows how to set a goal for body image.
You know, like, well, what am I even going for? Like what is this gonna look like or feel like, or sound like when I actually succeed at healing from body image issues. And a lot of times, first of all, you know, it’s not an end point. It can never be an end point. Yeah. But a lot of times it’s, it’s something like that. Yes. Where you can notice the same stuff you might notice now, although I notice it way less often, let me be clear. Um, but you know, occasionally those thoughts still arrive and you can just observe them pretty impartially. Like you can immediately remember that the truth is that if somebody doesn’t like me, because I’m like higher body fat percentage, like my goodness do I not want that person in my life? You know? So my worthiness of connection is not based on what other people think of me and what they see when they look at me.
Um, it’s not even how they treat me. It’s definitely not what I look like. And those are the things that have allowed me to get to this point where I can say those, you know, I can tell this story and offer the insight that those messages are never going to fully go away, but you do have the power of not being, um, you know, caught up in them or impacted by them in the kind of negative triggering panicky, stressed out way that most people, most women that I work with anyway, um, find themselves doing now. So I hope that’s helpful. Um, you can always submit your questions for ask Jesse Nealon at my website, jessilyn.com/contact.