Why is it that we all experience thoughts like we’re unattractive even when we’re usually feeling confident?
Many things can affect our mood. When we are tired, hungry, hurt physically or emotionally (triggered), or stressed, our walls of defense come down and this can leave us feeling vulnerable- vulnerable to others’ opinions and vulnerable to our own insecurities. When we are in this state, it is very easy to start comparing ourselves to others and/or to experience imposter syndrome. We become very negatively biased, and it feels like all we remember are the things that are wrong with us or less than perfect.
By focusing on the external parts of us, we avoid focusing on the internal parts of us that are feeling overwhelmed. There are many reasons for this which can be explored in individual therapy, but quite often, negative self-talk can be a deflection from having to feel the emotions that make us feel out-of-control and uncomfortable.
What are some techniques we can do to help change that “I’m so ugly” mindset?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that they have the ability to change how they are feeling by changing their thoughts. In therapy, we identify this method as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Basically, when we think of negative things, we feel negative emotions, and often this results in negative self-talk and/or self-harm whether that be over-eating, over-exercising, numbing the pain with substances, etc. After doing these things to ourselves, we usually feel ashamed, embarrassed, or upset which may lead to the same toxic cycle of thinking negative thoughts, feeling negative emotions, etc.
The loop continues and it gets harder and harder to get out of it as the noise becomes louder and louder. What’s important to know is that we have a choice in which thoughts we decide to focus on. It’s said that we have over 50,000 thoughts a day, yet we choose to focus on a select few of them. Most of this is done unconsciously but imagine the power that could be gained by becoming conscious of our many thoughts, if we were to intentionally reject the thoughts that are making us feel bad and invite the ones that remind us of our strengths, the ones that tell us that it’s okay to have a bad day and that it’s okay to feel bad and that you are not a bad person for feeling negative feelings.
We can do this with mindfulness techniques. There are many apps out there such as Calm, Headspace, and the Mindfulness apps, that have a library of different mindfulness exercises. Some are as quick as 5-10 minutes to complete. Finding a mantra to repeat to yourself when negative self-talk appears such as, “This is the anxiety talking. There is nothing wrong with me.” or “I am good, I am kind, I am unique.” Eventually the mind with move on to another thought. Wearing your favorite shoes or jacket or taking the time to do something nice for yourself that day can also help remind yourself that you love who you are and that you don’t believe in those thoughts.
We all have bad days and nobody is perfect. Release yourself from any unrealistic expectations. Give yourself the freedom to just be yourself without trying to control how your body looks or how others see you. And remember whether you are feeling positive feelings or negative feelings, you are still beautiful.