Then vs now: The power of mindset

I'm thinking back to me at age 16. I was very unhappy back then. I spent years hiding body parts and smothering makeup on to try and feel prettier and like I fitted in. No matter what I did, I felt ugly, ashamed and like no one would love me. I didn't know what 'self-love' was, only 'self-hatred'. Those thoughts of hate manifested into deep beliefs and habits that led me down the darkest life path.


Fast forward to the 50-year-old me, wearing what colour I like on my hair, letting those grey hairs grow, loving my body size and shape no matter what I look like, and going out without makeup on if I want to.

What's changed?

My mindset. That's the only thing that has changed, yet I do not recognise that 16-year-old girl anymore, as she is a shadow of how I felt, not what I am now. She constantly put herself down and drank alcohol to run away from herself. She got into the wrong relationships and felt very unhappy and alone. She didn't feel worthy enough to look after herself and spent her evenings eating junk food, drinking wine and smoking cigarettes. She would fall into weekends and party so hard that she missed a night's sleep every Saturday night. No one ever saw her without makeup on, and if they did, would not recognise her.

The version of me now has grown into 'love', as I spend time with myself daily, exercising my mind and body with goodness and wholesomeness. 

Today I can look in the mirror and say 'I love you' and mean it with every ounce of my being.

When I was younger, I developed body dysmorphic disorder because I simply didn't know how to love myself; such a simple way of being that so many of us struggle to do. It took many years of healing, meditation retreats, studying the brain and wanting to change. And at the age of 36, I turned into the person I never thought I would; I started to see myself in a whole new light as I turned into the 'me' that I am today. But before that happened, I needed to go through the healing process as I opened up the 'can of worms' to my mind and worked through each and every thought that wasn't wholesome.

And that is why I love the work that I do now as a body image coach for teens. I know how teens feel when they can't cope with how they look and how no one understands how they feel. I also know how to shine the light on their mindset and offer them a way out, starting at ages 11 upwards.

When I work with adolescents, I show them that it’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel about your looks. This can be a hard pill for them to swallow and in my animated psycho-educational workshops, I show them how they can give importance to how they feel, more than how they look.

Just as the mind creates positive thoughts, it can create negative thoughts, also. The mind can create hatred for the body and face, and 'you' as a human being, based on how you feel about what you see in yourself.

"The mind is like a baby with wants and needs".  I call this the “crybaby”.

Visualise a cartoon baby crying and howling for attention, what is it wearing, boy or girl, how loud is it crying? This is your own crybaby, and, yes, we all have one. Some are louder than others. Everyone hears the crybaby at parts of their lives, no matter how young/old they are.

So, a teen’s healing journey starts when they can see that their crybaby needs some attention and tender loving care, in order for it to feel safe and loved.

When teens have the knowledge that their crybaby is a part of them, not the whole of them, and that they can control the crybaby by feeding it with love; at some point, it will turn into a loving baby.

Let me give you an example.

Starting with a single thought "My nose is too big", you are programming into your ‘crybaby’ the thought – "my nose is too big". Crybaby hears this instruction and believes you, why would you lie to your crybaby? To your mind? Crybaby wants to protect you so it whispers to you to check your nose in the mirror, to see if it’s true. You look in the mirror and reconfirm to crybaby that it is true, and the belief grows bigger, and bigger, and bigger until it becomes magnified into a self-limiting belief, which is, "If your nose is too big you can’t go out, people will see you". And so, you stay in and the whole thought cycle goes on, and on, and on, forever listening to crybaby, forever checking in the mirror and being horrified, forever staying in to avoid people seeing you.

Here’s the reality of that example:

  • You may have a very normal nose.
  • You may have a slightly, ever so slightly bigger than average nose.
  • You may have a very slightly crooked nose.
  • A pimple on your nose.
  • A small thread vein.
  • You may have a biggish nose.
  • You may have a big nose.
  • You may have a very big nose.

All of which are absolutely fine.

No matter what your nose looks like, you have made yourself feel worse by feeding your crybaby with self-limiting beliefs. If you had a nose as big as the moon, we would still love you, and you are still accepted in this world. And yes, you should still go out.

You are safe to have whatever nose you have. Crybaby needs to feel safe and loved in order to function properly. I will show you how to feed your crybaby with love even if it feels alien and wrong to you. Practice makes a changed mindset.

We all have a crybaby, I just choose to feed mine with loving thoughts about myself and it eventually goes away when it feels safe.

Who do we seek approval from, for our appearance? Who is the only person we need to seek approval from, for our appearance?

I hope you’ve answered "myself" to this question, as seeking approval from anyone other than yourself is like asking them to look after your crybaby (mind) and feed it with whatever thoughts they wish. By seeking approval from others, you are putting yourself into a very vulnerable position as you await their approval of you, which could be good or bad.

Take your power back!

How to let go of self-limiting beliefs 

So how do you start to feed your crybaby with love when you’ve had a lifetime of feeding it with hatred?

Today is a good day to start.

Have a journal and pen by your bedside and write down your thoughts each day, as you do the following...

Repeat the following affirmation 1000 times each day – "I love and accept my skin and my lines." Or, "I love and accept..." (fill in the blank with what feels needed.)

You are accepting this moment as this moment is all that matters to your crybaby. In this moment, your crybaby wants to feel safe and loved.

If you use your affirmation 1000 times a day, silently in your mind, or out loud (it is your choice), after six months, you will start to feel differently about yourself, as you are reprogramming your crybaby with new data.

Expect your crybaby to kick up a big fuss about your chosen affirmation because it doesn’t want to learn new pathways of behaviour, and so it will do everything it can to persuade you into old ways of thinking. But please keep going with this and write your journey down in your journal; watch your crybaby change and quieten down as the months roll on.

If you would like more support, you can request the full body image programme and one-to-one's for your child by contacting me.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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