I got up in the dark of 5 am, put on my workout clothes that were stacked on my bathroom counter as usual, glanced in the mirror and thought, “Does my shirt cover enough of my butt in these running tights?” even though I’ve worn these same clothes numerous times before.
Little did I know at five in the morning that I was about to learn a lesson in how mindset matters in how we view ourselves.
Ten minutes later I was on the treadmill at the gym, , sweat flowing (because I’m a sweater, not argyle sweater but the dripping profusely kind of sweater). I glanced down to check my shoelaces and thought, “Man, I have nice looking legs in these leggings.” Next thought, “Must be because they are black.” Next thought, “Don’t look down or you’ll fall over.”
A good hour later, home from the gym and done with my shower, I stood in my closet trying to decide what to wear. I put on the black-striped dress and leggings – up on my toilet I went so I could look in our mirror above the counter (because we don’t have a full length mirror anymore). My first thought, “This dress makes my legs look chubby,” which is strange since the last time I had worn that dress I had thought it made my legs look slender.
Back to my closet to try the maroon dress with tan leggings. Up on the toilet, staring into the mirror, I did a frustrated hands-in-the air thing. “These light-colored leggings don’t hide my knobby knees,” I decided.
I stomped back to my closet for the red and black plaid dress. Onto the toilet, glaring into the mirror, and . . . nope. Of course not. A dress I’d worn plenty of times before, this time I thought hung funny on my body.
Flinging the dress over my head, I headed back to my closet, except I glanced at the clock and realized I was now late. I put the stupid black-striped dress back on for sake of time and thought, “This fits too tight around the middle.” (It fit the same as it did the last umpteen times I’d worn it before, but today, today I questioned the fit.
For Pete’s sake.
An hour later, I walked down the hall at school, looking at my shoes of all things. I thought, “I think it’s these shoes that make me not like this dress today. I should have worn different shoes.” I’ve loved these shoes every other time I’ve worn them.
Except not today.
Two class periods later, standing in the hall at break, watching kids mingle in the halls, I looked down and thought how nicely the black striped dress hung and thought, “I look good in this dress.”
Do you sense the whiplash?
Here is a public service announcement to all of you out there who may have experienced this sort of whiplashed thinking in your life:
Mindset matters in how we view ourselves. And our emotions can play with our eyes and our brain and seriously mess with our mindset.
By noon, my emotions had already told me that I looked healthy, chubby, skinny, put together, ugly, pretty, frumpy, and a dozen more variations of the same. There are days when I cannot trust my emotions. Because when my emotions are unsteady, my mindset follows suit.
Don’t trust your eyes and the mirror because depending on how you are feeling at that moment, your eyes can read the mirror differently from moment to moment.
The mirror is not the measure of your beauty.
How can something that plays tag team with your emotions to gang up on your mindset be considered trustworthy? It’s not possible. Mirrors do not measure your worth. We must always be aware that our mindset matters in how we view ourselves. And the mirror does not give us an accurate view.
Let’s replay my morning not based on how I viewed my wardrobe, but on my emotions:
overly tired because I had had a nightmare and didn’t sleep well
frustrated because my boys were at each other’s throats by 7 am
annoyed because my body had been tired during my morning workout
disappointed that our beautiful spring weather from the weekend had taken a nose dive back to winter
My emotions led my mindset down the negativity path which led my eyes to see every flaw, existent or not, on my body. I based my beauty, and in turn, my worth, on a faulty measure.
Body Shaming Based on Emotions Must Stop
I like to think I work very hard to not allow my emotions to dictate my perspective, but I am human, much to my dismay. I can let circumstances steer my emotions where they don’t need to go, and then my emotions think they can drag my mindset through the dirt, just because.
Negativity leads to lies in how I see myself. Because I’ve had a ton of practice through my recovery, I am able to spot the lies my negative emotions tell me. I know when I’m body shaming. I let my emotions and negative mindset talk, not truth.
What is truth? This is key, friend, so do not skim these words and do not forget them. In fact, read them out loud:
My worth is not based on my looks.
I do agree that how we look can effect our confidence. We need to take care of this body though nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, work/rest balance. When we have a positive self-concept based on healthy choices and balanced living, we cultivate a positive mindset.
But when taken to the extreme, when nutrition turns to disordered eating, when exercise becomes a compulsion, when sleep takes a backseat to everything else, when we work so hard to maintain an illogical ideal, our emotions dip dangerously low and our mindset nose dives.
The lies win.
We body shame ourselves into submission to a negative mindset that allows the mirror to tell us whether or not we are worthy.
Where Our Worth is Found
Life is an intentional, conscious, tiring, worthy battle to focus our mind on things above, not on worldly things. It is a battle to let God speak into our hearts and minds, to let his truth be our compass rather than the fickle emotional baggage we cart around.
I don’t downplay our emotions because they are part of who we are, but they are fickle in that a weird look from someone we pass in the hall can take us from being confident to questioning our self worth. And once again we are reminded that our mindset matters in how we view ourselves.
The key is being grounded in the truth that self worth is not based on our looks. The key is believing to your core that your self worth is based on God’s love for the person he created called — you.
Unless I let God speak to me of truth, I will let the lies speak to me instead. Lies cannot be allowed control.
Believe in your heart, your soul, your mind, and believe with all your strength that God put you together perfectly. If the God who put the universe into being put your body together, I’d say we’re in good hands. Steer clear of the mirrors and the lies our human emotions prey on. Fill your heart with truth. And your mindset will follow. It takes practice, intentionality, and determination.
Be strong against the pull of your emotions. Don’t allow them to get the upper hand. Put more positive in your mind than negative. Fill your mind with what is pure, lovely, admirable, noble, true, excellent, and right. Surround yourself with truth from the One who is the source of all truth. And speak to yourself as a cherished child of God.
Tell yourself you look good because God made you good. Let your inner beauty make your eyes sparkle and your smile genuine. Compliment others and yourself, speak affirmations to others and yourself, focus on loving others instead of hating yourself. Your emotions will take the back seat and steadfast truth will drive your life.
And not stepping in front of the mirror will do wonders for cultivating truth exponentially. Depend on God’s eyes, not your own!