Do you find yourself watching others swim while you sit on the sidelines? Make this the summer you actually get in the pool.
Self-Worth Analyst Karen Eddington helps us conquer our bathing suit fears.
Have you experienced it, that battle in front of the bathroom mirror? You feel the tightening in your chest. You shake your head. All you can think about is cellulite, spider veins, bad tan lines, love handles, and feeling embarrassed. Then, you grab for your favorite jeans and turtleneck to wear in 100 degree weather, at the pool! All while trying to convince everyone (including yourself) you’re staying cool in the shade, in your comfy clothes. Watching. Just watching. The fear, anxiety, and insecurity of wearing a bathing suit can overpower your willingness to participate and you sit this one out. Again.
What kind of swimmer are you?
A) I’m the “I-wear-jeans-to-the-pool-and-just-sit-in-the-shade-woman.”
B) I’m the “I-wear-my-swimsuit-under-a-cover-up-but-never-get-in-the-water-lady.”
C) I’m the “Just-lay-out-and-get-a-tan-teenager.”
A.K.A: The stay in one spot effect, “If I don’t walk around, less people will see me.”
D) I’m the “I’ll-stick-my-feet-in-but-don’t-get-my-hair-wet-mom”
E) I swim, “Cannon Ball…”
No matter what our pool preferences are there are usually two fears that prevent us from enjoying ourselves:
1. “What will other people think of me?”
2. “What do I think about myself?”
Fear #1 What will others think?
Let’s face it a bathing suit is revealing. One of the big things that hold us back from swimming is a fear of what you think other people will think. Most of the time that picture in our head is much worse, much more traumatic, much more blown out of proportion that what is really real. The big secret is people think about you less then you think. But the struggle, what we perceive, is real to us.
Solution: Stop Mind-Reading
Mind-Reading is a thinking error, meaning we start to believe something incorrect. It is when we automatically assume people are thinking negative thoughts about us. “She thinks I’m fat.” “He won’t like me if he sees me in my swimming suit.”Recognize these thoughts and replace them with a positive fact, or choice. Check out how this works:
“I can’t swim at my student council party. Nobody will like me after they see me in a swimming suit.” STOP. Recognize the thinking error. Replace it with a positive fact. “I can swim at the student council party. I know that I am a person of worth. I want to participate.”
“But what if people really do have negative thoughts about me?” You can’t control what other people think or say. If you are getting bullied that is one thing, get help. However, you are going to emotionally exhaust yourself trying to please other people. You have got to let go of having approval and start living. The opinion of another person is not vital to your success or failure– what really matters is the choices you make while being surrounded by opinions. Great people across history have done great things even when being told they would never amount to anything. Are you missing out on memories, laughter, and opportunity because you are letting your fear of what someone else thinks control your happiness?
Fear #2 What do I think about myself?
The biggest battle of all usually takes place within including what we see, think, and feel about ourselves. This struggle is absolutely real. It can be debilitating. No one but you will be able to work through your battles. Life is a struggle when you don’t feel like you are important, when you don’t feel good enough, when you see other people who you assume are so much better than you are. For some reason (I think it is the lycra spandex) a swimming suit amplifies these struggles.
Solution: Choose Confidence
You’ve got to consciously make a decision to let living your life become greater than your fears.
Confidence, belief in your value—truly knowing you matter, is like superglue. It can emotionally hold you together and carry you through something as simple as a family swim party, or as complex as someone making fun of a flaw. When you are at the pool this summer start very simply by recognizing, “I matter.” Choose to pay attention to that belief, this is confidence. (this is not “I matter more than you,” or “you matter more than me,” it’s flat out “I matter.”)
One of the greatest lessons we learn in life is coming to an understanding that we matter unconditionally, imperfect and flawed as we are, surrounded by other people who matter too, yet we still deeply matter. This is a lesson we will need to discover time and time again. Courage is letting our dreams and desire to participate become greater than our fears.
Bonus Resource: Check out the book “Today, I Live…a gift of peace for girls at any age” by Karen C. Eddington for more help. Order on amazon.com.
Karen Eddington is a Self-Worth Analyst and has spent over ten years researching women and teens. She is the author of Today, I Live and is a popular speaker on self-esteem. For more information you can go to www.kareneddington.com