Our sense of self in midlife.
A psychotherapist's view’.
Confidence is such a broad description. And, what is often hiding behind its loss, is a very specific discomfort with our bodies. We may not voice it. Afterall, despite teaching us for much of our lives that how we look is how we will be measured, as we reach midlife, many of us feel that acknowledging a knock to our self-esteem or body image is vain or frivolous.
Which is why we chose this topic for discussion for September’s Meno-Well workshop, our monthly community programme for curious minds. Holli Rubin is a psychotherapist, body image specialist, mental health practitioner and wellness director at The Soke. And the session was a fascinating exploration of the complex relationship between our self-esteem and the way we feel about our bodies.
- Self esteem and body image are often interlinked - but both can be helpfully viewed through the lens of how we ‘think and feel’ rather than what we ‘see’
- What we ‘see’ may be very different from how others see us
- Change is often the catalyst for a shift in our feelings about our bodies; from trauma, to life-stage transitions, when change happens we can become less comfortable in our bodies and this impacts confidence and our mental health
- Societal narratives may result in a sense of shame in voicing the impact of a loss in self-esteem and how we feel about our bodies
- This means, as a topic and, in affect, a common ‘symptom’ of menopause, it isn’t talked about. And many of us struggle in silence. And when we do, our worlds can become smaller
Although every individual’s relationship with their body and mind is unique, and the way we feel influenced by often long-held (and taught) beliefs, Holli has three tips for those of us struggling with self-esteem and body-image now:
- Invite in gratitude: look at how far you’ve come, what your body has ‘achieved’ and done, and what it has carried
- Move: as a way to enhance mental health but also to reconnect with your body as it is now
- Find community: talking about how we feel is often how we start the process of acceptance and self-love.
To dig deeper into the topic, Holli recommended the two go-to books:
Bodies (Big Ideas), Susie Orbach
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: The Complete Guide to Women’s Health & Wellbeing, Dr Christine Northrup
With love, the MPowder Team
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