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Episode 16 - Self Image

The way you think about yourself might have more of an impact on your marriage than you realize.

Join me this week as we talk about self image and how it applies to how we show up in our marriages as well as some practical tools for what to do about it.

00:00 Episode 16, self image.

00:15 Welcome to the first year married podcast, where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm marriage coach Kayla Levin, and I take newly-married and engaged women from anxious and insecure to confident and connected through practical tips, real life inspiration, and more than a little self awareness along the way.

00:38 Welcome back, ladies. I am excited to share this one with you. I think this is the beginning of a longer conversation, though, and I would love to get your feedback and your thoughts and your experiences.

00:50 At one point recently ... actually, it wasn't so recently. It was probably a couple years ago, my husband and I were talking and I made the observation that it seemed that women were getting the relationships that they thought they deserved. I saw women who respected themselves and who held themselves high and had very good self esteem sort of end up dating guys that treated them more respectfully than women who had lower self esteem. Now, maybe this is really obvious, but as a coach it fascinated me. It really fascinated me because it really sort of goes to show how the model, how our thoughts really create the reality around us. I had a coaching call recently with a single woman and she's so phenomenally beautiful and intelligent and fabulous, and I just love talking to her. It was so fascinating to me because her thought about dating was, I just need to find a unicorn. And it sounded like it was ... this is after we had coached, right? So it sounded like this is already a positive thought, like I just need to find a unicorn. That's not negative, that's not all men are pigs. I'm just looking for the unicorn.

01:57 But what I showed her is that that's an inherently negative comment, so I tried to get her to re-frame it as, they're all unicorns, I'm just looking for mine. If the thought is men are pigs, you're going to end up with a pig, and if men are princes, you somehow end up with a prince.

02:15 Alison Armstrong does a really amazing job talking about this. I know I bring her up a lot. It's just because she is the person who really turned my whole experience in my relationship on its head. I'm so inspired by her work and I so highly recommend it. And she came up with this metaphor of frog farming. And what it means is that instead of kissing the frog and turning him into a prince, she was kissing princes and turning them into frogs.

02:39 So that's the person coming a long and thinking, not this client, but anyone, a theoretical person, thinking all men are pigs. She meets a guy who maybe is the exception, but if she really believes all men are pigs, guess what he's going to end up being.

02:53 And so where I think this comes out so much in our marriages, because most of the people who are listening to this podcast are already married, that's actually where I really want to explore. That's what I want to be looking more deeply into. What are we experiencing in our marriages, not because of what we think of him, right, I talk a lot about that. He's insensitive or he shouldn't be acting that way. And then I feel a certain amount of things. But what if what I'm experiencing is also deeply about what I think of me?

03:29 We're sort of fed the fairly tale, which is that the woman, when she's at rock bottom, the prince comes along. But until then, everyone in the story is a troll. No one's great. It doesn't really encourage us to get out of rock bottom, does it? It's like, you've got to get there for things to get better. I really wonder what that has to do with how the marriage itself plays out.

03:53 So I want to encourage everyone to sort of start this dialogue with me, and it can be private. It can be a monologue for you if you don't want to reach out. But to start asking these questions, right? It's not just what I think about men, it's not just what I think about marriage and the institution and the commitment and can people commit anymore, can you keep a marriage alive and all these things that we, you know, much ink has been spilled. But it's also very deeply about what do I think about me, and what do I think I deserve, and what do I think I can handle. What can I manage? What am I ready for?

04:29 And I want to really encourage you to take some time to examine that for yourself. It might also be valuable for you to go back and think about your dating life, right? If you dated for a while before you ended up getting married, the different people that you dated, and noticing how that often played into what your self image was at the time.

04:55 One of the things that I most love to do with my clients is to point out to them that you don't have to find the thought that's the most true. So, sometimes, the most negative thought is the one that feels the most true because it really hits you in the gut, right? All men are pigs just feels more true than men are fabulous. Men are all princes, right? It feels more true because that negative, it's just a stronger feeling than the positive.

05:23 I don't deserve a decent relationship. I'm not one of those women. I'm not one of them that has a happy marriage. I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to do this. I'm somehow handicapped because my parents were divorced, or I had a bad dating life, or it took me a long time, or I somehow settled when I decided to marry this person, or he's different than I thought he was. All of these thoughts, starting to examine how they're playing out in your marriage, because what happens is obviously we're not ... none of us are going out of our way to think negatively, right? But when we're not paying attention, that's what happens. Our brain just goes there. The thing that we're trying to do is to keep going back into our brain, noticing our brain, where is my brain going, redirecting it and getting it to a place that's going to get me a better result. And this, again, this is what I love to do with my clients, which is to say, I don't care what thought feels the most true. I don't care if you are embarrassed by your thought.

06:22 Maybe, I have ... you know, people are nervous that someone else is going to find out their thought and judge them for it. What if you think you're phenomenal? What if you think you're spectacular? What if you think your husband struck gold when he married you? You don't have to tell anyone, but think about how that thought is going to make you feel, how it's going to make you act, how you'll show up in your marriage based on a more positive thought, and then what that's going to do for your marriage.

06:52 And sometimes, what we need to do is over-correct, right? So, I've talked before about taking baby steps, right? So, if you say, let's say you say to yourself, I don't know how to do this marriage thing. It's very complicated and I have bad modeling and I've never had a good relationship. So then, sometimes we just baby step sort of to the more neutral thought, right? We're just moving in the direction of a more positive thought, because it can be hard to jump. So I might baby step my way to, this is the only relationship that needs to work. I didn't marry those other people, and so it didn't matter that those didn't work out. They weren't meant to, because this is the one I was supposed to end up with. I can go there.

07:30 This is a much more neutral thought, okay? But what if I over-correct? Sometimes this works, too. Sometimes I can go the polar opposite and just the drama of the change, somehow my brain will just be surprised into accepting it. What if I am a fantastic wife, even when I make mistakes? I'm a fantastic wife. Now, different people, this is going to come out differently, right? So, if you're already on the confident side and you go, like, I am the best, then that might not be great for you, because it might mean that you have a conflict with your husband, then you're like, I can't really hear anything that you're saying because I'm fabulous, and you don't know what you're talking about, right? We're not going for that.

08:15 But sometimes over-correcting for the person who's extremely not confident, what happens is that when we have a new thought, or we ask a question, our brain starts to find a lot of evidence for why that's true. I have a thought that I lead a very charmed life, so my brain is always finding evidence that my life is charmed. I look around and I always see these things, they shouldn't even be that good. It's just great. And even when bad things happen to me, like I know that when I got my diagnosis for type one diabetes, which is a ... you know, people would put in the circumstance line, put in the literal line that that's a bad diagnosis, the first thing I thought was like, wow, out of all the autoimmune conditions, I could have gotten one that would have landed me on the couch for days on end. And I got one where I just have to give myself a shot. And hey, I've done that before. It doesn't even bother me, right? What a charmed life I lead.

09:09 Now, the only reason I was able to do that, partly was that I was just doing so much coaching at the time because I was in the middle of a group, so I was very aware of what my brain was doing, but also it's because I had this belief that I had this charmed life. So, my brain is constantly searching evidence about why that's true.

09:26 I could easily have pages and pages and pages of evidence of why my life is harder than it should be. I've had difficult pregnancy, I've had health crisis, I've had difficulty in my family growing up. All sorts of things. I'm not obviously going to go into all of it, but everyone could. Everyone could make pages of why their life is more difficult than it should be. For whatever reason, I don't think I can take credit for this, because I did this so long ago, before I started coaching, but somehow my brain landed on this idea that I have a charmed life, and so I'm always getting evidence for that as opposed to the alternative.

10:02 So, can you push your brain into a totally different self image? So, when you start to go onto your tailspin of I don't know how to do this marriage thing, or I'm not really that great, or I'm not like those other women, or whatever the negativity that you have about yourself is, if you can redirect yourself to I am fantastic, it's so, it must ... he's so lucky. He's married to me. And I love him, and I have all these skills, and look at me, I listen to podcasts about marriage so I'm like super tuned in and self aware, and like most women don't do that, so I'm amazing. Maybe you can start collecting evidence there, right? And just play with it. There's no thought police coming around and making sure everyone's thoughts are appropriate or correct. So just have fun.

10:52 And if you do it for a long time and you just really cannot believe it for a second, okay. We'll find one that's more of a baby step. Go back, find a thought that's more realistic to you. But I want to encourage you to take something, if there's somewhere where you feel like your self image is more negative, and you're struggling there and you're getting results in your life that aren't working for you, I want to encourage you to over-correct on the other side. Don't worry that you're going to turn into a totally self-absorbed brat. You're not. You're self-correcting. You're a little bit too far one way, we need to go a little extra the other way, and you're going to find yourself in a very health and happy medium.

11:28 So that's your homework for the week. I hope you take the challenge. I think we could all find an area where we need to over-correct towards the positive. I'd love to hear from you. You can always reach out at Instagram at first year married, and please come out if you have not checked lately, my free video at, you are missing out. What are you doing? You're listening to this podcast, but you could be getting all the real work. The tool, the model spelled out for you with worksheets and everything so that you know how to take this and run with it and really, really use this material. Got to do it, you've got to go., sign up, you're going to get the video, instant access, and I will see you over there.

12:06 Have a fantastic week. Bye bye.

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