"I'm so fat, I'm practically bulging out of this suit. I can't believe I've let myself go like this. I look like a slob. There's no way they're going to hire me for the job."
You don't need a psychologist to tell you that thoughts like those are very harmful when it comes to your self-esteem... and your job hunt.
You're smart and you know that, already.
But I'm here to remind you -- and hopefully, to help.
If you're feeling ashamed about your body, and it's holding you back from going after the opportunities that you want with full confidence, these words are for you.
And let me tell you -- I've been there, too. When I first started to appear as a TV commentator on a local station here in Hawaii, my role was to get interviewed by a drop-dead-gorgeous runner-up for the Miss America Pageant -- regularly, on live TV.
I'm an emotional health expert with 25 years of experience, but even I got temporarily rattled by that experience -- and had to work through it!
Moments of low self-esteem and shaky body image can happen to all of us, at any age, at any weight, for all kinds of reasons.
If it's happening to you, here are four things to remember -- and do:
1. Say: "It's OK to be unhappy with how I look."
You might be thinking, "What kind of advice is that?!" but bear with me.
If you're unhappy about how you look, honor those feelings, and use them as fuel -- fuel to make some adjustments to your lifestyle, and improve your health and appearance.
The key is to frame your "unhappiness" with loving, empowering language.
There's a big difference between saying:
"I hate myself... and I'm unhappy with how I look. There's no hope for me. I'm worthless."
"I love and respect myself... and currently, I'm unhappy with how I look. And because I love myself, I'm going to make some positive changes that will help me feel happier about my appearance."
2. Ask: "Do I want to change for myself, or for others?"
Sometimes, when you feel unhappy about your appearance, the origin of those feelings is pretty darn simple:
"I've gained 10 pounds and my clothes feel too tight."
End of story.
But other times, your feelings may have a deeper, more complex origin.
Take some time to reflect on why you feel the way you do, with these writing prompts:
I'm ashamed of how I look because _______________________________________.
I don't like how I look because _______________________________________.
I wish I looked different because _______________________________________.
You may discover, as many of my clients do, that a big part of you wants to change how you look to please others and gain their approval.
This is a dangerous loop, because no matter what you do -- or how "perfect" you look -- ultimately, you can't control what other people think of you. But you are in charge of how you feel about yourself.
So, if you do choose to change your lifestyle and appearance, make sure that you're doing it for the right person: YOU.
3. Remember: "I am more beautiful than I think."
If you haven't watched the Dove Real Beauty Sketches, take three minutes to watch this powerful video, which closes with the phrase: "You are more beautiful than you think."
Often, the way that other people perceive you ("warm, open, kind, generous, hilarious, curvaceous...") is very different from the way that you might perceive yourself ("fat, sarcastic, stupid, impatient, not that accomplished...")
Again -- at the end of the day, the only person's opinion that really matters is your own [see above!]. But it can be powerful to remember that, often, to your friends, family, and even to total strangers, you are far more beautiful than you realize.
4. Affirm: "I am already a success."
Regena Thomashauer -- known to millions as Mama Gena -- is a champion for women's empowerment, self-esteem and self-love. She often encourages women to create a "brag list" and read it aloud, in the company of good friends.
Your "brag list" might go:
I did an amazing job updating my resume. That's why I got booked for an in-person interview! Go me!
At my last job, I made a significant impact inside the company. That's why my former boss gave me such a glowing testimonial. Yay!
Since leaving my last job, I've had time to reorganize my closet, donate clothes that no longer fit to charity, spend quality time with loved ones, and see three of my favorite musicians perform live. I'm making the most of my free time, and living my life! I rock!
Make the biggest "brag list" that you possibly can, and read it again to yourself, a few moments before your next job interview.
If you're still feeling unsteady, take a few deep breaths, exhale and relax, and give yourself one more big dose of reassurance:
I've taken the time to tend to my appearance. I look professional and put-together -- like somebody who cares about this position. But ultimately, I am being hired for my skills, not my looks. I am highly qualified. I am already a success.
Enjoy your interview for what it is -- an inspiring conversation, not a body-evaluation -- and remember:
You are more than just a size, a weight, or a shape.
You are a whole human being -- more beautiful, more valuable, more competent and capable than you know.
As a psychologist and life coach, Dr. Suzanne Gelb's insights have been featured on more than 200 radio shows, 100 TV interviews and too many articles to keep score.
Step into her virtual office and discover how to change your life by changing the way you handle your own emotions.
And while you're visiting, if you're trying to lose weight and feel like your emotions are working against you -- learn how to get your mind on your side, and reach your ideal weight through kindness, not craziness. It's all inside my new Life Guide. Click to learn more.