Change Your Dream Focus to Find Empowered Self-esteem

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Iman is a photographer who, through her unique process of coaching and photography, can show a woman what other people see when they look at her. She is passionate about teaching other photographers how to live and be a professional and making change in the world. She dreams of changing the way women look at their bodies and how the world defines beauty. She also thinks being an instructor on CreativeLIVE would be incredible. Iman battles Lyme disease and shares her unique view of dreaming while fighting for her health. Her post day is Wednesday. Iman Woods If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

At night, when I can’t fall asleep, I dream of a world without insecurities.

The common ways people mistreat themselves and others is often based on feeling inadequate. The biggest problem I see with my clients and friends is they’re quite good at picking themselves apart. But they’re terrible at giving themselves credit for the good they bring to the world. I don’t know a single person who is NOT guilty of this negative pattern at some point in their lives. The greatest way to invest in yourself and be a powerful role model is to work on having empowered self-esteem.

Everything inside radiates outward. Empowered self-esteem starts INSIDE.

It doesn’t start when you have the perfect body.

It’s the inner beauty concept on steroids. If you’re familiar with The Secret and the law of attraction, this will makes sense to you. If you’re not yet familiar, think of the saying, “Don’t borrow trouble.” This includes trying to predict the future so you feel like a failure before you start. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. If you’re just beginning your journey to empowered self-esteem, don’t look at perfect bodies on Pinterest and shame yourself.

As an example of changing your focus from negative to positive, I’m going to post a picture of myself from a recent shoot.

Empowered Self-Esteem is looking for what is RIGHT rather than what is wrong

Empowered Self-Esteem is looking for what is RIGHT rather than what is wrong

My favorite part of this, is the way I’m laughing.

My assistant, Nikki took the shot while she and two close friends teased by pretending to sound like me directing a shoot. It made me laugh to hear my directives coming from them. They’re also three of my favorite people, so it was easy to let my guard down and laugh from a place deep in my heart.

When looking at the photo, I have to resist the urge to criticize how far I still have to go to get my body to a place where I’ll be happy with it. That kind of thinking is completely un-empowered self-esteem. I’ve done a few meditations to make me grateful for my weight loss to date, even if I still have work ahead of me.

Exercise: Imagine you’re heavier than you are. Every day you struggle with feeling beautiful and think, ‘If only I lost 5, 10, 30 pounds, I would be happy with myself.’ Imagine you went to sleep with those thoughts and woke up with magical weight loss. You lost the desired weight over night! Would you be happy? Be honest! Would you be a better mother? A better daughter?  A better friend? Better at your job? Oh, you’d be happy. But it wouldn’t be long before you’d set a new benchmark and criticized yourself for not being there.
Think of the times you did lose the weight or got the job you wanted, or the house you dreamed of. Were you permanently happy or did the joy fade to be replaced with a new requirement to happiness?

This is what we do, this is our societal pattern of not being good enough.

Our self-esteem is often based on the DREAMS we have of the perfect body, perfect partner, perfect life. But, speaking from experience: having a partner, a large beautifully decorated house, the child you dreamed of, or massive weight loss does not make you happy.

Practicing happiness in the small moments, with gratitude for your life and your loved one’s lives is what makes you happy.

Life is beautifully IMPERFECT. Think of all your lovely memories that came from an accidental meeting. You can’t predict happiness any better than you can predict who you will meet over the next five years. The key to having empowered self-esteem is to give thanks for the blessings of your life. Your body’s ability to breathe in oxygen and send blood through your veins is a miracle every moment that you are alive.

Seeking what’s RIGHT with your body, will lead you to happiness.

Seeking what’s RIGHT in your world will bring you peace. Comparison always finds one side lacking.

Back to my photo and what is perfect about it. I may not have the body of my 16 year old self, but I have curves I’m proud to have worked hard for. I love my smile and laughter. My hairline has changed but I still have long thick hair. And I’m so grateful for a moment of fun and happiness.

Negative thoughts are damaging and don’t give credence to the work my body and I have done to bring me to type this blog post to you. It’s dis-empowering to my son. If you are ashamed of the changes pregnancy wrought to your body, you’re denying that your children are perfect miracles. Miracles don’t come from perfection… they come from pain and change. That’s what makes them so immeasurably valuable.

When I look at this photo, I am reminded of the love of the three people standing near me, the love of my family, and the love I have given myself to get healthy.

My dream is for you to find beauty in yourself no matter where you are in your life’s journey.


  • I’m Inspired by this post! Thank You Iman.

    • ImanWoods

      Thank you, Sue.

  • Catherine

    WOW.  That’s all I can say.

    • ImanWoods

      Thank you, Catherine.

  • You rock these posts!

  • That inner monologue will get you every time. Turning it off, or better yet reprogramming it for good is a long process but you know it can be done! Love that shot of you sweets – so fun!


    • ImanWoods

      Heather, thank you!