We’ve all been there. We think we look great and then we see ourselves on camera and are shocked by how the opposite is true.  This happened to me last week.  My dear husband, who never takes photos (seriously, you would have thought he went on our honeymoon alone because I’m in just a handful of shots) used his upgraded phone to video record me as I spoke and gave an award away at an exhibit at The Fashion Industry of Technology.  Upon review of the video, I was appalled.  I criticized my outfit, my posture, the way I did my hair, the fact that the two navy shades I was wearing so obviously didn’t work together.  More so, I was appalled by how I allowed all these judgments on my outer appearance to minimize the importance of what I was doing and why I was at the event.

I know I’m not the only one whose confidence has been rattled by the simple glimpse of a photo.  If you have allowed seeing how you looked on camera torment you, here are some tips on how to deal with the moments when you didn’t look as good as you thought you did.

#1- Relax.  Well, maybe let yourself panic a bit, then relax

Panic is an interesting emotion.  It can take hold of us and create a bit of tunnel vision where the only thing we can see or think about is what is making us act this way.  Fighting panic is much like putting gasoline on a fire, it only exacerbates the emotions.

I’m not saying that the panicked feelings you experience when seeing yourself on camera should be encouraged, but I don’t want you to fight them either.  You’re having them, they are there, just breathe through them.  The feelings will pass and you’ll more quickly be on the other side of them if you can step outside of them, take a breath and observe them.  You’ll start to hear how ridiculous and catastrophic the thoughts sound.  You may hear your panicked self suggesting extreme things like giving up carbs for the rest of your life, taking a match to your wardrobe, or making an appointment tout suite to chop all your hair off.  Nobody makes rational choices when they are in panic mode.  Just breathe through them and let them cycle though.  You’ll get on the other side much faster if you allow yourself to become the observer of the thoughts.

#2- Nobody is looking at you.  They’re too concerned with their own appearance

Here is what I know, nobody cares as much about your appearance as you do.  Think about how all too consumed you can become about looking the right way.  Do you think there is another person on the planet who thinks this much about you?  Of course not.  All their energy is spent on what others think of them.

Next, have you ever completely judged someone based on the fact that their thighs are a little chunkier, their hair isn’t perfect or their ankles are thick?  The filter through which you choose to see yourself is a filter that completely exists in your head and nowhere else. Do you really think nobody will love you, appreciate you, want to be friends with you or respect you because you aren’t perfect?  Nobody judges you as harshly as your judge yourself.

#3- Stop the laser focus

When I look at myself on camera my focus goes right to my vulnerable points, like my thighs, how my large chest looks in the top I have chosen, my legs, and so on.  Rarely do I look at my body on the whole.  Having worked with clients, I know I am not the only one who does this.  All the time, clients will focus on how wide their thighs look in a pair of pants without looking at how the upper half of their body balances their lower half.

When you are viewed by others, they don’t look at your through the same “vulnerable spot” filter that you do.  They look at the total picture, if they even bother to notice that.  It’s important to remember how all-consumed we can all get with ourselves, not others.

#4- Maybe it is time to change things

If you can look at things objectively, without tossing yourself down the well of self-loathing, seeing yourself on camera can actually give you some direction on things you can change.  Maybe it is time to get healthier, maybe certain wardrobe choices aren’t working any longer, perhaps your hair doesn’t look as good as you thought it did.  I worked with a client once who lost a ton of weight simply because she saw a photo of herself at a Halloween party and couldn’t believe how large she had gotten.  There is nothing necessarily bad about making changes after being shocked by how you looked on camera, but you want to make sure these are changes you can make.

Understand there are some things that you can’t fix or change but you can learn to make the best of.  This is not just things like wishing your for blue eyes when you have brown ones.  Even things like the general shape of your body is likely an unrealistic change that is impossible to make any different.  Back when I was in high school, I remember my friend and I taking photos of ourselves at the beach.  It was the first time I noticed that I have heavy legs and pretty big thighs.  Even at the slim track-running size nothing that I was, I had to learn to accept that no amount of gym visits or crash diets was going to change my natural physique.  While there are moments that I wish this feature of my body was different, I have also learned it is fruitless to think I will ever have a tiny butt and skinny legs.  I’d be lying if I said that I’m always accepting of this fact, but I have learned that doing my best to be the healthiest and fittest shapely girl is a productive way of dealing with it.  In moments of self loathing, if I can realize that I am doing the best that I can, I have a much easier time being less critical of myself.

#5- You are your harshest critic

Nobody is as hard on your as your are on yourself.  It’s only natural to want to put your best foot forward, and there is certainly nothing wrong with this goal.  Yet, when this focus becomes warped to the point that you have snuffed out your self-expression, you have created unhealthy habits to try to fix what you see as wrong or have judged yourself as a person based solely on your appearance, it’s time to pull back and look at this behavior more closely.  It might not be a physical change you need, but an inner makeover that helps you realize you are so much more than the size of your thighs and deserve to treat yourself that way.