You might have heard this one before too but it is such an important practice. We are constantly looking to better ourselves and a lot of the times the goals we set come out of a scarcity mindset — I don’t have money so I want to make more money this year. I don’t have love — so I want to find a partner this year. It is important to stop and see all that we DO have in our lives. Maybe you don’t feel like you love yourself right now but you can be grateful that you are aware of this. Grab a piece of paper right now and write down 10 things you are grateful for — don’t overthink it just write it down. Read it over and really feel how blessed you are — then write 10 more things. Do this daily and you’ll train your mind to start looking for more and more things to be grateful for each day. Using a tool like The Five Minute Journal can help remind you.
As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Keidi Janz. Keidi is a speaker, self-love coach, and body positivity photographer. She works with women to guide them on their road to self-discovery so they can learn to fully love themselves. Her self love sessions combine coaching and body-positive photography to represent women with photos of their authentic selves. Keidi often speaks on our connection to spirituality and intuition as the epitome of self-love. After running a photography business for the last 10 years in Canada and the US, Keidi decided to shift her focus to empowering women to live authentically and connected lives. Keidi has been featured and quoted in outlets such as Business Insider and Brit + Co.
Thank you so much for joining us Keidi! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
One of my most proud roles has been being a Big Sister — having two younger sisters I took on the role of being their biggest cheerleader and motivator. In a way this has been the biggest thread throughout my life. Back in 2017, I was faced with some severe health conditions that left me and my doctors stunned and without a substantial health diagnosis or much explanation. It did not make much sense to them but it made a lot of sense to me — my body was taking matters into its own hands to help me stop and take a good look at my life. I was SO unhappy. So much so in fact that I had not even considered that I should even want a happy life. I felt so stuck in a job that paid the bills really well but did not give me any sense of fulfillment, I had no real goals to strive for and every day just felt like another day in the hamster wheel.
This was so hard for others to see because on the outside I appeared really happy. But as I know now it’s our internal world that really matters and the one that can bring us to the life that we want to be living.
I had studied social work and had been introduced to the self-development world but I never fully gave it a real chance or adapted much of the techniques I saw working for other people.
I am now thankful I took the opportunity and fully dedicated myself to becoming my own best friend. I studied and read any book that promised results, in fact, I read over 50 books, most of them under the self-development category in just one year. I got a coach, I got a therapist, I started journaling. And maybe most importantly out of these, I started being vulnerable and sharing my journey online. Very quickly and much to my surprise, I found a lot of other people who were searching and needing ways to love themselves.
As a photographer I often had my clients open up deeply about their own struggles with their appearance, weight and overall body image. It is a real intimate exchange to allow a photographer to truly capture you in your essence. These deep conversations really opened up the doors to help me see how I could help others to get to this place of building a friendship with their own selves instead of being their own biggest critics. A lot of my work is based on teaching others how to connect to their intuition and approach their lives with a deeper sense of connection. This is how I was lead to connect to my purpose too.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
I currently offer Self Love Sessions which include self-love coaching sessions — where we dig deep and openly discuss my clients’ relationships with themselves. A lot of the times this is the first time they are even looking at this as a relationship and examining how they speak to themselves, their thoughts and their patterns. This is the work on getting vulnerable and taking back the responsibility of a deeper loving relationship with ourselves. These sessions also include our relationship with our bodies. Because I work with women this is a particularly big topic on the influence of society, upbringing and overall media influence. Once my clients have graduated through this program we plan and schedule an epic photoshoot as a celebration of the love and appreciation of self. Often our sessions are outdoors in nature and a true reflection of the internal and external beauty.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?
I remember clearly during a conversation with one of my coaches where I felt defeated. I felt that I was doing so much work on loving myself and yet there was always just one more thing coming to the surface, one more repeated pattern or one more case of self-sabotage. I used to think there would be this magical day where I would have worked through everything and life would be just perfect. The thing with self-love and any type of improvement we want to make in our lives is that it’s a journey. There are always ups and downs and new levels of work to be done. But every time we choose to love ourselves a little more or a little longer it benefits us and the world just that much more.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
Appearances or particularly how we feel about our appearance plays a significant role in how we show up in our lives. Including how confident we are to pursue our dreams, apply for that job, make friends, build relationships and everything in between. Our society has built up some unrealistic image ideals whether it is through magazines or the newest Snapchat filter. The educational piece that is always missing is that there are billion-dollar industries that profit from us being dissatisfied with our appearances.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
All love stems from self-love. The love to live the life that we want — in finding out what we love we must first love ourselves otherwise we are always in a chase for something or someone outside of us to complete us. In truth, there is nothing outside of us that will ever bring us the love that we do not give to ourselves.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
There is no such thing as mediocre relationships in the meaning that it has taken. I believe mediocre relationships are developed when we are only putting about 50% each in the relationship. Instead of 100% in — there is no measure of how much I give to the equal amount of taking. Just like the relationship with your self if you are not willing to go 100% in then ask yourself if this is the right time. It can feel easy to put the blame on the other person for the mediocre relationship but we are only in charge of our own selves.
When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
A reflection exercise I often use for myself and my clients is to examine a current situation or struggle and ask “How am I at cause for this?”. This is often a hard question because when we are hurt the easiest thing to do is put the blame on something or someone else. Yes, it is difficult to bring this back to yourself and take accountability. But what comes along with it is taking responsibility for our own actions and taking back our power — knowing that we are the only ones who can make the changes we want to see in our own lives.
So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
One of the hardest things for me in learning to be with myself was to really allow myself to experience my emotions instead of pushing them away. It can feel so challenging to allow ourselves to feel bad, to accept failure and to accept that we are human and make mistakes like everyone else. There is so much beauty in our imperfections. In order to build this practice, we must allocate time to take ourselves out to dinner, take up a hobby that does not involve anyone else or simply set aside time for journaling and reflection. It takes time and practice but it’s important to build these foundations for our relationship with self.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
Very often my clients start to notice that their relationships change after they have been doing some work on their self-love. It’s natural, oftentimes we have hidden so many aspects of our true selves. The people that you were once connected to might have not even gotten a chance to know the real you. This also opens up the door for deeper relationships. When we truly get to know ourselves we are more open and encouraging to allow others to be themselves too.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
In my experience, the biggest shifts for me occurred when I allowed myself to be more vulnerable. Especially in settings where it felt the most uncomfortable too — like networking. I’ve found that a lot of us put on a “mask” when we are feeling uncomfortable and try to say and do the right things. Some of the best personal and business connections I’ve made have started with a simple “I’m a little nervous to be here”. When we open up with a small vulnerability it allows others to see us as human and therefore opens up the opportunity for them to do the same.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
I have implemented some strategies that I know work for me. I’ve tried many and in fact, I encourage you to do the same — see if you enjoy walks to the park by yourself, maybe going to an art exhibit — try some new activities or revisit somethings you used to enjoy doing but don’t really have the time to anymore.
Meditation or Silence.
I used to always say I would love to start meditating one day. It wasn’t until I was dealing with high levels of anxiety and I did not know how to stop the constant beehive of thoughts in my head that I felt I had to.
Building a meditation practice or trying anything new can feel challenging. I recommend that you stop and forget about what you think meditation should be or the perfect place to meditate or how to do it at all. I started with laying in my bed and playing a guided meditation — there are plenty on YouTube and other apps. Just pick one that sounds good to you and start.
You might have heard this one before too but it is such an important practice. We are constantly looking to better ourselves and a lot of the times the goals we set come out of a scarcity mindset — I don’t have money so I want to make more money this year. I don’t have love — so I want to find a partner this year.
It is important to stop and see all that we DO have in our lives. Maybe you don’t feel like you love yourself right now but you can be grateful that you are aware of this. Grab a piece of paper right now and write down 10 things you are grateful for — don’t overthink it just write it down. Read it over and really feel how blessed you are — then write 10 more things. Do this daily and you’ll train your mind to start looking for more and more things to be grateful for each day. Using a tool like The Five Minute Journal can help remind you.
Start dating yourself
Start finding out what you really like to do. What is your favorite color? What are things you like to do for you that do not benefit anyone else but you? What did you use to love doing as a kid?
Spend time daily building this relationship with yourself. I remember the first time I took myself out to dinner and said I would not use my phone and simply enjoy my own company. It felt like such a scary experience to sit in a restaurant by yourself but just like everything else you get better with practice.
Understand your thoughts
When we are constantly on the go — off to the next meeting, next event, next activity we don’t really stop to pay attention to our thoughts. In fact, 95% of our thoughts are repetitive. That means we are repeating thoughts that we might have thought over 10 years ago that is no longer true for you today.
I recommend writing down some headings like love, money, friendships, career, family, etc. and writing down any thoughts that come up. Don’t try to edit yourself just free-write everything down. You might find some thoughts that have been with you since childhood.
What if I told you that it’s actually so easy to be a pessimist? It is so easy to choose a negative thought or say something negative about a situation or a person. Start seeing the opportunities on where you could be positive. Pay attention and try to catch yourself before you share something negative. Choose not to participate in gossip or any negativity talk for a week and see how much happier you will feel.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
I love Jen Sincero’s “You are a badass” book series and often recommend them as a first step into self-discovery for our world today. Sincero’s approach is light and simple and I think she does a great job at keeping her writing relatable. I laughed out loud on her audiobook versions. I also recommend The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer if you are looking to better understand how our mind and thoughts worked. I loved learning that our brain is repeating and often speaks from a narrative tone. Noticing these patterns in our minds helps us come back to the moment to really experience it as it is happening. The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks really explores how our careers and relationships are affected when we are performing better in one area than the other.
My favorite podcasts include Oprah’s Super soul — in general, I like to consume my content via audio and prefer these over the video versions on OWN TV. I love this podcast in getting inspired and the autobiographies of her guests, the questions are always so thoughtful and I feel that I really get a glimpse at the guests and their mind and hearts this way.
NPR How I Built this — This podcast again is another way of getting to know the real people behind the brands we know and love. It’s an insider view of what actually went on behind the scenes, the work that was put it and most importantly learning about the failures. I feel the repeated message here is that there is no straight line to success and I think this serves as a reminder to our own journeys and that they are meant to have dips and highs.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
I love this question and I will simply say a movement of self-love. Of truly investing our time and efforts into loving ourselves more. The areas of improvement may look different for everyone but the start is with the intention that we want to build a better relationship with ourselves.
A movement to be our own best friends.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
“You are whole and complete all by yourself” I use this to guide me back to myself. To remind me that there is nothing external that I can pursue that will complete me. What I choose to pursue and bring into my life can only add to the love and fulfillment I already feel internally. Taking a deep breath and recognizing this forces me to pause before my mind gets into a frenzy of doing all the things.
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!