Pills to control hunger, ads for facial injections, songs about the size of body parts, spray tans, hair extensions, padded bras…What do all of these have in common?
They’re messages that you hear several times a day, telling you that you are not good enough as you are. That you need to be improved and enhanced. That you just don’t measure up.
Hearing these messages enough times can lead you to become self-conscious, or worse..it could lead to a poor body image.
The definition of body image is simply how you view your body. This is a completely subjective view, and it’s prone to being easily swayed by your thoughts.
How do you protect yourself against dissatisfaction with what you see in the mirror?
Here are 4 tried and true methods of creating a positive body image.
When it comes to feeling whole and supported, the media doesn’t do you any favours. We are constantly bombarded with images of perfect bodies. From the ads that pop up on the web, to the magazines at the check-out line, it is impossible to ignore the images of unattainable perfection.
The dramatic repetition of these images over time can cause you to compare yourself to them – only to leave you feeling less than perfect.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and it also the thief of a positive body image.
Unplugging from the media as often as your life allows will lessen these moments of comparison, and in turn can encourage you to focus more on the things in life that matter – things that are real.
2. Observe Your Thoughts
Since body image is ultimately the way you perceive your body to look, becoming highly aware of your perceptions will help you discover your negative thought patterns and the tone of your inner voice.
Observe in a day how many times you say to yourself, “I’m too fat,” or, “I would do that if only I looked like her.” This can be a very powerful exercise! Most people are unaware of how they speak to themselves, and when they discover how repetitive these voices are, it can be shocking.
Notice your thoughts. Be kind to yourself.
3. Let the Conditions Go
Have you ever dreamed of your life being perfect when you get the body that you want?
What this means is that we are putting off being happy until some unknown time in the future. We won’t allow ourselves love until we are something that we currently are not – that somehow we are better if you get down to that specific number on the scale, or until we fit into a coveted pair of skinny jeans.
Not only is this thinking coming from a place of self-rejection, it can lead you to a life of constant dissatisfaction and always chasing an unattainable goal – not to mention poor body image.
What’s more, this frame of mind is no way to live your life. Hating yourself into getting the body you want is not only a waste of your precious time on Earth, it guarantees you absolutely nothing when you have reached that goal.
I can guarantee you – if you lose weight by beating yourself up to get there, the fight is not going to automatically stop once you reach your goal; in fact, most people have to fight harder just to stay there.
How do you start going about loving yourself when you don’t really like your body?
First, you need to realise that your body is just the outlet for something deeper. From a Mind-Body nutrition standpoint, we need to get to the root cause of why we are unhappy with ourselves.
For example, if you want to lose weight because you want more energy, look at the places in life that are dragging you down. Or, if you want tight abs so you can show them off and be noticed, what can you do right now to be recognised?
Embodiment is at the forefront of a healing body image. The act of truly inhabiting one’s body is very powerful. Think about how often you are not rooted in your body, when you are checked out, distracted by your phone, or perhaps dreaming about being inside a different body.
Embodiment means to feel how it feels to be in your body.
It is so helpful in healing body image because when we aren’t embodied we tend to overeat or binge eat, talk to ourselves in an unkind way, become lazy, or overexercise. When we check in with our bodies, we listen to what we truly need. And most likely it’s not that extra helping of food, or that mean remark, or even running that extra kilometre.
Some of the best techniques to embody your body are slowing down, moving your body in a way that brings you joy whether it be walking, dancing, swimming, etc., deep conscious breathing, allowing yourself to feel pleasure, and listening to the innate body wisdom you were born with.
So these four strategies: unplugging; observing your thoughts; letting the conditions go and embodiment are some of the most powerful techniques for creating a positive body image.
Healing body image is not something that happens overnight. It is a practice. And this practice can lead us to taking care of ourselves on a deeper level, which will ultimately lead to a happier life.