Are you struggling with body dissatisfaction? Experiencing constant critical thoughts? Do you wish you felt more positive about your appearance? If any of the above sounds familiar, you’re not alone and help is here! Body-image seeds are planted early on in life, and it’s likely that you weren’t the one planting them.
Planting Seeds Early On
The way you view yourself is often influenced by factors outside of your control. An eleven-year-old girl notices that her mom is overly focused on dieting; she often hears her mom’s dissatisfaction with her own looks. Although mom tries her best to build up her daughter’s confidence, by complimenting her appearance, she undermines this by modelling the opposite (by voicing self-criticalness). A 13-year-old boy is teased for his skinny frame. As a result, he fixates on this perceived flaw and compares himself to bigger and more muscular peers.
There’s a saying, “The way we speak to our children, becomes their inner voice.”
To expand on this, children also learn by observing their surroundings. Kids can see and understand more than you think! Be careful how you treat others and also how you treat yourself, as children learn by observing.
Body image isn’t what your body actually looks like, but it’s what you see when you look in the mirror. When you have a poor body image, your overarching view of your looks is negative. Perceptions can become distorted and inaccurate. It’s never too late to develop your body-confidence and to make a change.
8 Tips To Strengthen Body-Confidence
Ask yourself, “How is my current body image holding me back?” Look deep within and be honest. If you were to continue viewing your appearance in this negative light, what are the consequences? If you felt more satisfied with your body, what would you do more or less of? How might your world open up?
Be Real About Past Hurts.
Become aware of what helped shape your body-image today. There could’ve been a variety of external factors such as: experiences in your family, comments received, societal expectations etc. It’s important to acknowledge that diet culture is widespread, and to be able to reject societal expectations as needed, including unrealistic standards of beauty.
Define Your Self-Worth Outside of Physical Beauty.
Self-worth can be defined as: “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person.” When self-worth is attached to your appearance, you’re bound to have a wavering self-image. So if your body does NOT define you, what does? Humans are complex and there are numerous aspects that make up a whole person.
Focus on your inner qualities. How would you describe your personality, interests, likes/dislikes- which roles do you fulfill and find meaning in? Recognize all of your unique characteristics (aside from your appearance) that make you the special person you are.
Catch Negative Thinking + Create Positive Affirmations.
The mind naturally sticks to negative thoughts, and your thoughts can have a big impact on your feelings and behaviors. Become aware of thoughts & opinions about your body. Begin to challenge self-critical thoughts and don’t believe every thought you have.
Create new positive affirmations, uplifting self-statements, which remind you of your body confidence goals, such as: “I’m learning to accept my body,” or “I am much more than my appearance.” Rehearse affirmations regularly (first thing in the morning, when looking in the mirror, before bed etc). It may feel awkward at first to say nice things to yourself; remember, it takes time and practice for you to begin to believe new positive thoughts.
Focus on Health Versus Physical Change.
When the focus is on weight loss or on other desired physical changes, it often leaves you feeling stuck. Yet, when you shift the focus to the underlying value of being healthy, it can increase your motivation to practice healthier habits (such as increasing exercise, practising healthier eating). Keep in mind, “healthy” looks different on everyone.
Body Positive Self-Care Rituals.
Begin to engage in more pleasurable experiences with your body. Immerse all of your senses. Savior a yummy meal, enjoy a steamy bubble bath, have a good laugh, treat yourself to a massage, take a leisurely mindful walk in nature… appreciate and celebrate the gift that is your body.
When you’re busy zooming in on the negatives, it’s easy to filter out positive data. Shift your attention to what you like about your appearance? Every body part counts! There’s nothing vain about recognizing the parts of you that you feel good about. Too often we attend to aspects that we dislike. Take time to appreciate each and every desirable attribute.
Journey Towards Acceptance.
When it comes to your body, the only opinion that really matters is yours. Let go of anyone else’s opinion of beauty. Learn to embrace your natural shape, size, flaws and all! Don’t get stuck in the trap of comparisons, as it only leads to negativity. One way to loosen negative thinking is to turn your attention towards gratitude.
Find peace and healing in acceptance of what is. Beginning to accept your body, just as it is, does not mean that you’re giving up or that you’re totally okay with every part of it. Instead, you’re surrendering to reality and to the one and only body you were gifted. It’s yours to keep. Cherish it.