How to Recover from A Negative Body Image Mindset
This blog post is dedicated to everyone and anyone who has struggled with disordered eating and is a powerful read fow when you’re having a bad body image day, week or month.
Negative thoughts towards our-self can be debilitating, but we all deserve to be happy in the skin that we are in, and we can be.
These are your 10 steps to escape from a negative body image mindset and recover from a bad body image day.
Treat Yourself As You Would A Friend
It's very difficult to be kind to ourselves when we are living in a moment of body-hating thoughts. Respond to your thoughts as if you were supporting a friend. You certainly would not talk to a friend like you would yourself. So what would you say to someone you loved who was battling with your same struggle of body image? You would never tell a friend to not eat for a day in order to make up for last nights food choices. You would never tell someone to punish themselves through means of self-harm, over-exercising or abusive eating habits. You would never tell a friend that they are worthless because of their weight. So why do YOU tell yourself these things? Break this vicious cycle and start treating yourself like a friend - you deserve that kindness and love from everyone, including yourself.
Recognize that 'fat' is not a feeling
There are always underlying emotions that we attach to feeling fat. When this negative thought comes up, try to identify what you're feeling underneath the dissatisfaction with your body, because fat is not a feeling. Are you feeling lonely? Invisible? Ashamed? Anxious? Inadequate? Scared? Whatever the feeling may be, recognize that these thoughts are separate from your body as a whole.
Realize that you are so much more than the size of your body
How you look, does not define who you are or your worth as a human being.
You are so much more than a number on a scale. You are a living, breathing, feeling human being and you have inherent value. You are special, important and loved. You exist, and therefor you matter in this world. Your appearance is a much smaller part of who you are, and it certainly does not sanction enough power to discount the person you are inside. You aren't your body or your weight - you are your goals, dreams, passions and values. You are your strengths, talents and insights. You are a soul, a spirit and a force of nature. Your body does not define you.
Shift your focus from the external to internal
Take a moment and think of all the people that you look up to and are inspired by - not because of there weight or appearance, but because of who they are and what they do. Think deeply about all of their qualities that have made you appreciate and value them.
You can write this down and remind yourself that it is the internal things that define you- your dreams, passions, goals, morals, insights and character are what truly define who you are, and these are what draw people to us; not how we look.
You are no exception to this. Try making your own list of things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with appearance or body size. If you have a difficult time creating one, you can ask your friends and family to help you.
Think about what you want to be remembered for
I don't want people to remember me for what I looked like, what size jeans I wear, or what I weighed. I want to be remembered for the person I am. I want to be remembered as someone who brought positive change to the world. I want to be remembered as a loving friend, partner, and family member. I want to be remembered for my passions, creativity and strength. As someone who made a difference. What do you want your legacy to be? Chances are - it doesn't have anything to do with weight.
Instead of focusing on the size of your body, think about what your body allows you to do
The human body is an incredible force. When we get caught up in the number on the scale and the size of our clothes however, we forget just how incredibly lucky we are to be alive. We have a fully functioning body to engage in life with.
Stop hating your body for the way it looks and start acknowledging and appreciating your body for all that it allows you to do. Make a list of each activity and adventure your body helps you to participate and accomplish. If you want to be even more specific, list out each body part and list all of the things you wouldn't be able to do without it. Your body is strong, powerful, and beautiful - regardless of it's size. Choose to treat it with love, compassion and gratitude instead of hate and judgement.
Challenge your negative thoughts
You many not be able to change the way you feel about your body today, tomorrow, or a month from now, but you can begin the process by challenging the thoughts in the moment. Write out a dialogue between your negative voice and healthy voice. if you have a hard time coming up with positive counters to negative thoughts, pretend you are speaking positively about a loved one or friend. Even if you don't believe the things you say to counter the negative thoughts, it's still important to speak out against it, because each time you argue with your thoughts you are taking away from their power and reclaiming your own. The more you challenge your thoughts, the less you believe them. The more you argue back, the easier it will be for the fighting voice to come.
Allow yourself to feel your feelings
There is a lot of built up energy and emotion underlying the way we feel about our bodies. Holding on to how we feel or engaging in behaviours to numb out may feel better at the moment, but in the long run, it doesn't remedy the pain we feel. It doesn't make us feel better, it just leaves us feeling stuck. Releasing the energy and painful emotions underlying our body shame requires us to feel our feelings. Whether that means throwing a tantrum on the floor, venting to a friend on the phone, punching a pillow, screaming in your car or crying in your bed, you need to allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let go of the judgement about how you feel and recognize that you are feeling these things for a reason. Give yourself permission to release your emotions and let everything go.
Practice Self-Love & Self-Care
When you're struggling with body image, introduce healthy coping mechanisms. Take a bath with healing crystals and salts, get a massage, cuddle with a pet, make plans with a supportive friend, watch your favourite movie, listen to calming music, practice deep breathing - do whatever works for you, is self-soothing and helps you to get out of your head.
Be kind to yourself
You may not be able to control how you feel about your body, but you can control what you do in response to how you feel. Instead of beating yourself up, you can choose to treat yourself with compassion. Instead of engaging in unhealthy and abusive behaviours, you can choose to do self-care. Instead of treating your body like an enemy, you can choose to treat it as a friend. Instead of isolating yourself, you can choose to reach out for support and surround yourself with positive people who make you feel loved and accepted. Instead of arguing with negative thoughts, you can chose to challenge them.
Sometimes we just need somebody to talk to, allow yourself to seek the help you deserve, if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression or anything that is preventing you from feeling your best - please know that you have access to help that is both accessible and affordable, find a local professional in your area through BetterHelp. You deserve this.