11 Ways to Learn to Love Your Body to Transform Your Body Image
1. Don't Compare.
When we compare ourselves to others we always lose. The realities of our looks and theirs don't even matter. When we look at others, we see how perfect they are. When we look at ourselves, we see how imperfect we are. We feel we can never measure up, no matter what. Society makes matters worse by worshipping an elusive fantasy body that only a few women on earth could ever naturally attain. By avoiding comparisons to others, we save ourselves lots of grief and can work toward making the body God gave us the best it can be.
2. Focus on Your Accomplishments.
Instead of nit-picking your body, try focusing on your positive traits. Are you loving, kind, and considerate? Do you visit your grandmother regularly? Do you get good grades? Are you a wonderful mother or spouse? Are you known for the fun parties you throw? Can you draw? We all have talents and attributes that make us wonderful human beings. So what if your thighs aren't pencil thin? You make a difference in the world, and that's what really matters!
3. Learn to Take a Compliment.
Many of us dream of the perfect look. We want to be beautiful, to have others stop and notice us. Yet, when someone gives us a compliment such as, "You look great in that dress," we say something like, "This old thing!" The very thing we are looking for—recognition—we brush off. Practice saying "thank you" when someone gives you a compliment. Don't over analyze it, or judge the giver, or make light of it; instead let it soak in and allow yourself to feel really good.
Listen to the chatter that goes on in your head. Are you saying nice things to yourself? Are you being complimentary of your body? Are you using words of encouragement? Chances are you answered "No" to these questions. Many of us go around with a negative tape recorder playing in our head all day. When we stop and listen, we hear things like "Why did you do that? You are so stupid!"; or "I can't believe you actually said that; it sounded so dumb!" Replace these negative thoughts with praise, such as, "What a good idea; that was a good way of handling the situation"; or "That was a real accomplishment; I'm so proud!" By shifting from words of criticism to words of praise, you begin to change your life.
Along with self-talk, giving yourself positive affirmations is a powerful way to change the way you feel about your body. Find a part of your body that you like and accept, even if it's your eyes, hair or smile. Write an affirmation about it. For instance, "I love the way my hair shines," or "I love the way my eyes sparkle." Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and repeat your affirmations to yourself. Say them with enthusiasm. Believe it! Even if you have to "fake it till you make it." After a few weeks of doing this, you will come to believe and know that what you are saying is true. Then move on to another body part. Even though giving yourself compliments may become progressively more difficult, continue through until you LOVE YOUR BODY!
6. Learn to Compliment Others.
In learning to compliment others, you learn the law of reciprocity. As you give, you do receive. By learning to acknowledge the good in others, you can learn to notice the good in yourself. Remember, to be loved, give love. To be accepting of your body, be accepting of others' bodies.
7. Focus on the Positives.
Hating the body can become a bad habit. All our negative feelings are instantly transferred to the body. Instead of dealing with the problems that create the negative feelings, we just shove those feelings deep inside our body and end up hating it more and more. Learning to focus on the positives gives you a whole different perspective. It allows you to see the world half-full instead of half-empty. Focus on the good in your life. Admire the beauty of a sunset, walk along the water, stop and smell the roses. Begin to focus on your body. See the good in it. It gets you where you are going. It is a faithful companion. By focusing on the positive we begin to heal our negative body image.
8. Stop Fantasy Thinking.
Do you ever hear yourself saying, "If I'd just lose 10 pounds I'd be happy," or "If I had thinner thighs I'd be asked out more."? Stop those thoughts now! That is fantasy thinking. The truth is that there is room for all shapes and sizes in this world. People are attracted to others for a variety of reasons. Yes, sometimes attraction has to do with body, but that might be a smile or overall appearance. Others are attracted to another based on the energy they give off or their laugh or because they are funny. Your body is not the reason you are miserable. You were miserable first and took it out on your body. Get on with your life. Be loving, and you will attract loving people.
9. Heal Your Relationship with Food.
If you are afraid of food, you will always be afraid of what it might do to your body. Will you become huge? Will you start eating and never stop? Will you go hungry? Be Stuffed? Explode? To heal your relationship with food, start by selecting a food to eat which is slightly out of your safe zone. One that is only a bit challenging. Sit in a quiet room and take a few deep breaths. Now eat that food. Stop any negative thoughts that enter your mind. Replace those thoughts with positive ones. Say your affirmations. Learn to enjoy the taste of food.
10. Body Movement
The body was designed to move. To walk or run or jump or dance are normal activities. By reconnecting yourself to your body, you might be amazed at how incredible it really is. Yoga is a great way to reconnect with your body. It is a noncompetitive, gentle stretching program that will relax you and make your body feel wonderful. If you do not want a structured program and hate the gym, go for a walk. A walk in nature is especially comforting, and nature is nonjudgmental. Experience how your body feels on your walks. Be aware of your breathing. Do not force yourself to exercise; allow yourself the opportunity to move.
The struggle to heal your negative body-image is an ongoing battle. It is often wise to seek the professional help of a therapist and a dietitian. There are self-help groups available at no charge as well. Many books and articles have been written on the subjects of food and body. There are seminars available as well as church and temple groups. Talk to a trusted friend or relative. All of us need support. We are constantly barraged with messages about the fantasy body. We are given negative messages about food and weight. It is extremely hard in our culture to have a healthy, positive body-image. You need support. You deserve it!