Finding Yourself: Beating Negative Body Image
When you possess a negative body image, you become a prisoner of your own mind. How you perceive yourself determines how you behave and interact with others. If you feel confident in your body and appearance, you are more likely to take on new opportunities and meet new people.
But you can learn how to beat back against negative body image and become more self-confident in the process.
How to beat a negative body image.We often tie body image with self-worth and confidence. When we do not feel good about how our bodies look, our self-worth and confidence dive. You may no longer see yourself as attractive or worthy of love and friendship. You may believe that others are embarrassed to be seen with you.
This is a negative perception. It is how we perceive ourselves when we look in the mirror, and it is a false belief. But overcoming this false belief is challenging. You will need to work on your mindset and find healthy ways to boost your confidence and positive body image.
The following are several tips to increase self-confidence and turn that negative body image into a positive one.
Watch your thoughts.
Your thoughts frame your emotions and result in your behaviors. When those thought patterns are negative, you can feel anxious, depressed, and scared. You may isolate yourself from others, sit in the back of a room, speak to very few people, and be reluctant to start anything new (like a relationship or business venture).
Although your thoughts can come on quickly, you can control them. Learn how to identify and analyze negative thoughts that leave you feeling bad. Ask yourself, “Where did that thought come from?” Now reframe the thought so that the resulting emotion is a better one.
For example, if you think, “I can’t go to the party tonight. Everyone will see how out of shape I am,” and begin to feel depressed and anxious, turn the thought around. Perhaps commit to wearing a fantastic outfit that makes you feel good about yourself and be thankful that your health permits you to attend a party.
Next, ask yourself why you are excited about going to the party. Will there be a band or people you have missed seeing? Turn those emotions from depressed to excited and hopeful. Instead of hiding in your room, dance the night away.
You can reframe any negative thoughts and change the way you feel about yourself and a situation. Start slow, catch a negative thought and write down how you will handle that in the future.
List the attributes of your body that you love.Instead of focusing on something you dislike, list your body’s attributes and how it serves you. What does your body do for you? After the pandemic, you are blessed to have health. For example, you could list the ability to breathe, walk, dance, and run.
Are there specific body parts you appreciate more than others? Focus on those. If you look in the mirror and only obsess about the size of your thighs, try to refocus on another body part. Maybe you like the color of your eyes and play that up. Or, perhaps, you have strong and defined arms.
Make your list of attributes and add more items to your list as you continue to raise the positivity surrounding your body image.
Be healthy, not obsessive.
Poor body image is not always about weight, whether overweight or underweight. It can be about daily hygiene habits, loss of hair, or body shape, to name a few. If the issue behind your negative body image is fixable and will boost your confidence, then take a healthy approach.
For example, if you never smile because you feel self-conscious due to problems with your teeth and believe that having them “fixed” will make a difference in how you carry yourself, then seek the help of a dentist or orthodontist to whiten and straighten your teeth.
Ditch the obsessive mentality. If you believe losing or gaining weight will raise your confidence, seek a professional’s opinion and get wise counsel on how to go about it in a healthy way. Sometimes, what we see in the mirror is a distorted perception of reality. You may not be overweight but at a healthy weight. Or, you may not be as underweight as you believe. Always seek help from an unbiased and trained specialist in this area before moving forward.
Find a new circle.You become like the people you surround yourself with daily. Are those people constantly comparing themselves to others? Are they negative? Do they point out your flaws? Are you in toxic relationships? Your relationships and friendships directly correlate to how you feel about yourself.
If you have a great support system, maintain those relationships. If your circle is far from supportive, it may be a great time to start looking elsewhere. You may find a group you identify with at church or online. Some counseling centers offer group therapy for specific health conditions. You may want to consider joining one of those if you struggle with negative body image, depression, or eating disorders.
Limit social media use.
You do not have to cancel or uninstall a social media platform trying to push a particular beauty ideal. However, for your mental health, consider cutting back on the amount of time you spend scrolling through images.
Social media is a great technology, but it can plant seeds of discontentment and encourage comparison, neither of which will help with your body image. Curate your newsfeed for things and people that inspire positive body image and confidence. Follow those people who exhibit self-confidence. Remember, though, that social media often uses edited and filtered images. What you see is not always what is real.
Serve others and focus elsewhere.
Negative body image and discontentment can lead to depression and other mental health conditions. Instead, shift your focus from outside of yourself to others. Is there a place where you can serve your local community? What about at a church or local charity? Is there an international organization where you could volunteer your time?
When we focus on ourselves, we are bound to see the negatives. When we focus on others and lead with love and kindness, eventually, that trickles back down to us. You actually begin to feel love, compassion, and confidence when you serve others.
Self-acceptance is beautiful.
You draw people to you when you feel confident and walk with your chin raised, embracing self-acceptance. People cannot help but look. Self-acceptance is beautiful. It changes how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. You are more approachable.
When you are confident in who you are and how you look, it shows in your attitude and behavior. You are less likely to be irritable and snap at others. You are happier and may have an easier time letting negative things roll off you.
When you are secure in your appearance, you do not have any issues handing out compliments to others. Even something as scary as public speaking is a little easier when you have a positive body image, as this is one less thing to think about when you take the stage.
When a negative body image makes life difficult.
Negative body image can take on a life of its own. Obsessive thoughts and harmful behaviors over a negative body image can lead to body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression.
If you have placed your life on hold due to body image issues or engaging in worrisome behaviors to get to or maintain a body ideal, contact our office today. We have Christian counselors who specialize in body image issues. We want to see you thrive and live a life of peace. That is possible by accepting where you are now and keeping in mind that you are made in God’s image and likeness…and He does not make mistakes.
“Woman in the Mirror”, Courtesy of Milada Vigerova, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Measuring Tape”, Courtesy of Jennifer Burk, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “All Together”, Courtesy of Hannah Busing, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Laying on the Grass”, Courtesy of Kajetan Sumila, Unsplash.com, CC0 License