10 Tips to Say Goodbye to a Bad Body Image

  1. Use it, don’t think about it. Our bodies are gifts.  Partake of all the marvelous things we can do with our bodies—run, jump, skip, dance, leap, walk, swim, cartwheel, sing…you name it.  How much more fun it is to use our bodies, than it is to think about our bodies.  How much more energizing it is to engage with our bodies, instead of draining away our life force with petty obsessing over the slope of our stomach, the size of our breasts, the shape of our arms, and…you get the picture.
  2. Know the why of why you use it. Unfortunately, just getting out there and using our bodies is not the magic bullet.  Why?—because too often we are “using it” for the wrong reasons.  We’re working out just to be thin, thinner, thinnest.  As with so much in life, intention is the crux.  If we bring a sense of unworthiness to our workout, if it’s just about looking good in that new sweater dress, we will never be satisfied. If instead we bring an intention to be healthy, in body, mind and spirit, we are ripe for happiness.  The bonus—we will feel better about our bodies.
  3. Stop talking about your body.   Boring.  No one really wants to listen to you enumerate your flaws.  Think about it.  Really, do you like to listen to other people criticize how they look?  No.  Not to mention that such talk just reinforces those negative neural pathways in our brains.
  4. Stop talking about other women’s bodies. Double yawn, but worse, not nice.  I’m not saying we ought to be nice girls all the time—there’s a time and place for not-niceness (ask for that raise!).  What I’m talking about is the golden rule at work.  We don’t feel good about ourselves, when we think that other women are sizing us up and finding us wanting.  And why do we think other women are doing so?  Because we’re doing it right back at them.  End the talk. It doesn’t do anyone any good.
  5. Practice being beautiful.  Focus on what you like about your body.  As the song goes, “you’ve got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”  When you look in the mirror (if you must…more coming on this), practice looking at what pleases you and ignoring what doesn’t.
  6. See the beauty in others. And tell them so.  Every time you offer another woman a genuine, authentic compliment, that positive energy will flow back to you.
  7. Read healthy. Throw away those women’s magazines, which propagate the thin ideal, and embed insidious messages of inadequacy in our minds.  There’s too much else worth reading to waste time on what undermines our self-image.
  8. Go on a mirror diet. Restrict your intake of mirror time.  Of course, you want to make sure you don’t have your shirt on inside out, and that nothing’s showing that ought not to be—tags, bra straps, t-bars; but other than that, try not lingering.  Instead of scrutinizing how flat your stomach looks, or studying the curve of your bottom in your jeans, walk away.  You will discover the inverse relationship between time spent looking in the mirror and how comfortable you feel in your clothing and ultimately in your body.  More mirror time, more picking at your clothing and feeling not quite right.  Less mirror time and you might even find yourself forgetting to think about the fit of your clothes, or the shape of your body.  How much more mind space then to think about the things that really matter.
  9. Give back. Volunteer at a women’s organization.  We feel better about ourselves and our challenges feel more surmountable, when we put energy into helping others.  The shape of our thighs will become that much less important, when we’re focused on someone else’s needs.
  10. Meditate. Spend time alone with your mind.Our minds are the true source of our body image, not the numbers on a scale or the fit of a pair of jeans.  Even if it’s only ten minutes, time spent intentionally noticing the chatter of our mind is healing.  As Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run says, “Beauty is an inside job”—inside our minds.  Notice the messages you’re sending yourself about your body.  You have the power to change those messages.  After all, it’s your mind, right?

Originally published in Medium



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