We are our harshest critics, especially when left alone with our own thoughts…
There are those moments when you first stand in front of a mirror and immediately cast a cynical eye over your body. Your mind races to areas you feel insecure about and your negative internal monologue kicks off.
“This doesn’t look toned enough.”
“I wish there were fewer blemishes here.”
“I hate the way that looks.”
It’s incredibly easy to find yourself in a shame spiral, sinking into your own self-doubt and fear, which ultimately leads to you developing an inaccurate perspective about the way you look. Everyone goes through this, for some it’s a daily struggle and for others it’s a less regular occurrence. Either way it has a massive impact on your confidence and how you hold yourself. Today, I want to talk about 5 methods to help stop these thoughts in their tracks and prevent a negative body-image mentality from taking hold of you.
1. Make A Conscious Effort to Find Things You Like
It’s very easy for us to focus on what we dislike about our bodies as our minds draw us toward the negatives. It’s why people remember negative criticism more often than compliments. If you feel yourself slipping into that “critical eye” attitude, take a moment, close your eyes, and then open them again and find 4 things you like about your body.
I’m not talking about consoling yourself with “Well, I guess this is ok…”, I mean actually looking at your body and making an effort to find 4 different things that you love. This isn’t easy to do but the more you do it, the more you realise you have a lot going for you. As you get dressed, try and find clothing that accentuates these assets to really build your confidence.
2. Re-frame Your Criticism
This is a tip I picked up from a Tweet I saw months ago – I can’t remember by whom – about changing your criticism from self-nagging to something that gives you a positive drive. For example, if I look at my arms and think “God, they look so thin!”, I stop and immediately imagine someone I really hate, someone who makes my blood boil, saying that very same thing.
For me, this is Donald Trump, an easy but effective example, and when I imagine him saying “God, your arms look so thin!” I immediately fight back with passion. I come to my own defence and find myself protecting my own body image. As I’ve said before, you ARE enough and you don’t deserve criticism from your own mind, so make sure you fight back when you feel it.
3. Talk To A Friend Or Loved One
Talking through these insecurities is a great way of getting past them as it gives you perspective and lets you clear your head of the thoughts that have been rattling around. More often than not you just need some time to vocalise what you’ve been thinking and, once you do, you immediately realise how irrational you were being. It doesn’t hurt to vent to a friend and then let them straighten you out. You are loved by many people out there and they love you for who you are. You are not a burden; not on others and not on yourself.
4. What Are You Comparing Yourself To?
I’ve talked about the negative effects of media and advertising before and how comparing yourself to these different platforms is a one-way road to self-loathing. If you notice negative thoughts surfacing about your own body, ask yourself where you are getting your “ideal image” from. Is it a movie? A magazine? An advert? All of these platforms use manipulated imagery to exaggerate certain factors. Don’t trust them and DON’T use them as concrete ideals for a realistic body. They are fantasies designed to entertain, not draw comparison.
5. Go For A Workout
Before you do, though, stop for a second. Try and use the workout to clear your mind and vent your anxiety. Don’t beat yourself up, just focus on the exercise and how it feels. Exercise not only releases endorphins (the chemicals associated with relaxation, happiness and positive thinking) but also releases the stress hormone cortisol as it focuses your mind on simple tasks giving your subconscious time to calm itself, similar to basic meditation. If exercise isn’t your thing, I highly recommend using the Headspace app which has guided 10-minute meditation classes to help gather your thoughts at any time of day. I use it every week and it is free so worth a try at least.
Stay Strong & Keep Body Positive
Thanks for checking out the post guys and, as always feel free to share it or like it if you enjoyed the read. Tweet me what you really like about your body with #PositiveBodyImage to help encourage discussion. If you want, you can comment (anonymously) on your own experiences with body image issues and what you have learnt from them. Maybe you’re still working through them. Maybe you don’t want to confront them. No matter what the situation, know that there is support out there and it starts with talking to someone.