To heal negative Body Image and feel good about your body, it isn’t necessary to change your body. Instead it involves unlearning your beliefs about your body and relearning new things about yourself and your body. It involves “swimming upstream” against societal images, values, and expectations.
It is possible to feel better about your body and see the beauty of your body. Here are some steps to take.
1. Acquaint yourself with the image you have of your body. Visually, kinesthetically, emotionally, and verbally. Notice what you see and, notice what you don’t see. Notice your own criticism and judgments. Notice how you limit your life because of this. Notice the times you are sensitive about your body.
2. Find a space inside yourself where you can have your own relationship to your body. Find a place where you can see your self and your body for what it really is. Find people who support you to keep outside messages out so you can hear your own inner voice speak.
3. Tell the story of your body. Cry the tears, until there are no more tears. Find places to vent the self-hatred. Listen to your own anguish, or find someone to listen to your anguish.
4. Remember you were trained to focus on your body to solve your problems. Rationally tell yourself your problems or struggles in life are not because of your body. Wrestle with your inner demons. Wrestle them down; see them for what they are—an internalization of self-hatred, of shame, fear, doubts, addictions, and obsessions. We learned in our histories and in our culture to hate ourselves, and our bodies, to not be good enough, to not measure up.
5. Listen to yourself when you talk about your body
- Keep a journal
- What circumstances or people trigger negative feelings?
- How does this negative self-talk affect your life?
4. Improve what you can within reason
- Exercise and movement for fun, pleasure, and health
- Good nutrition for better health and longevity
- Dressing and grooming in ways that reflect your uniqueness
4. Experience body pleasures and sensuality – get massages, go dancing, touch cold marble, etc.
5. Surround yourself with people who know the difference between inner and outer qualities…people who value your creativity, intelligence, spunkiness, sincerity, vulnerabilities, talents and loving heart.
6. Develop activities that enrich your self-esteem. Reflect on your many accomplishments besides how well you control your weight or appearance.
7. Learn to relax and calm your negative mental chatter—through prayer, meditation, yoga, etc.
8. Cultivate compassion for yourself and others.