Many people, and particularly women, are obsessed about their appearance. And who could blame them? No matter where you turn, there are images of extraordinary physical beauty on TV, in movies and magazines, and on social media. These portrayals of how we’re “supposed” to look have led to so many problems for people of all ages.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good and feel confident about our appearance, the unrealistic standards of beauty that constantly bombard us distort our perception of what’s acceptable. At a young age, many people start internalizing negative messages that seem to say there is something wrong with how their body looks. This adversely affects their self-esteem and feelings of worthiness and can lead to mental health issues like depression and eating disorders.While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good and feel confident about our appearance, the unrealistic standards of beauty that constantly bombard us distort our perception of how we’re supposed to look.. Click To Tweet
Research shows that the vast majority of women and more than 20% of men in the U.S. are dissatisfied with their physical appearance. Because there’s almost no escaping the toxic media messages that reinforce this, we have a long way to go until greater acceptance of our vastly different body types becomes the norm.
Despite this, I think it’s really important to work on deprogramming ourselves from the unhealthy body image messaging that surrounds us.
3 Ways to Ditch Toxic Thoughts and Beliefs About Your Body
If you’re struggling with this issue, here are a few good suggestions to help you let go of the unhealthy and negative perceptions you may be harboring about your own body.
- Make a list of at least 10 things—yes, 10 things—that you like about yourself and your body. Put this someplace so you can see it every day. Add to your list each time you recognize something else you like—even if they are just little things.
- Use your journal to write down the names of the people who have positively influenced you in your life. Think of the teachers or mentors, family members, cultural figures, and friends who have helped you become the person you are. How did they do that? Notice how little their physical shape, fitness, or beauty had anything to do with their strength and character, and all that you gained from them.
- Check in with the automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) that get stuck in your head. Most likely they’re the kind of hurtful things you would never say to a friend, yet you’re saying them to yourself. This is not helpful and it’s causing you emotional pain that you don’t deserve.
I know I’ve written about this strategy before, but here it is again because I believe it’s so helpful and it’s my favorite way to challenge negative self-talk. For example, say one of your toxic thoughts is something like, “People won’t like me because I wear a bigger size than they do.” Write it down and answer these questions:
- Is that true?
- Is it 100% true?
- How does this thought make you feel about yourself?
- How would you feel if you didn’t have this thought?
Then, turn around the original thought (i.e. “People won’t like me…”) to its opposite and see if the new thought (i.e. “People do like me, and my size doesn’t matter to them.”) isn’t actually truer and more accurate. There’s a very good chance it is.
As humans, each of us tends to be our own worst critic, which is why I encourage you to take the time to do these 3 exercises. They can help you shift your negative perceptions and think more realistically and positively about your body. Ultimately, they can help you see just how amazing it really is.
For more inspiration, order my newest book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child: How Persistence, Grit, and Faith Created a Reluctant Healer.
If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.