Building body confidence is no easy task. While it comes more easily for some, almost everyone struggles with body negativity at some point in their lives. No matter where your relationship with your body stands, we could all be a little more forgiving with ourselves. The following is a guide to the “Do’s and don’t’s” of creating a positive self image.
stand in front of the mirror and criticize the parts of your body you don’t like. This is very important. The first layer in the foundation of a positive body-mind relationship is silencing your inner critic. Your inner critic is the little voice in your head that tells you that your body is not thin enough, your hair not straight enough, your abs not cut enough, etc. Start by cutting out habits that give your inner critic a voice. Don’t stare at yourself in the mirror unless you are going to consciously remain neutral or think a compliment to yourself. If you consistently choose to think something positive about yourself in front of the mirror and ignore the negative self-talk that comes to mind, your inner-critic will actually begin to silence itself.
do things that make your body feel good. This can be anything from eating a hearty, healthy breakfast to making time for a workout to treating yourself to a flattering new outfit to taking twenty minutes to meditate. Self-care is extremely important for body positivity. If you treat your body badly, you will feel badly and think negatively. If you treat your body well, you will feel good and think positively.
seek validation via social media by counting likes or comparing yourself to models or celebrities that you see there. Remember that there are many people who get paid for their online presence through advertising. These people get paid to look good, and they have a whole team behind them to help them do it. If you have another purpose in life, like being a teacher, doctor, dog-walker, stay-at-home mom or dad, banker, farmer, lawyer, or any other job that does not require you to be attractive to be successful, then don’t worry about the “perfect” people you see online who are almost definitely employing professional makeup artists and photo-editing programs to boost their online appearance. And if you find yourself also comparing to people who are more like you, remember that they too have the ability to apply filters and choose the best of many photos. If you can’t help comparing, unfollow!
Keep a daily log of three things you are grateful for. This practice is simple and effective. It only takes about three minutes to complete, and it is easy to do once you make it a habit. At first, this practice may seem unrelated to body positivity. However, it is much more connected than you may think. When we are feeling particularly bad about our bodies, we tend to connect those thoughts and feelings to other areas of our lives (i.e. no one will want to hang out with me because I have acne on my face, I will never get a job because I am overweight, etc.). When we engage in these thoughts, we take the focus away from the positive things in our lives that we do have. Writing three things you are grateful for each day will shift your general mindset in a more positive direction and take the focus away from your body. The three things can be anything small or large, from the really good cup of coffee you had today to the roof over your head. People who employ this practice report being generally happier than those who don’t. Try doing it every day at the same time, such as right before bed or during your morning cup of tea. Completing the log at the same time each day will help make it a habit quickly.
focus on what your body can achieve, instead of what it looks like. Are you ashamed of bulky calf muscles? Don’t be! Those muscles are strong and they probably allow you to do a lot of things that bring you happiness, like walking the dog or playing with your kids, engaging in athletic competition or maybe even just standing up so that you can cook and clean and complete other tasks that we take for granted. If you feel shame for your stomach because you think it is too fat, stop! Be thankful that you have a stomach that allows you to enjoy food that is both healthy and indulgent, that it works really hard for you and performs a truly incredible job when it digests your food and turns it into energy to help you live your life.
beat yourself up when loving yourself does not come easily for you. This may be the most difficult part of self-love. In a world where we compare both the ups and downs of our lives to the highlights of others’ we see online, know that when someone says, “Just love yourself,” it may not come easily. Body positivity is not a switch that can be flipped over night. You must work to slowly change your mindset. Know that everyone is at a different stage of body positivity and it is okay if you do not love all of yourself right now. The important thing is that you are working to improve. You can start by checking out the other articles on this blog for ideas and tips on a living a healthy lifestyle. The goal is to find comfort in your own skin, and you will not be able to do that if you beat yourself up for falling short of perfect or not loving all of your flaws. Chances are though, as you start to make small positive mindset changes, a wave of body positivity will begin to build and flow.