In a world inundated with unrealistic beauty standards, it's not uncommon for people to struggle with body image. A less than stellar self image when it comes to our physical body can create patterns of negative self-talk, diminished self-esteem, and even mental health issues and eating disorders. Body image can alter the way that we experience everything in our lives from the daily challenges we take on and avoid to the way we have sex. The way we perceive our body is influenced by societal ideals, personal experiences, familial standards and expectations and of course, media and marketing..
Distorted self-perception and a negative body image is most prevalent and recognized in women as there is a greater expectation for women to meet societal beauty standards. Body image issues can start at a young age, with young girls influenced by the way women in their family or friends speak about their own bodies. Many men and boys will struggle with body image, specially as they enter puberty and their bodies begin to change. Because it isn’t spoken about as much, many young men find these feelings of inadequacy embarrassing and neglect to share it or to get help.
Unless you are willing to disconnect yourself from all people and devices, avoiding unsolicited input on what our body should look like is inevitable. We are bombarded all day long with expectations and confusing ideas on what is right and wrong. This is when being able to think critically for ourselves becomes paramount. There is no “right” body type. All if us are meant to look different and this can be a beautiful thing. There is, however, a slippery slope. Body positivity does not allow for bodies to be unhealthy. Being healthy means to have our body function naturally at its optimal potential without the aid of drugs or unnecessary medical treatments. When we take responsibility for our overall physical health and add to that a loving, compassionate outlook on how we look and feel, the world is ours.
This, however, can be easier said than done. Many times, a negative body image can be linked to a history of physical or sexual trauma. Traumatic events where our physical and emotional traumas have been crossed can have long lasting effects on the way we occupy our physical body. Addressing these issues with a trauma specialist can help you to free yourself from the past brain wiring that occurs in such instances. If this is you, the key to successfully overcoming these limitations comes in your trust and connection with a trained therapist. Interview many until you find one that you feel truly comfortable with.
As you begin to see yourself in a more positive light, your confidence naturally increases. This newfound confidence can extend beyond body image, positively impacting various aspects of your life, improving your love for yourself and all of the unique qualities that make you who you are. If you are ready to get started, below are three ways you can start to improve your relationship with your body.
Practice Self-Compassion: Start by acknowledging and appreciating your body for all it does for you. Replace self-criticism with self-compassion. When negative thoughts arise, counter them with positive ones. Think of it like this: if you will allow negative thoughts into your mind, you owe it to yourself to allow positive ones to spend as much time in there as well. This way you will train your mind to seek out your unique positive qualities.
Get your body feeling good: Participate in activities that promote strength and health. This could include yoga, paddle-boarding, dancing, or any form of exercise that emphasizes the joy of movement rather than achieving a specific look.
Change your environment: Educate yourself on things that can help you to feel more powerful over your physical experience. Learn about nutrition and about how your body works. Surround yourself with others who feel comfortable in their bodies and are focused on health rather than an aesthetic. This includes the social media accounts you follow. Consider unfollowing accounts that make you feel bad about yourself and instead find others who are looking to empower your ability to be healthy.
The Power of Hypnosis
Hypnosis is a powerful technique that induces a state of deep relaxation and heightened suggestibility. In this state, you are more receptive to positive suggestions and can effectively reframe negative thought patterns. Through guided sessions, a hypnotist can help replace self-critical thoughts with positive patterns that affirm a different self-view. With enough repetition and visualization, hypnosis can lead to a more positive self-perception and improved body image. By accessing the subconscious mind, you can shift the main focus of your self view from your physical appearance to other aspects of who you are in order to see yourself more completely.
If you are struggling with your body image and find that many of your thoughts revolve around the way you look and the food you eat, take some time to ponder whether you want the rest of your life to feel like this. You have the potential to live a life that is beautiful and full of growth and adventure. Start on your path to healing your relationship with your body. It’s the one you’ve got. May as well fall deeply in love with it.