As a body image coach, one of the most common questions I get asked is…
"How can I accept my body the way it is when I don’t like the way it looks?"
Feeling positive about our body, or simply accepting our body as it is, is actually really, really difficult. It’s hard to feel good about ourselves and our bodies when we are constantly being bombarded with messages and images of what a body should look like. It becomes even more challenging when we don’t fit into the mould of society’s beauty and body standards.
So how can we feel more positive about our bodies when we are being told (either directly or indirectly) that our body is not good enough and needs ‘fixing’.
Well, practising gratitude is a great place to start!
Thanks to that thing called negativity bias, our brains are hardwired to focus on the bad stuff or the things we are lacking. This bias is a result of evolution. It helped our ancestors survive and run away from big, scary human-eating animals in the wild.
This instinct keeps us alert to the bad stuff in case they pose a threat, which is a great survival tool – thank you ancestors, but in 2019 we don’t need to be worrying too much about those big, scary human-eating animals. Instead, we’re probably just going about our everyday life and bam, suddenly one negative thought sends us down a negative spiral full of negativity bias
We start focusing on the things we don’t have. How much better life would be if we weighed x amount of kilograms, our lack of abs or thigh gap or why we don’t look like that model from Instagram.
Does this ring true to you? I know it has for me for most of my own life. All the time I spent loathing my body, wishing I had a flatter stomach and smaller thighs. I never once appreciated my body for all the marvellous things it was doing for me (umm…a hell of a lot!). When things don’t go our way – maybe we’ve resigned to the fact our body no matter how much we diet, will never be a size 6 or maybe we’re struggling with chronic pain or illness and resent our body for letting us down – it’s easy to fall into the habit of complaining or blaming ourselves and even others (BTW this is a totally normal human reaction – don’t feel guilty, we all do it!)
But how can I be grateful for my body when I constantly want to change it?
We need to look outside the box and find appreciation in the way our body works for us – sometimes this can be something we may take for granted in our daily life.
Start ‘simple’ and don’t exaggerate.
When we are practising gratitude, it’s important to be honest. Feeding yourself with lies or exaggerated truths won’t help you feel any better about your body. Don’t say you love your *insert body part* when truthfully you don’t. Use words such as ‘thankful’, ‘appreciate’ and even ‘grateful’.
I am thankful for my (body part) because (it does/accomplishes/makes me feel…)
I am grateful for…
Let go of the pressure.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to come up with something amazing (I’m pretty sure everything our bodies do for us is amazing but you know what I mean!) – you can show gratitude to any part of your body for ANY reason you want as long as it is true for you.
Make time for yourself.
Spend a couple of minutes reflecting on your day and thinking about how you used your body. Make some time in your day to sit down and really connect with this practice. It will not only help you shift the way you feel about your body but it will also improve the relationship you have with it.
I recommend writing down three things that you are grateful for each day and make it a daily ritual. Spend some time doing it in the morning before your day starts or in the evening before bedtime – whatever works for you! Write them down somewhere in a journal or on your phone so you can go back and read them when you’re having a bad body image day.
By finding gratitude in our perceived flaws or imperfections, we can begin to turn our negative feelings into positive ones.
Body gratitude opens our mind, strengths our relationship with ourselves and makes life so much more enjoyable. When we focus on what we are grateful for rather than what our body doesn’t look like or what’s wrong with it, our inner mean girl takes a backseat and lowers her voice.
What are you grateful for?