Declaring war against our bodies is a form of self abandonment. When we focus solely on our physical appearance and derive our entire self-worth from how our body is perceived by others or ourselves we are bound to suffer.
Befriending your body
A healthy and positive body image is characterized by a realistic perception of the body’s shape and size. This includes feeling comfortable with your body and implies that not all your mental energy is devoted to thoughts about your body and how it might be perceived by others.
Sadly, the way in which many of us treat our bodies reveal our struggle to accept and respect our body as it is. Some might even claim they hate their body, or parts of it and where these thoughts become compulsive the negative body image poisons the entire self-image. Where the identification is this strong, self-esteem is based purely on having the ideal body. In declaring war against our body and subjecting it to abuse, we fail to recognize it for the amazing instrument that it is.
While at the extreme, these thoughts are characteristic of individuals suffering from eating disorders, the reality is that many men and women entertain similar, albeit, less punitive thoughts that could encourage eating disorder related behaviors.
Notice what happens once you entertain thoughts of ‘I am not good enough as I am’? This belief is the core issue and reveals that our focus has fixated on just one aspect of our being; our physical appearance. The belief ‘If only I had the perfect body I would be happy’ delude many people. In reality happiness is not a constant state, and the previous dissatisfaction with our body will undoubtedly be directed to other areas of our lives.
In the AA community it is often suggested that you ‘fake it till you make it’. Changing how we act can have a profound impact on how we come to feel and think. This strategy also applies to issues related to body image. Self respect and respect for your body can be exercised in numerous ways, and a starting point could be to dress your body in flattering clothes, grooming it, and naming one thing about it you are grateful for every day. This may sound banal, but often the real power lies in consistently applying a simple principle.
Writing a daily (even if short) gratitude list is a powerful form of self care. Shifting our focus from the body, as if that is all that we are, to what we are grateful for, will naturally inspire a kinder and more accepting way of being.