HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BODY
In a world that often bombards us with unattainable beauty standards and unrealistic body expectations, it's no wonder that many of us struggle with our relationship with our bodies. In 2023, we are all about self love and body confidence, but it wasn’t always this way. From magazine covers to social media feeds, we are constantly surrounded by images that seem to suggest there is only one way to be considered beautiful or worthy. However, the truth is that our bodies are unique, diverse, and deserving of love and acceptance.
Working on our relationship with our bodies is a deeply personal and transformative journey. It's about embracing our imperfections, celebrating our strengths, and nurturing ourselves from within. It's not just about physical appearance; it's about the way we feel about ourselves and how we treat our bodies with kindness, respect, and gratitude.
Within this blog I will teach you how to replace self-criticism with self-compassion, self-doubt with self-confidence, and self-judgment with self-acceptance. Whether you're just beginning to question society's standards or have been on this journey for some time, this blog is here to support you. It's time to silence the inner critic, appreciate the incredible capabilities of our bodies, and embark on a path of self-discovery and growth.
So let me start by explaining the science behind how our body image is created. There is a part of the brain called the parietal, which is responsible for our special and body awareness, as well as sensory perception. The way it does that is by utilising external stimuli (imagery/messaging) to create our perception of the outside world, the way our parents showed us a tree when we were younger and we therefore now know that is a tree, is the same area of the brain that our body image is created in. But the problem is, a tree is a tree, and whilst there are many different types, trees do not have the mass media morphing our perception of reality, through unrealistic beauty standards, the 90’s era of “size zero” or the “Atkins diet”, body shaming celebrities, our mothers, aunties, sisters, whoever always being on a new ‘diet’. This is the external stimuli that warps our interpretation of our own body. If your best friend tells you she “needs'' to lose weight but she’s smaller than you, what does that do to our subconscious mind? The same can be applied to those who are slender in relation to the Brazilian bum and legs era we went through 5 years ago, where muscle on women was the thing society was applauding, what does that do to a woman who has a body type that struggles to gain muscle? It can make her feel like her body is not acceptable.
So just know, if you do not feel satisfied with your body, it’s through no fault of your own, and unfortunately, is the world we’ve grown up in for the past 25-30 years, and social media certainly doesn’t help with this. Our brains have been programmed to see our body in warped ways vs reality. It takes a lot more than a few social media posts telling you to “love yourself no matter what” to reframe YEARS of subconscious programming. BUT I can help you with how to start by providing some holistic tips for how we heal the relationship with our bodies.
Be Kind to Yourself
Be kind and compassionate to yourself during this process, as I mentioned above, it’s not something we can just flick a switch on (despite how much I’d love that to be true) and we all of a sudden love our bodies. I appreciate that each individual will have their own feelings and emotions towards their bodies. So please, be kind to yourself during this healing phase.
Be Mindful of External Stimuli
Be mindful of the external stimuli, such as media consumption, especially social media, the attitudes of those around you in relation to their bodies. Curate your social media (and your friends) to avoid anything that triggers you.
Work on Self Acceptance
Self acceptance not only includes accepting the things we can change about ourselves (whether that’s your mind or your body), but it also encompasses accepting that there are things we might want to change to support us in having more self love. This was a big one for me, I had to change some of my thoughts, behaviours and actions so that I could live closer in alignment with my authentic self which therefore generated more self love.
Understand Your Self Talk Triggers
Are there certain things that make you criticise your body? For example, I used to always tell myself I looked ‘disgusting’ when I’d be in the house in a tracksuit, or if I looked really tired it would trigger me into picking flaws with the rest of my body, not having clothes to wear was another big trigger as then I put more focus on my body. Knowing my triggers allowed me to make really small tweaks, such as wearing nice pyjamas or lounge wear at home (it might sound simple but it allowed me to reprogram my mind away from negative self talk, I then found myself being aware of any time I would talk badly about myself regardless of what it was in relation to), other things like purchasing clothes that made me feel good supported in my positive self talk. Some of these may not be relevant to you but the point is finding your triggers (even if they’re not in relation to your body specifically) and trying to create a plan to avoid them.
Use Affirmations (When You’re Ready)
Using affirmations to reprogram your subconscious mind. I love an I AM statement BUT they do not work for everyone, and it also depends where you’re at in your journey. I’m not going to tell you to stand in the mirror saying I am beautiful and hey presto you gain 10 points of self love, it doesn’t work like that. When I use affirmations I like to make them really relevant to whatever it is I’m doing or needing, so instead of just telling myself “I am beautiful” I might say, “I am kind to myself” or “I am focused and productive”, I use them in all areas of my life and the byproduct of that is the most positive self talk you use, the better you feel about yourself. Affirmations do not always have to relate directly to the body in order for you to build a better relationship with yourself.
Raise Your Self Worth
Low confidence and poor relationships with our body generally stem from a place of low self worth. The thing is, we weren't born with low self worth, it happens because of our own personal experiences and challenges, perhaps that bad relationship, or a career challenge has left you feeling low. When we have low self worth and self esteem, it goes hand in hand with having a poor relationship with the way that we look. So by raising our self worth, it certainly helps foster a better relationship with our minds and bodies.
It’s not a simple fix to ‘raise your self worth’, it requires us to go on a journey of healing to discover what perhaps contributed to the way we now feel about ourselves and whether there are any habits or behaviours that are supporting you feeling low, such as the kinds of people you’re friends with or dating, or how you physically treat yourself, does that support a positive relationship or hinder it? It takes a lot of self reflection and analysis and the way I advise my clients to that is through journaling and challenging your belief systems. Challenging your belief systems can come from the books you read, the podcasts you listen to, or by hiring a life coach that will ensure your existing beliefs are challenged to support you in re-building new ones that encourage more self worth.
Pay Gratitude To Your Body - Shift Your Perspective
Gratitude is the art of appreciation. When we practise gratitude it allows us to make a perspective shift. We can do the same thing but with our bodies! Rather than thinking of all the things your body “isn’t”, think about what your body truly does for you. All of the things that make you happy, that bring joy to your life, are all made possible because of this beautiful vessel we call ‘the body’.
To conclude, working on our relationship with our bodies is a transformative journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and dedication. It is a process of unlearning societal expectations and embracing our unique beauty and worth. By practising self-acceptance, self-care, and self-love, we can begin to cultivate a healthier and more positive connection with our bodies. Remember that this journey is not linear, and setbacks may arise along the way. But with each step forward, we empower ourselves to appreciate the incredible vessel that carries us through life. Let us continue to support and uplift one another, celebrating the diverse forms of beauty that exist within each of us. By embracing our beautiful journey, we can inspire a collective shift towards body acceptance, liberation, and a more loving relationship with ourselves and our bodies.
Love and light, Hx