4 Ways to Break Up with Bad Body Image

Have you ever flipped through a magazine and felt insecure about your body? Most women, at some point, have wallowed in that insecurity.

When it becomes something you think about 24/7, then it may be time to learn how to break up with bad body image.

We have all battled with that critical voice in our heads telling us that we’re lazy, belittling our physical appearance or just reminding us of our own shortcomings or lack of self-control.

Whenever we allow ourselves to engage with, and therefore vindicate, that voice, we do much more than simply put ourselves down; we actually feed into a negative spiral of emotional eating.

In the moment, it is easy to become a slave to the cycle, and in this one-sided conversation in our minds, we feel that the negative self-talk is actually true. It must be if we are telling ourselves that, right?

Who would know better than ourselves? The very nature of this repetitive pattern of negative reinforcement has the power to convince us to accept that this self-talk is an accurate reflection of who are are, and so we don’t even think to question it.

Eating to feel better, as a way of coping with the stress of this cycle, clearly only inflates the problem of negative body image. By using food, in an attempt to cure our emotional ills, we are ultimately causing ourselves to feel even less attractive physically and worse about ourselves introspectively. Now that little voice has one more stone to throw!

Stop the parade of berating yourself.

Chubby girl with guilty feeling to eat ice cream

Try looking at it as a cycle. A stressful situation, or some type of emotional trigger can wake up the negative self-talk. This leaves you more vulnerable to giving in to emotional eating, the act of which is familiar and temporarily comforting.

You are rewarded with a fleeting release from the stress that seemed so overwhelming. For this brief moment in time you feel escape from the pain and your brain literally reimburses your efforts with a momentary release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is produced when your body processes sugars. It is responsible for things like controlling our appetite, but also regulates emotions and judgment.

After finishing our mindless binge, the serotonin leaves the party and the berate parade arrives! Now we resume with the routine insults about our lack of willpower to resist overeating, sprinkled with plenty of attacks about poor body image, and we’re off to the races once again.

Reverse the cycle.

When you’re constantly thinking negatively about your body, you can’t expect the solution to come from anyone else—not even loved ones can fix it for you. You can be married and still have poor body image, or be surrounded by loving friends and family and still catch yourself flinging insults at the mirror.

If you’re chronically experiencing poor body image, then what you’re lacking is an authentic connection with yourself. You might be blocking these connections by not sharing your true feelings. This is a huge part of why you’re constantly feeling shame and a lack of control with your body. It all starts with you.

You have more power over your body image and overall well-being than you realize, and the first step is simply to give yourself permission to love yourself.

Once you’re ready to embrace a more positive view of who you are, there are some simple but effective techniques you can practice every day that will brighten that light inside of you.

As soon as you start to change the way you think about yourself and your approach to life, you can actually reverse the cycle of negativity and initiate a new pattern of emotional growth and happiness.

There are 4 ways to improve your body image.

Three young happy women drinking tea at spa resort

1. Comparison is the thief of joy. Everyone at some point has something that they wish they could change about their body. When you notice yourself wishing that you had someone else’s body, you’re taking for granted what is uniquely you.

You’re very rare and special and so is your body! Perfect is an illusion, and while we all have areas we can improve on, that has nothing to do with your value as a person or how much love and gratitude you deserve.

2. If the only prayer you said in your life was “Thank You”, that would suffice. Rather than spending your energy on wishing you were thinner, redirect your focus to something you already have at this very moment—whether it’s something like your beautiful eyes that allow you to take in the world around you, your ears so you can hear the sound of the ocean or the magic of a great song or just your arms so you can embrace loved ones and cuddle with your pet.

It really doesn’t matter; the act of expressing gratitude actually has a chemical effect in your brain and makes you happier! Just thank the universe for what you have and you will feel its gratitude in return.

3. You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it. When you’re physically uncomfortable in your body, it’s important to wear clothes that you feel comfy in.

This doesn’t mean you have a license to go out into the world wearing your PJs every day (not that there’s anything wrong with that once in a while), but you should consider clothes that make you feel physically comfortable so you aren’t tugging on them all day. There is also value in dressing to how you want to feel. If you’re wanting to lose weight so you can wear the latest fashions, then wear them already as you are. You will look hot if you feel hot!

4. Smile, breathe and go slowly. The more you take the time to take care of yourself, the better the relationship will be with your body and also those around you.

When you go out of your way to give yourself a little extra love—like a massage, getting your hair or nails done or even taking a walk with friends or family—you’re teaching yourself that you deserve more and your mindset will start to adapt to that as well. Self-care is not selfish. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be the best possible you inside and out. You deserve it!

When you have the mindset that you’re worthy and beautiful as you are now, you build the foundation to make positive changes in your life. Anyone who isn’t happy with themselves unless their body is ‘perfect’ will never actually achieve contentment—that’s the dirty secret nobody wants to acknowledge.

The truth is, happiness and positivity aren’t the goal or the destination; they are just the most efficient fuel to drive you towards that healthier version of you. So, take a deep breath, give thanks and share the love. If you have a special way you like to maintain positive vibes and promote love, share it with us below!

About the author

Collin Christine McShirley

She has a masters in clinical psychology, certified from the centre for dieting and eating disorders, and specializes in emotional eating, body image, mindful eating, and self-esteem. Visit her website to learn about her programs and specials.

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