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Negative body image has become a big problem in the Western world. How people view themselves is often dictated by the standards set up by marketing executives. But that false ideal isn’t healthy…or real! And it’s causing people to have a negative self-concept around their bodies.
Do you ever speak negatively about your body? “I look so fat”, “I hate my thighs”, “I hate this cellulite”, etc…
Let’s face it, we are very critical of our own bodies. And negative body image has become incredibly common. But why does this happen?
Poor body image is the result of decades of marketing and society’s beliefs about what true beauty is. The fashion and cosmetic companies that sell products to improve appearance have a vested interest in making sure you don’t feel so great about how you look. So they use impossibly perfect pictures to create a standard of health and beauty that every woman should strive for.
They want you to desire to look like the highly edited and airbrushed models who are perfect in a way that no real human can ever be in real life.
When you have that standard set in your mind, then you will be far more likely to run out and purchase the products they are selling. All to help you look better and to try and attain that level of perfection.
But that level of perfection doesn’t and can never exist.
Real humans are beautifully imperfect. Beauty comes with stretch marks, cellulite, muffin tops, freckles, fat rolls, and all kinds of other imperfections that make each of us the beautiful women that we are…on the outside.
Unfortunately, because of the false standards that have been set, far too many people speak to themselves and their bodies with negativity, hate, and even disgust.
They would never think about speaking to someone they cared about the way that they speak to themselves…and yet it continues.
Do you speak negatively to yourself?
If so, only you can break the pattern! You can change how you view your body and begin to love the imperfectly beautiful person that you are. You can begin to let go of the conditioning that has been put in place by marketing companies and allow yourself to see the beauty of your flaws. And you can stop speaking to your body with such negativity and instead speak about it positively!
How do you begin to change this negative pattern?
The negative body focus pattern has been created because of past conditioning. And that pattern has created neural pathways in your brain that have allowed it to become a habit. You don’t have to think much about having these negative thoughts…they happen on autopilot because of those neural pathways. The good news is that you can begin to retrain the brain and break those neural pathways. And you can form new ones that are connected to much better and healthier beliefs and patterns!
The first step is recognizing the negative patterns and how they are doing a disservice to you. If you aren’t aware of a pattern, then you can’t change it! So it’s important to begin recognizing those things in your life that no longer serve you.
Questioning your body image beliefs
As an adult over the age of 35, approximately 95% of our functioning in daily life comes from previous subconscious programming that often goes all the way back to early childhood. Only 5% of how we function daily comes from our conscious minds. So we have thoughts and behaviors that are on autopilot all the time.
Because we’re on autopilot, it’s easy to live with thoughts and behaviors that really aren’t true for us, and that don’t actually work for who we truly are. But because of that past conditioning, we don’t think to question our thoughts and behaviors. We simply keep moving forward each day on autopilot, never realizing that we have greater choices and control of our life.
One of the most profound books I ever read, and one that really piqued my interest in how the mind works is The Power of the Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy. Our mind is a powerful instrument…far more powerful than most realize. We have the power to create so much in our life if we understand how to harness that power in the right ways!
Look at the true beauty around you
Begin looking at those around you. You will start to see bodies of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. How many of those actually look like the photoshopped models in the media? Most likely, not very many at all! True beauty does not come from the superficiality of the body. It radiates out from within. True beauty is flawed but real. It comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
When you begin to truly see how imperfect we all are, the more you can begin to redefine what beauty is.
The next step is taking the time to change your own dialogue about your body. You must stop talking about your body in negative terms so that you can break the neural pathways that were created long ago. This will take time and patience with yourself! So don’t beat yourself up if you slip and think something negative about yourself. It can take a while to break those unhealthy patterns. But as you begin to recognize those patterns they will be easier to stop.
Then replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts about your body! This can be a challenge at first if you’ve been holding onto body shame for a long time. So be gentle with yourself!
Changing my body image
As a plus-sized woman, I spent decades talking negatively to myself about my body. I spent most of my life with a very unhealthy negative body image. And I didn’t just keep my opinions about myself private. I regularly talked about how much I hated my body to my friends and family.
But once I started questioning my beliefs and societal conditioning those thoughts and beliefs began to change. And that change also began to change how I saw others as well. I can look at myself in the mirror and see the beauty in my imperfection. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to do what I can to be healthy. But never again will I attempt to make changes, such as losing weight because I hate my body and want to look better! It now comes from a place of self-love and wanting to be my best self!
Make the choice to change your body image!
You do not have to continue hating your body and the way you look! You can break the past programming that taught you to do that. And you can learn to love yourself. But you must make the choice to pay attention to your negative patterns. Your life will begin to change when you do!