” She is skinny, I like her dress, her flowing hair and her fabulous make-up. If only I looked like. ” How many of you are constantly comparing yourselves to other people. By comparing ourselves to others, we are in fact setting ourselves up to feel insecure, have low self-esteem and a poor body image. We are setting ourselves up to feel as a failure and that we are not good enough. We have so much pressure from the media and society to look like a supermodel that we forget about what we do have to offer and in fact how amazing our bodies truly are. Do you wish to continue your life in pursuit of that perfect body or would you rather spend your time and energy enjoying what you have accomplished with friends and family?
In moving toward a sense of wellness, let’s talk about the tools to work on your mind. Let us move you toward understanding, appreciating and accepting your body so that you can finally learn to love who you are and your body shape. These are the three steps toward a happier you.
1. Awareness: It is important to understand how miraculous your body actually is. Biologically and physically, our bodies are masterpieces that perform at a high level every moment. We also need to appreciate that we consume food to provide fuel for our bodies so that we can function in many different capacities. Think about your body and it’s limitations before you decided to have surgery and the improvements that you have made since then. Learn to practice mindfulness. In other words, we need to begin paying attention and listening to our body’s cues of hunger, fullness, fatigue and pain. This will help us to differentiate between our emotional and physical hunger.
2. Acceptance: We can move toward acceptance of our present situation and what is, rather than dwelling or longing for what is not. To facilitate this, we can begin to think about our positive intrinsic qualities and rehearsing positive statements about ourselves such as, I am a caring person. Be kind to yourself and pay attention to the words you choose in speaking to yourself. Stop verbally abusing yourself! Also, in the same way that we expect normal weight fluctuations with each day or month, we should also realize that we have our own unique genetics and body type.
3. Assistance: Realize that you deserve encouragement when life gets tough and you feel stressed. It’s okay to reach out to friends, family or professionals for support. Let those close to you know who you are by expressing your needs and wants.
By Heidi R. Cherwony, Psy.D.