A few weeks ago, I started this series on the negative voice and explained the importance of catching that negative voice and stopping it or talking back to it, or even journaling out a rebuttal.
When left unchecked, those negative thoughts gain too much power and we begin to accept them as truth.
Negative thoughts can attack us in all parts of life- job uncertainty, parenting, running a race or any form of self-doubt but I’m talking primarily about body image.
Women in particular tend to narrow our self worth to physical appearance (the power of that silly scale, or how we think we look in the mirror.)
So step two is to take steps to broaden your self image to include the full picture of who you are. It sounds obvious in some ways. We know we are much more than what we look like, but we give that realm a whole lot more say in how good we can feel about ourselves than we do our other achievements and character traits.
I sometimes assign my clients these simple exercises:
Find 3-5 friends or family members and ask them to name the top 5 things they love about you.
What do you think they would say? Do you they think they would add your pant size to the list?
Think about a woman in your life who you find beautiful. What is it that you like about her? Start naming a few things… yes, she may have a beautiful smile but would you find it as beautiful if she didn’t have the beautiful inner qualities to back it up?
After gathering what other people have said about you, list all of your own best qualities and character traits as well as some of your favorite physical characteristics. I’m amazed sometimes by how much some people struggle with this, but these are the things we should really be proud of!
Consider things like compassion, sincerity, generosity, sense of humor, love of learning, kindness or integrity. Which of these come most naturally to you?
I know I would much rather have a friend (or life partner) with the above qualities than one whose only concern is whether or not she can squeeze into her skinny jeans.
Of course there is nothing wrong with the pursuit of weight loss or wanting to look and feel our best. It’s important to feel and look our best and model good health to our families and communities. BUT- to be sustainable and healthy, it must also include a positive, balanced self-image.
By focusing on the many amazing things about you, you can broaden your definition of self so that you can take away some of the power of your physical appearance over your mood or view of yourself.
Brag a little… what would you say are your top 3 character strengths?
What do you love about your body?