So many people struggle with their self-confidence when it comes to body image. In fact, a recent survey showed 79 percent of Americans reported feeling unhappy with the appearance of their bodies.
One of my core values is to allow myself to age gracefully, but I’ve noticed myself coming into conflict with this recently. I smooth my skin up or back in the mirror to see what I’d look like if I could just lift those wrinkles away. I see the lines on my face and the skin under my chin, and my first thought is, “Oh! I’ve got to do something about that!” But you know what? I don’t want to do something about it.
What I want to invite us all to do is love and accept our face, our body, and ourselves just as we are. That doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to feel like we’re looking our best in any given moment; it simply means we can shift away from running those inner tapes around self-worth and self-image that bring us down. Here are five powerful ways we can use mindfulness practice to support a healthier sense of self.
- Focus on Gratitude: Be mindful of all you are grateful for in just being alive, and for all that your body does for you. If you are free from illness, have gratitude. If you are able to walk and move and play, have gratitude. Even if you struggle with a physical disability, focus on gratitude for the brilliant internal processes of your body that allow you to think and feel and breathe and smell and taste. Your body is your gift for exploring and experiencing life in whatever ways you are capable of.
- Be Mindful of Your Self-Talk: Mindfulness invites us to be consciously aware of our thoughts, and to choose thoughts that support our well-being. If you notice yourself internally cringing or criticizing when you look in the mirror, put on a bathing suit, or try on some new clothes, for example, take a moment to stop and breathe into your discomfort. Take a couple of slow, deep breaths and get grounded, feel your feet on the ground. Pause and break free from that hurtful way of thinking. You can then replace those thoughts with something more loving and accepting.
- Offer Yourself Loving Kindness: When we focus on how we want to alter our bodies rather than accepting them as they are, what we’re really saying is that we’re not comfortable with ourselves. We don’t feel loved. Use “Loving Kindness” phrases to direct some love your way next time you catch yourself thinking negatively about your body, i.e., “May I be healthy. May I be happy. May I know that I am loved. May I know that I am worthy of love, just the way I am.”
- Acknowledge Your Amazingness: Grab a journal and write down four things that you are great at – anything at all! Do you make people laugh with your great sense of humor? Do you make the perfect PB&J? Are you great at your job? Are you a fabulous listener? What would your closest friends or loved ones say your gifts and talents are? Write down at least four things, then look back at them from time to time, and add new ones!
- Write Yourself a Love Letter: Pick something about yourself that tends to draw your critical focus – something you sometimes wish you could change, or wish were different about you. Now, write a letter to yourself from the perspective of your innermost compassionate voice. Write to yourself like you are writing to a dear friend.