Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul. — Wayne W. Dyer
You don’t feel quite right in your own skin.
You blame your body for your unhappiness-
it’s too big,
too this or too that.
You sum it up as one big collective ugh!
It’s the feeling that if this one part of your body is different then you could feel good about yourself.
Shame takes over and seeps into all the other places you might feel good about yourself, maybe even comfortable with.
Sometimes body shaming yourself becomes a habit.
Emotional eating often enters the picture and now there’s even more to discomfort and just plain bad feelings you’re dealing with.
It’s common, especially among women, to talk about what you don’t like about your body, how you want to change it and then to discuss the options to make it happen as if you’re assessing the pros and cons of which car to buy.
Something that started when you were younger, noticing differences among friends and then comparing those differences to your unique self, carries over into adulthood.
The problem is that noticing becomes criticism with a distinctly negative tone.
You may not even realize it, but your body has become the enemy. The ammo for your assault? Emotional eating.
No matter how accomplished, how successful you may be in other areas of your life, this pervasive feeling of dread about what isn’t easily changed casts a shadow over everything else.
The good news is that you can change.
Transformation is possible.
Here are three practical ways to stop body shame and shift your relationship with your body to respect, kindness and love.
1. Stop chasing the latest diet fads.
It’s good to stay updated on the current thinking about nutrition and what’s most beneficial. It’s also good to try out different eating plans and get to know what feels right for your body, what gives you energy, what doesn’t sit well with you, etc.
We all need to eat a healthful diet.
Where things go wrong is the focus on a specific plan that will reshape your body to fit your imagined ideal. There’s no way for you to know where you’ll end up.
What you can do is stay focused, curious and accepting of what you learn along the way.
Instead: Slow down and listen to yourself.
Listen to the feedback your body is giving you about your eating habits. If you feel like things could improve, try something new. Do it as an experiment that leaves you in the driver’s seat.
The diet plan shouldn’t rule you.
Instead think of the changes you’re making as, “seeing what fits.”
It’s like finding the perfect pair of jeans. When you think, you’ve found them, wear them for a bit, reserve your judgment until they’re broken in, only then do you know if you’re a perfect match for each other!
2. Stop negative body talk
Think about the last time you said anything, either out loud or in your own head, about your body. Was it positive or negative?
How did it affect you and your motivation to improve your health?
Did it help you stay on track with the positive changes you’ve made?
The consequences of a pessimistic mindset are goal breaking. It leaves you feeling defeated, hopeless and depressed.
But, when you’re able to shift into a forward growth oriented mindset the possibilities are endless.
You don’t have to try and convince yourself that what you don’t like about your body you should like it and if you just practiced more acceptance you will like it.
This will never work.
What does help is clarity.
Be clear about what you would like to change and be realistic about what’s set by nature.
Instead: Shift your focus.
Use a mantra to help you shift your thoughts and focus on what you want to happen.
For every objection think of an equally positive alternative.
You don’t have to believe it right now, but adding alternatives gives you more opportunities and more choices about how you care for yourself.
3. Stop focusing on the only reason to exercise is to reshape your body.
When the only commitment to exercise is to reshape your body, you will likely run out of steam.
We all know the benefits of exercise; memory improvement as we age, clear thinking, heart health, decreased risk of chronic illness, better bone health as well as lower anxiety and depression, to name a few.
Yet, it’s easy to go back to weight loss as the reason.
Instead: Focus on the full range of health benefits.
One of the very best benefits of exercise is the experience of your body moving, breathing, sweating.
Knowing that you’re alive and filling your body with oxygen and supporting the cascade of feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones that keep you happy is reason enough.
Most of all, focus on the most wonderful benefit, that moving your body helps you to build a strong relationship with yourself.
Your relationship with your body can be the motivation you need to begin transforming your relationship with yourself. You can have a kind, loving and strong relationship with your mind, body and heart.
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Originally published at medium.com