We’ve all said it, whether it was to yourself when looking in the mirror or with a group of friends or family. We have all said, “I hate my body”.
Perhaps there was something that triggered this feeling, like not fitting into last winter’s jeans or being teased about your body shape by peers.
Or maybe you’ve always harbored these feelings towards your body. Perhaps you don’t even know what it’s like to love your body.
Luckily, there are several science-backed strategies to help you heal your relationship with your body image.
Some of these strategies help you appreciate your body, while others help to put things into perspective, is what your body looks like that important?
Whatever strategy works best for you, you can use these techniques every single day to improve your body image throughout the rest of your life.
1. Focus on what your body does for you
Often we focus too hard on what our body looks like and we don’t spend time appreciating what our body does for us.
Think about all the things in your life that you enjoy. Perhaps it’s a sport, reading, doing puzzles, cooking.
Whatever it is, imagine doing these tasks if your body wasn’t functioning the way it is now. Imagine if you were paralyzed, if you didn’t have hands or fingers, if you couldn’t walk or run or jump.
This sounds morbid, but it helps to bring things into perspective. Think about all the amazing things your body can do that help you do what you love. Your body does so much for you, spending a small part of your day just appreciating it is the least you can do.
2. Focus on what you like about your body
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others. We walk down the street and think, “Wow, I wish I had her legs” or “I would die for a butt like hers”.
We often pick out features we envy about other people’s bodies and become jealous of them.
Yet when it comes to ourselves, we are rarely focusing on our good qualities. We focus on the parts we hate, the parts we want to change, and always come to the conclusion: “I hate my body”.
Now imagine if we put that judgement on others. Would we be so jealous of them if we meticulously evaluated their whole body, even the flaws?
I challenge you to focus on features you like about your body whenever you find yourself focusing on what you dislike. You can even say out loud, “I love my fingers and I love my long hair”.
If you have a hard time thinking about anything you like, focus on things you feel neutral about instead of features you hate.
3. Shift your focus to other things in your life
Often we get so over consumed with our body shape that it becomes one of the most important things in life.
I remember watching TV as a teenager and thinking, “Wow, I’m so jealous of these characters, they have so many exciting things happening in their life that they don’t even have time to think about their weight”.
Well, guess what, that could be you!
Try seeking out new hobbies or activities that can fill your spare time as well as your thoughts. Try out a few until you find 1-2 that are genuinely enjoyable for you.
And no, they don’t have to be fitness related, in fact they don’t need to be productive at all. Just choose something that you look forward to doing.
4. Imagine if a friend said, “I hate my body”
It’s so easy to judge ourselves. But when it comes to the people you love, you tend to have much more sympathy and compassion.
If a friend said, “I hate my body”, what would you say?
I’m guessing you wouldn’t say, “Yea, your thighs are huge and your acne has gotten so bad”. Instead, you would likely tell them that they have a great body and that they shouldn’t feel so insecure.
Ponder what your response would be. And begin practicing this on yourself whenever you find yourself criticizing your body.
Remember, you are the best friend you will ever have. Be a good friend to yourself! It’s the most important relationship you will ever have.
5. Evaluate your “why”
Finally, it may be beneficial to evaluate why your body shape is so important to you and why you want to change it.
Some common reasons people want to change their bodies is to appear more attractive to love interests, to feel more confident, to feel better overall, etc.
Now ask yourself:
- Do I need to change my body shape to achieve these goals?
- Or am I able to achieve these things by focusing on other aspects of my life?
- And are these goals even realistic? Or that important?
Sure, there are certain things that can only be accomplished by changing your body shape, but for the most part, you will find that you can achieve your dreams and goals in the body you are in right now.
How to continue to positive trend
As you move forward with your life, keep these strategies in the back of your mind. Identify the ones that work for you, and keep that in your toolbox.
Whenever you feel down about your body, bring back a strategy of choice and implement it.
You’ll likely find that over time, your “I hate my body” thoughts will slowly begin to come up less often.
And before you know it, you will have gone a whole day, a whole week, a whole month without thinking, “I hate my body”.