Embracing Your Body

It’s an unfortunate fact – most women are dissatisfied with some aspect of their physical appearance. In fact, the most beautiful woman you know likely has something she doesn’t like about the way she looks.

Body image is not so much a function of our actual appearance, but is more firmly rooted in our peer, social, cultural and familial values. As girls, we start to receive direct and indirect messages on what is desirable and what is not desirable in the female body. All too often, we take those messages to heart, and they can influence how we see ourselves and even our sense of self-worth.

The author of this article in the Huffington Post relays her own body image challenges and shares how she has learned to look at herself differently, starting with urging us to focus on how we feel over our size and shape. Here are some of her tips:

Practice gratitude. All too often, we ignore what is healthy about our bodies. Your body has been yours your whole life and will continue to support you as long as you live. Be thankful for how you can move, respond – all the ways your body works for you.

Pay attention to what your body needs. We all know that when we do certain things, we feel better. We feel better because our body chemically responds to healthy nurturing. Maybe it’s more nourishing eating choices, meditation, stretching, or regular exercise. Try asking yourself, “what does my body want?” rather than “what do I feel like doing?” Over time you may find yourself making healthier choices that support your overall sense of well-being.

Check those negative thoughts. Thoughts are like coding for our brains. They actually correlate to our emotions and actions. Unfortunately, the lure of the negative is strong, and we find ourselves telling ourselves things we would never dream of saying to a friend. Those patterns can seem hopelessly entrenched, but there’s hope. You can recode yourself with new positive pathways using an inherent brain capability called neuroplasticity. When you find yourself saying something like “I’m fat” or “I hate my thighs,” stop and reframe. “I’m beautiful,” or “My thighs are healthy and strong.”

Stop investing in the opinions of others. When we rely too heavily on what others say, or even what we think they might say or think, we lose our own sense of self. You are not who others think you are, but uniquely “you.”  Tune out the chatter, and learn to look at yourself with love and understanding.

When we can learn to treat our body as our friend and not the enemy, we can begin to see the beauty that has been there all along.

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