What do you see when you look in the mirror? Did you know that most women tend to see themselves with a 30-40%* negative distortion of what their bodies actually look like!
I too, used to find it hard to look at myself in the mirror because I was worried about my skin (those darn pimples) and looking too thin (side note: we should never assume that people of a certain size are more confident in themselves and their body than we are). It wasn’t until I started regularly practicing each of the three strategies that I have outlined for you in this blog post – and became truly connected with that face looking back at me in the mirror – that I was able to feel confident and comfortable in who I am and what I look like!
So if you’re someone who feels a bit uneasy about having to look at yourself and your body in the mirror, the following three strategies can help you to grow your body confidence and kick that 30-40% to the curb!
1. Realise that your thoughts about your body are just that, thoughts.
It’s so important for you to realise that your own thoughts about your body are what makes you feel “good” or “bad” about it. The wonderful thing is, your thoughts are just that, thoughts. And you can change them. The key is to bridge the difference between your negative thoughts toward more positive thoughts about yourself.
For example if you often think to yourself “I hate my body”, try to shift your focus towards slowing building up to loving your body. Bridge the difference between the two thoughts over time. You could change your thoughts to something like this: “I have a body. My body keeps me alive. I care about my body. My body is a good friend. My body is my best friend. I love my body”. This makes it easier to believe instead of just forcefully trying to jump from a sense of hate to a feeling of love.
So the next time you catch yourself dishing out the negative internal chit chat, shift your thoughts from negative to positive. Over time, you’ll start to notice a shift in the way you think and feel about yourself.
2. Practice speaking positively about yourself and your body.
Another powerful way to become more confident in yourself and your body is to practice positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are statements that work to assure us and build our self‑love and self‑compassion.
If you want to increase the love you have for yourself and your body, find some positive affirmations that really resonate with you and start to say them when you look in the mirror and get ready every morning or every night before bed. Some examples are:
“I accept myself completely as I am.”
“I am naturally beautiful when I am true to myself.”
“I love myself and my body.”
Say the words with conviction. You don’t have to say them loudly, but you do need to at least mouth them rather than just thinking them. Sure, it’ll be a little bit awkward at first, but in your own time and when you’re ready you’ll be amazed at how much love and acceptance you are capable of showing yourself. You are worthy of your own love!
3. When choosing what to wear, place your focus on the parts of your body that you like.
Where you place your attention is where your energy goes and where your emotions arise. This is not only relevant for your life in general, but also when it comes to your perception of your body and what you wear. If you always focus on the parts of your body that you aren’t as fond of or dislike, then all your energy goes towards thinking about those areas and that’s when emotions like anger, sadness and frustration may start to creep in. You are then more likely to dress in a way that is focused around hiding what you don’t like.
If instead you choose to shift your focus to those parts of your body that you like or love, then your thoughts will become more positive and your energy and emotions will shift towards a more loving and pleasant way of being. You are then more likely to dress in a way that highlights your attributes and makes you feel good about yourself.
If you find it hard to think of a part of your body that you love or like, don’t worry, you don’t need to start off big. It could be as simple as saying to yourself, “I really like my arms” or “I have a nice neckline”. Focus on those aspects that you do like and you’ll notice that you’ll start to worry less about those areas that you aren’t as joyous about.
Have you tried any of these exercises?
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*Fuentes, C.T., Longo, M.R., and P. Haggard. 2013. “Body image distortions in healthy adults.” Acta Pyschologica 144 (2): 344-351. doi.10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.06.012.