Learning to Love Our Body
By Jessica Charbonneau, LCSW
We are creatures of habit. Some of these habits serve us well and some don’t. Just as we can be mindless about what we eat, we can also be mindless about how we look, and how we think about our bodies. Just consider this: We all tend to have that one place on our body that we dislike or we are just not satisfied with… a blemish or scar on our face… our hips…our waistline… or a wrinkle perhaps.
Whenever we walk by a mirror our eyes are immediately, instantly, drawn to that part of our body that we dislike. And before we know it our thoughts are going something like this - “there is that ugly blemish” or “there are my huge hips” or “I see my tired, old wrinkles”. Our eyes are magnetically drawn to these seemingly imperfect parts of our body. We do this instead of appreciating all of the other many parts that make us unique. In fact, we often automatically slip into this kind of judgmental and negative thinking. We use harsh descriptive words like “fat, ugly, old, and haggard”.
The good news is that we are not doomed to this way of thinking. We can train our brains to think differently. We can learn to love our bodies. It starts with awareness. These negative patterns are a lot like bad habits. We have usually been doing them for so long, we lack awareness that we can change them or that they even exist. We may possibly have been thinking some thoughts for so long we believe them to be true when THEY ARE NOT!
Start by spending a few moments in front of a mirror each day. Spend some time looking at yourself, really looking at yourself. Find things that you like about yourself: the color of your eyes, your full lips, clear complexion, strong arms, long neck. If you feel your attention drawn to that part of yourself that you have traditionally not been pleased with, challenge yourself to find different descriptive words to describe what you see – “my round, soft face”, “my curvaceous waistline”, “my athletic thighs”, “my graceful arms”.
This can be especially helpful for people who have sometimes lost significant amounts of weight and have dramatically changed their bodies, but because of old familiar behaviors, still do not appreciate themselves.
Believe in the power of purposeful change. If we work at challenging old habits and deliberately reconstruct our negative patterns, we can all learn to love the bodies that we have.