Body Bliss: Turn Every Negative into a Positive

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Your thighs are too big. Those fat rolls on your stomach look disgusting. Your butt is as wide as a house. Your breasts aren't perky enough. Your arms need to be more toned. And since you're wondering, yes, that outfit does make you look fat.

You probably wouldn't dream of saying the things above to your friends, let alone your worst enemies! But you're probably guilty of talking like this to the most important person of all. Yourself.

Comments like these may enter your mind only occasionally if you're lucky. But for those who struggle with negative body image or poor self-esteem, these private thoughts occur dozens or even hundreds of times per day. No matter how often you talk down to yourself, the effect is always the same: It hurts you. And it sabotages your weight-loss efforts, your ability to stick to an exercise program, and your well-being, too.

We're all guilty of putting ourselves down sometimes—whether for your appearance, a mistake you made at work or an embarrassing moment. We would never stand for someone else talking to us the way we speak to ourselves on a regular basis. So what do you do about it?

I'm a pretty happy and confident person, but I'd be lying if I said that I never think negatively about myself. In fact, it happens more often than I'd like to admit. There was a time that I hid in oversized clothes, lamented about my body shape almost constantly, and couldn’t go anywhere without comparing my body to the other women around me. (Am I bigger? Is she thinner? Do my thighs look like hers?) I'm happy to say that I've improved in those areas and rarely think about my body or its size, shape or weight in a negative light anymore. It wasn't an easy thing to accomplish—it really took perseverance. One technique that helped me start down the path of self-love and body acceptance was to stop the negative self-talk dead in its tracks.

I know what you're thinking: That's easier said than done. After all, some people have a body image so low that they can't even think of a single thing they LIKE about themselves. Been there. Now, however, I can tell you lots of things that I like about my body. And at the very least, I know how to nip those negative thoughts in the bud before I let them get the best of me. You can do it, too. Here's how.

  1. Notice the negative. The first step is simply taking note each time a negative thought about your body, weight or appearance pops into your head. Often, we think these things so quickly and so often, that we don't really notice them or realize that they truly do affect us.
  2. Stop the thought. Once you notice that thought, stop it instantly. Don't even complete the sentence once you know where it's going. If the sentence(s) came to fruition, stop there. Don't let one negative thought turn into a laundry list of things you don't like about yourself.
  3. Spin it around. As quickly as you noticed yourself lamenting about your thighs, for example, talk back to yourself. I know that it's not easy to go from saying "I hate my thighs" to "I love my thighs," especially when you don't really feel that way. That's OK. Start by saying positive things that you really DO believe or know to be true.

    Start by being appreciative of your body as a tool for living your life—focusing on all of its amazing functions and strengths. When I start thinking my thighs are too big or not toned enough or whatever it may be, I talk back by focusing on all the positive things about them: "My thighs aren't here to impress others—they're tools for me to use to live my life to the fullest. My thighs are strong. My legs carry me through my day and my life. I'm fortunate to have legs that are able to walk, run, bike and do all the things I enjoy. I should appreciate my legs, including my thighs—for all the reasons that make them great—more often. And I reject the idea that I should change to fit in to some culturally stipulated idea that every person should look a certain way. Just like hair color or height, people's bodies are different sizes and shapes. I'm fine just as I am!"

Notice how I didn't go from "hating" something to "loving" it in a matter of seconds. Instead, I focused on the real facts and accomplishments, reminding myself that there are a variety of sizes and shapes—none of which are "right" or "wrong."

You can follow these steps and spin the negative into a positive for just about anything. Try it next time you put yourself down and I promise that not only will you feel better about yourself—almost instantly—but you'll really begin to believe what you say, think negatively less often, and go further away from "hating" a part of yourself and a lot closer to loving it. That also means that you're more likely to go to the gym to take care of that amazing body of yours; eat healthy because you know you deserve to feel your best; and reach your goals because you know that you're pretty great and that you can do anything you set your mind to!

How often do you say negative things about your body? Are you willing to give this technique a try?