The media often bombards us with subtle and not so subtle messages about what we should do to perfect our bodies. There is everything from tips, programs, products, procedures, and more that we rely on to help us achieve our ideal appearance. While this is not all bad, as many things are not all good or all bad, these ways of modifying our bodies can often be attributed to a deep dissatisfaction with ourselves and our inability to accept ourselves the way we are. This is where the true problem lies. So how do we learn to love and embrace our bodies? I have outlined five ways we can work on doing just that in a world where we are often told we will never be good enough.
1. Focus on what you DO LIKE about your body.
It does not matter how big or small it is, finding anything you do like about your body and focusing on that will help improve your overall acceptance of yourself. Do you like your smile? Your eyes, dimples, legs, freckles, etc.? Setting the spotlight on what you do NOT like will only leave you feeling defeated and hopeless. Therefore, you can make the active choice to focus on what you do like and improve your vision of yourself.
2. APPRECIATE what your body does for you.
Your body does a lot for you. Some things you cannot see or do not even realize. Your body helps you see, walk, run, digest food, create things, and infinitely more. What do you appreciate about your body?
3. Show your body PATIENCE.
Your body is constantly changing. Sometimes it changes because you choose to do something different, and sometimes it changes on it’s own. Sometimes you may want your body to look a certain way or do certain things and you may get frustrated when you do not receive the results you are looking for. Having patience with your body means allowing the time it takes for your body to do what you are asking of it. Are you frustrated that your acne is not healing fast enough? Are you feeling down on yourself because you cannot climb that flight of stairs to your door without getting out of breath? Do not fret! If you continue to do what you can to help your body achieve your goals, have a good attitude, and practice patience along the way, you will see improvements.
4. Dress your body in YOUR STYLE.
You might find yourself enthralled in the next new trend or saying, “I like it but, I don’t think it would look good on me.” Being hung up on what everyone else is doing with their hair or wearing to work can be a good and bad thing. It is good if the new thing is something you genuinely like and want to do or wear, but if you are only doing it or wearing it because everyone else is, then you lose a part of your individuality. With that, when you put yourself down and say that something will not work on you or look good on you, you tend to put more stock in how others will view you instead of in how you view yourself. So find your own style, dress yourself in what you think looks good, and do not worry about the rest.
5. ACCEPT what you cannot change about your body.
There are things about your body that you just cannot change without taking extensive and often expensive, dangerous, and painful action. Do you wish you were taller or that your nose was smaller? Have you always wanted a different complexion or hated the appearance of your wrinkles? Remember this: even if you do manage to go to extreme measures and change your body, you may still feel unsatisfied or you may have difficulty coming to a point where there is not something else you want to change. Therefore, learning to accept what you cannot change is often your best bet when it comes to discovering how to embrace your body.
Well there you have it, five ways you can learn to love and embrace your body. So please remember, your body is a gift. Treat it with kindness and respect.
Katrina Bruns is a licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in helping individuals, couples, and families cope with and heal from mental health concerns including but not limited to anxiety, depression, trauma, body image issues, grief, and more. Prior to moving to New Mexico and joining A New Hope Therapy Center, Katrina practiced social work in her home state of Iowa. Katrina is thrilled to be here and enjoys hiking and exploring nature, spending time with her husband and pets, and traveling!