How to Accept the Body You Have
Let's face it. The pressure to have a perfect body is enormous in our society. Airbrushed and digitally manipulated photos of stick-thin models bombard us daily and reinforce one specific portrayal of "ideal" beauty. The problem is, most of us are just not built like those who grace the covers of magazines.
Still, so many of us fall into the trap of wishing our bodies looked different, and actually getting to the point of hating our bodies. Sadly, we buy into the idea that there is a "perfect" body out there somewhere and we are defective and worthless if we don't have it.
Hating your body, and not accepting it as it is, makes for a tortuous and unhappy life and can lead to a variety of unhealthy behaviors, up to and including full-blown eating disorders.
But is there a way to make peace with yourself and love your body right now, just as it is? In this article we will discuss 4 methods for how to accept the body you have.
Number One: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
It seems like simple advice, but if you really take this on, you can greatly impact the way you feel about yourself and your body. One of the biggest sources of discontent with our bodies is comparison to others. Stop it!
If you think about how insane this thought process is, it becomes easier to nip it in the bud. Just like the old adage, "it's like comparing apples to oranges," comparing ourselves to others does nothing beneficial. In fact it drains us and makes us feel disempowered. Because the truth is apples are not inherently better than oranges, they are just different. We may prefer apples over oranges, or vice versa, but there are wonderful things about apples just as there are about oranges. We can enjoy them both. Similarly, we can focus on the special things about ourselves that set us apart from others without making ourselves "worse than," "uglier," or "not as good" as someone else. We can enjoy being an "apple" while allowing the other person to be an "orange."
Number Two: Actively Notice the Positives
Another damaging thing we do to ourselves is to buy into the idea that there is a perfect body and we should have it. The truth is, no body is perfect. All will have flaws and things we don't love. But that doesn't mean we can't love ourselves overall. One way to enhance our body acceptance is to actively focus on those aspects of oueaselves we do love.
Maybe you have lovely hands, or your eyes are bright and beautiful. Pick one thing and start small if you need to. Every time a negative thought comes up about something you don't like about yourself, immediately switch the thought and recall an aspect you do like. Build an ever-growing list and find aspects of each part of your body to appreciate. Post it so you will see it every day. Making a regular practice of actively noticing the positives about yourself will increase your self esteem and make it easy to accept the body you have.
Number Three: Halt the Inner Critic
Here's a thought: You don't have to believe everything you think! Have you ever been involved in a negative story you are telling about yourself in your head but then when you say it out loud it sounds ridiculous? We tend to make things bigger and more horrible in our minds. We can be downright mean to ourselves. We say things in our heads that we'd never say to another person – so why is it okay to say such things to ourselves? We are people too!
Many of us have a very strong negative voice, the inner critic that always has something nasty to say. It is the voice that tells us how bad, worthless, and ugly we are. It's the voice that fuels self hatred and loathing of our body.
But the truth is, we don't have to believe this voice! We can stop paying attention to it. We can even talk right back to it!
For instance, if you catch yourself going into the comparison mode and your inner critic says something negative, you can say "Stop!" and pick another thought, one that serves you and more lovingly supports you. You can pull out your list of positives and tell the inner critic things you do like about yourself.
Number Four: Focus on Health
Again, the trick is shifting your focus. When you focus on having a healthy body, and what your healthy body can do, you can begin to enjoy your body as it is and accept it. We are meant to enjoy life and our bodies. Our bodies are how we live in this world and can experience all it has to offer. When we focus on how we feel, what we are experiencing, rather than how we look, we are able to be fully present. We can feel good in our healthy bodies, no matter what they look like or how they compare to the bodies of others.
Focusing on health empowers you to make better choices to support your body and yourself. Rather than being demoralized and immobilized by not having a "perfect" body, we can instead set health-related goals and work to achieve them. We can then take pleasure in our physical abilities, how our bodies move, and what we can do with them.
If you begin to implement these four strategies into your daily routine, you can quickly come to accept the body you have and foster a positive body image. Remember, it is a life-long practice, but with daily effort, you can come to accept the body you have.