I figured since the summer months are upon us and everyone is shouting "Hot Girl Summer," that we'd touch on what most of us struggle with or have struggled with before. And that, my friends, is body image. For me, body image was something I wrestled with constantly and to be honest, still do at times. I used to obsess over it. In fact, most of my middle school years were spent on the "Special K Diet" and crying to my mother almost nightly about how "fat" I thought I was. To be that young and have such negative thoughts about yourself can be catastrophic to your mental health. Fortunately for me, my mother was a saint and did nothing but comfort me and attempt to build me up. In that sense I believe I was lucky, but not everyone has that positive reinforcement in their lives. Honestly, sometimes sadly that isn't enough. I would admit that it wasn't enough for me either.
Women and men suffer from eating disorders, social anxieties and trauma in regards to their body image and self esteem. Sure, it's normal to have insecurities. The problem is when some of those insecurities aren't healthily managed. If not managed correctly, the problems have potential to spiral into unhealthy and unrealistic expectations for yourself. When I allow myself to feel those feelings and surrender to my emotions it is important for me to have some sort of control, do not allow yourself to drown in those negative feelings. You must pull yourself out, acknowledge those feelings and attempt to soothe and work through them in a more productive fashion. Yes, I do mean ways that don't involve comparing yourself to others, scrolling through social media for the latest diet fad or doing obsessive amounts of mindless cardio. I'm talking about ways that give healthy releases. By re-connecting with yourself and discovering the true root of the issue you are then able to heal as a whole.
I find that forgiveness can be a difficult emotion and reaction to find. However, once you have found the will to forgive, you are now able to release that negativity you've always held onto. Ask yourself for forgiveness from those you have hurt in your past
(say it out-loud or in your mind, this exercise is for clearing the heart), but also forgive others for the harm they may have caused you, both intentionally or unintentionally. Forgiveness is a super power, you are taking that trauma you've held deep inside and contorting it into something you can use for good and acceptance. Once that trauma and self loathing is transformed, you are then able to put it into action. If you are finding it difficult to take this step, perhaps try starting with a positive affirmation. I love a good positive affirmation, let me tell ya. Repeating an affirmation three times in my head solidifies it for me. One of my go to's is "I am worthy, and I forgive you." The "you" not only embodies others, but also yourself! Believe that you are important and deserve relief.
Creating space for joy can help to release the flood gates of negativity as well. Surround yourself with good energy, people that lift you up and activities that stimulate your mind. Art, physical exercise, music, mindful meditation and being out in nature are all great ways to let in more joy into your life.
Note to self: Allow more joy into my life by setting aside time daily to be in nature. *Fresh air is a great release for you.
Appreciate what your body can already do! Your body is a work of art that is constantly doing amazing things daily. I mean, breathing is pretty damn cool. Walking, boy, is that underrated. You are able to do so many things already! Create a gratuity list of things that you appreciate about your body and what it does for you daily. Focus on those things when you are feeling mentally defeated. Next, write down three things that you would like to improve on. Whether it be learning to love your curves or being active for 30 minutes daily, it is completely up to you. No task is too small or large. Select the most important item on that list and begin taking small steps toward that goal. If you are unsure where to start, health coaches are a great reference and tool. Sometimes, counseling or seeking medical advice is also a route that can be taken. Embrace that process and recognize that you are doing it and taking the steps to better yourself! You've made excuses for yourself before, don't be the reason you allow yourself to continually feel like shit (you've got to be blunt sometimes, however, the intention comes from a loving place). Take that step, be the reason you learned to love your body and yourself as a whole. Respect yourself and honor the process.
Again, we all feel insecure at times, we are all on our own body image journey. Be supportive to others, and also be that positive force for yourself. Show up for the journey and realize there will be good and bad days. Positive body image is not always simple, however, taking small positive steps can get you closer to that peace you are looking for.
Create good intentions for yourself & remember to breathe deep, you are worthy.
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