I just read a poll that revealed what i guess most women and girls already know. We can judge our bodies very harshly. At times, we are our own worst enemy. According to the poll, 97% of women experience daily “I hate my body thoughts.” On average, 13 of these negative thoughts pop up a day, according to the poll. If this sounds all too familiar, don’t give up hope.
While most women would agree that they struggle with “I hate my body” thoughts, keep this fact in mind. Women who frequently look at magazine and media images of thin women tend to judge themselves more harshly, so maybe reading those magazines and surfing through all those pictures on the web is actually making you feel worse?
What most of us want is for these negative thoughts to go away. Just vanish! But, realistically, these thoughts will pop in your head whether you like it or not. The mindful way to cope is to 1) respond rather than react to these thoughts and 2) actively work on self-acceptance. This is the crux of why I decided to write this blog.
A negative reaction to a thought like “I’m so fat” happens when you allow it to spiral into other things you don’t like about yourself–”I hate my bum,” “no one would ever find me attractive,” “I can’t stand how I look blah, blah, blah.” In other words, you feed into the thoughts like throwing fuel on a flame. Or, you can let the thoughts just burn out on their own. When you don’t feed into them with more knit-picking at yourself sometimes these thoughts lessen and can even fade away.
Rather than hear those thoughts we can beat ourselves up maybe through; starving, binging, purging, over exercising, cutting, picking all the things things we do to zone out of the negative thoughts. So here are my four tips too help you deal with those thoughts and move on:
1) Notice: When a negative thought pops into your head like, “I’m so fat.” Give yourself a gentle nudge and say in a calm and kind way, “There is that negative thought again.” The temptation may be to judge the thought–”How could I think something so terrible?” Allow the thought to be what it is without judgement. Say, “It is what it is.”
2) Where? Ask yourself, “where did that thought come from?” Typically, the thought doesn’t arrive out of the blue. There is often something else that is bothering you that gets translated into a negative thought about your body. For example, although it seems like quite a stretch, a stressful day can evolve into worry about your thighs.
3) Let It Go: Actively let the thought go. Imagine that negative thought sitting on a cloud and letting that cloud float by you. Your job is to let it go by without trying to reach out, grab the thought, analyse it, wrestle with it or the like. See it. Let it pass. Remember that if someone throws you a ball, you don’t have to catch it. Similarly if you have a thought, you don’t have to take it and accept it as fact.
4) Acceptance: Intentionally place your attention to more affirming thoughts. Notice that they may not be “positive” thoughts like “I like my body.” Sometimes this is too great of a stretch for us girls. Work on self-acceptance statements like “I accept my body as it is.” “My body is healthy.” “I appreciate what it does for me.” Focus on neutrality, judgement and ultimately compassion toward yourself and struggles with your body. It might be hard at first but it will get better and better.
Stop letting your harsh inner critic get the best of you. Negative thoughts about your body will happen. But, it doesn’t have to overwhelm or divert your attention away from other important things. When you have “I hate my body” thoughts, practice responding mindfully. Eat, Drink & Be Mindful! We are all beautiful!