If you're like most women, this time of year brings about a lot of body image concerns and anxiety. (Swimming suits anyone?) Adrienne C. Laursen, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of The Engagement Coach, shares tips for women on building a healthier relationship with their body, and how to overcome negative thinking patterns related to body image.
Build a better body image in 4 steps:
1. First and foremost, you're not alone!
Negative body image isn't just a problem for overweight women. Women of all shapes and sizes struggle with negative body image concerns, and even the skinniest girl can point out something she's unhappy with in regards to her weight or a particular section of her body. Interesting fact: Only 2% of women in the world are classified as supermodels. 2%! Yet these are the standards of beauty we're subjected to on a daily basis.
It's also important to note that there is a name for what we're talking about today. It's called Body Dysmorphic Disorder and it refers to those who are extremely critical of the image they see in the mirror, of their physique or self-image, even though there is no noticeable defect apparent to others.
2. Pay attention to your negative "self-talk"!
The key to changing negative thought patterns is to first become aware that you're doing it, and more importantly, how OFTEN you're doing it. Once you're able to catch yourself in a negative "self-talk" pattern, you can start to replace those negative statements with positive or neutral ones. It's really about training your brain to think differently about yourself. Also be sure to pay attention to the words you're using and try to eliminate the harshest/hateful ones. Example: Instead of saying, "My thighs are absolutely disgusting!" adjust it to say "I'm unhappy with the size of my thighs but my hair looks great."
3. Dress for your body NOW!
Stop waiting until you're 10 lbs thinner to go shopping. If your clothes are too small, or even too big, you're dressing in a less than attractive manner for no reason. Your clothes and appearance should be the best it can be at any weight, shape and size, so stop giving yourself reasons to be negative. Dress the way you want to look NOW, and if you lose the weight in a few months, great! And if you don't, well then you haven't walked around looking like a bum for no reason.
4. Find ONE thing you genuinely like about yourself!
If there's just ONE thing you like about yourself, focus on that to build a more positive self-esteem and body image. And if there's more than one thing, great! The next time you look in the mirror, I want you to start with the positive. Make it a rule. . . you can't say anything negative about yourself until you've addressed the positives first!
For more information on Adrienne's counseling services and free relationship tips, please visit her website at www.TheEngagementCoach.com.