So, You Want to Stop Hating Your Body

So%2C+You+Want+to+Stop+Hating+Your+Body

Nhi (Nina) Tran, Mental Health Editor/Contributing Writer, Mayer AZ

When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you love what you see? If yes, congratulations! If no, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

According to a study report, 53% of thirteen-year-old girls in America admitted they were “unhappy with their bodies,” and the percentage rises to 78% when they reached seventeen. Isn’t that alarming to imagine; 8 out of 10 teenage girls you know believe that they don’t look good enough?

As teenagers, we should not let the media and the beauty industry make us believe that we are not enough in terms of appearance, for this kind of mindset could be kept all the way to adulthood and take up a large portion of our lives. No one wants to live most of their lives in sorrow and insecurity, right? That is why I am here today, to bring you a guide on how to stop hating yourself and develop a more positive body image. The article will be a little long, so I hope you are devoted enough to start a journey to self-love and significant life changes to read this through.

Step 1: Identify the external sources leading to your insecurity

“There is hope that’s waiting for you in the dark / You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are / And you don’t have to change a thing / The world could change its heart”

Scars to Your Beautiful – Alessia Cara

Alessia is right. There is nothing wrong with you or anyone, it’s the judgemental society we live in is to blame. Your body is yours to own, hence you are the only person whose propositions about yourself truly matters. To achieve that, you need to identify the external sources leading to your insecurity. It’s just like studying a disease: in order to find a treatment for it, you have to know the causes first.

Let’s start with the people around you first. Think critically. Is there anyone who comments on you negatively? Are there people body-shame you behind your back? Do you compare yourself with anyone that you deem to be better?

Now, think broader. Do the pictures posted by influencers on Instagram affect your concept of a perfect body? Is the beauty standard in your culture what makes you feel not pretty? Be honest! Get a piece of paper and write down every external factor that influences you negatively. Remember to leave 2 lines before you jump to the next one. This is for our next step.

I know these are all troublesome questions to answer and admit, but let’s be frank here. The truth is terrifying sometimes. I know it’s ironic, but you have to be fearless in order to fight the fear. Trust me, it will be worth it. You will feel so relieved and thank yourself once you’ve overcome that fear and start fighting for change.

Step 2: Find a solution or reframe it

“Be more confident in your opinions about yourself than that of others”

Now you know the external factors that contribute to your insecurity, it’s time to find a solution for it. Before you claim that there’s nothing you can do with these issues, remember: we, as human beings, are never given anything that we cannot handle. If we can’t make the situation better, at least we can develop a better perception of it.

Under each listed factor is 2 lines (if you followed the previous instruction). I want you to think about and answer these two questions:

–       In what way does it affect me? Can I change it?

–       What can I do about it?

Not sure how to answer the second question? Here’s an example. If you realize that the posts you saw on Instagram make you feel unconfident, you can unfollow those sources or take a break from social media. If your family or friends mindlessly comment on you negatively, try to be frank with them about your feelings and ask them to stop. See how it works? If the factors are controllable, try to come up with a smart solution for it.

Now, those are the controllable things. How about the uncontrollable ones, like the mean people at school or the beauty standard?  What can you do about those?

Since the situations, or the people, cannot be fixed, the only thing we can work on is ourselves: not our body, but our mindset and our perceptions. Try to come up with a smarter and more constructive way to think about that destructive self-talk. For example,

Instead of: “I wish I was that pretty,” say “I am pretty in my own way. I don’t need any beauty standard or applause to prove it”

Instead of: “They say I can never become something, maybe they’re right,” say “Who cares what others say? Becoming that or not, it will solely be my decision and effort, they have no right to determine what I could be.”

See how it works? The situations do not change at all, but your focus is shifted from the external factors to yourself. You stop feeling despair and hopeless not because you claim the situation can be better, but because you realize that you, yes, YOU, can be better!

Remember, this practice won’t yield fruit in a day or two. Finding solutions can be done in one way, but making those solutions work and maintain their effects will take time, lots of time. Be patient, have some faith in yourself, and believe that you will start feeling more self-confident someday.

Step 3: Let’s Talk about You

Now that you have, or in the process of eliminating all the affecting external factors, it’s time for step 3. This step is similar to step 1 and 2, but now, your focus will be on you and just you only.

Before you start, make sure your mind is still and free from any disturbing thought. You should do this when you just woke up or when you’re unwinding from a busy day. There are plenty of ways to calm your mind, such as meditating, exercising, and listening to soothing music.

Now, I want you to look at yourself in the mirror, naked if possible, and scrutinize yourself. Be brave! It’s alright if you don’t like how you look right now, but be patient, we are going to work on it.

After carefully scrutinizing your body, think about all the things that you don’t like about it and be as honest as possible. Like I said earlier, the truth might be scary sometimes, so just try your best! Get a piece of paper and do like in step 2. For each factor, answer 2 questions:

–       Why don’t I like it?

–       What can I do?

For question 1, if your answer is caused by one of those external factors that you just identified, it’s time to let it go. This will take time. Try to use your logical sense to talk yourself out of this negative self-talk. Remember, your body is yours to own, hence you are the only person whose propositions about yourself truly matters. You don’t like your muscular arms? It must be very easy for you to carry heavy stuff. Your skin is too dark? You must look so good in vibrant color clothes. Remember, your body parts don’t just have one job is to look good, don’t forget how it has served you ever since you were born.

On the other hand, if you know those parts could be improved, come up with a strategy and commit to making it happen. Getting more sleep at night? Consuming less Coke? Not touching your face often? Whatever it is that will help you gradually become the best version of yourself. Remember, in order for a goal to be achieved, it has to be S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Relevant, and Time-based.

Alright, nice work so far! And thank you for still reading.

Step 4: Affirmation

Now that you have had everything figured out, or at least in the process of it, it’s time to summarize the solutions so you can review it later. Let’s convert those into affirmations.

Affirmation is “the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that ‘a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything.’”

Come up with your own affirmations and write it down somewhere easy to look at daily. You could make a poster hanging in your room or wallpaper for your phone. My affirmations look something like this:

  • Stop trying to be perfect
  • Start working on who I want to become
  • Start moving on from what no longer makes me happy
  • Start committing to my goals and don’t give up

Simple, right? Just make it concise.

Step 5: Practice positive affirmations and mindfulness every day.

Now you have your affirmations, you can’t just leave it there and never look at it again. Review them daily, before you start the day and/or when the day almost ends.

Take this practice as a daily habit, like showering or brushing your teeth. One showering won’t leave you “clean” your whole life, nor do these affirmations. Being reminded won’t make you feel more secure and confident in the long term, so make sure to view them often.

It won’t hurt if you skip a day or two, but be as consistent and patient as possible. Trust me, you will definitely thank yourself someday.

 

These are the five steps to renew your mindset and have a more positive body image. Remember, this won’t work in a day or two, because the practice requires daily review and patience and devotion.

You are the only person who could make your life, or your mindset, better. Be responsible enough for yourself to really commit to making changes and improving yourself. Good things never come easily, but I know you will be strong and determined enough to make it happen.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it!