Updated: Aug 27
“I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror.” When a client tells me this, it breaks my heart. It is a feeling all to familiar for many, but painful to hear. To feel such a disconnect from yourself that you advert your eyes when looking in the mirror or catching a glimpse of yourself after a shower can lead to that sinking feeling in your heart. I get it – I’ve been there too.
Let me tell you from experience, if you feel this way, it doesn’t matter how much weight you lose or how ‘toned’ you get, you will always find something to see in the mirror and hate. It’s the worst feeling and if this how you feel – I am so sorry and I promise you that there are ways to stop this way of thinking.
But it takes a mental change, not a physical one. One of the best things I’ve ever heard is that “You cannot heal a body you hate.” You cannot beat your body into the shape you want it to be, and you will never be happy with how you look physically if you don’t change the way you think about yourself. Yes, working out increases endorphins and can make you feel good, but for a lasting change, you have to change the way you think in general. Here are a few steps to get you started:
1. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself
It sounds cheesy but do it. It doesn’t have to just things you like about yourself physically, but include what you like about your personality, your accomplishments and creative abilities too. Guess what – all those things are a part of who are and you’ve been able to do because of the body you have right now. Writing these things down will help you get in the habit of speaking positively about yourself and will be there to reference when you have a bad day.
2. Write down all the things you are grateful that your body can do
Our body does so much for us without us even needing to think about it – how awesome is that?! We breathe, digest, remove toxins and respond to our environments automatically. Also, if you have the ability to walk, talk, and even read this post, these things should be on the list. When we come from a place of gratitude, seeing our bodies in a positive light is easier. It is also important to focus on the things you can do rather than the things you can’t do.
3. Think about where your insecurities stem from
We’ve been told by society and advertisers to remove our naturally growing body hair, have flat stomachs, get rid of “love handles”, not have hip dips, and to be acne/ scar free. This is just naming a few. We are taught to do dislike ourselves so we will spend money to “fix” it.
The idea of what a woman “should” look like has changed over time and the term cellulite didn’t exist until the 1980s. It’s all bullshit. We are made to feel bad about ourselves so we can spend money to fix it.
If you are still reading this, thank you. This was a very long way of me saying the way your body currently exists is enough. There is nothing wrong with you and you do not need to feel bad about all the natural things a body does.
4. Stop those negative thoughts in their tracks
How do you talk to yourself everyday? Are the things you say to yourself anything you’d say to a friend or a child? It’s these negative thoughts that happen every day that have the greatest impact on how we see ourselves. The first step to stopping this awareness – when you start to say something negative about yourself, recognize the thought and then think about how this thought makes you feel. It probably makes you feel bad, and why do you want to make yourself feel bad? It won’t accomplish anything.
Once you start recognizing your own negative thoughts, you can stop them and turn them into something more positive.
5. Develop Mantras or Positive Affirmations
Now that you can spot and stop the negative thoughts – you need to replace them with something positive. Some example mantras are below. It is also a good idea to start your morning by looking at yourself in the mirror and saying these positive things.
I am strong, beautiful, and deserve to be happy
I can do anything I set my mind to
I am whole and enough
I am beautiful and sexy
I look good and feel good
I am healthy and strong
I am brave
I am so happy to exist in this time and space
I will change the world
Did you realize this was a long read and just scroll to the bottom? It’s okay – I get it. Here’s an overview:
Body acceptance is an important aspect to your mental and physical health
You will never be happy with the way you look if you are always pointing out your own flaws
You have to make the mental shift to accepting the body you currently have first
There are several steps you can take to make this mental change:
Make a list of all the things you like about yourself
Write down all the things you are grateful that your body can do
Think about where your insecurities stem from
Stop those negative thoughts in their tracks
Develop Mantras or Positive Affirmations