So many women I meet express how they’ve lived most of their life disliking or hating parts of their bodies and I get it! I did that for most of my life too.
It affects our confidence, self-esteem and self-image and it stops us from having the freedom to be ourselves and express who we are.
Body acceptance is about accepting our body even when we hate it or dislike it. It means accepting our body even though it’s not perfect. It’s about feeling a sense of peace, contentment and security within ourselves.
How do we start rebuilding and repairing our low self-esteem?
I wonder if you've ever had a moment where you looked back on an old photo and thought “what was I so worried about?”. You probably wish you could have that body back, right? Or maybe you wish you were more grateful back then?
What’s interesting is that photos often don’t capture how we feel on the inside. We just smile for the camera and look happy.
We learned to hide our true feelings and our struggles. To only show the world what we learned was "acceptable". Over years we adapted to cover up our insecurities because we were afraid of being judged and criticised.
I love what Edward Steichen said, "A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it".
This makes me think about what is even real. Most people are only showing the parts they think will be liked. This means we can end up comparing ourselves to a false reality, to unrealistic expectations. What we don't realise though is that we are all unknowingly perpetuating the cycle because we are scared to be vulnerable and show others how we feel on the inside. We are not being ourselves. We are trying to be perfect and we've lost the connection to feeling good enough as we are.
We’ve become what everybody else needs us to be, and what we think we need to be. We find ourselves needing external validation to gauge our worthiness. In turn, we lose confidence and trust in our own judgement. We develop low self-esteem because it’s based on how others value us. We end up always trying to please others because we worry what they think of us. All in the pursuit of feeling loved and accepted.
This can get tiring. We feel like we have no control and we’re in constant pursuit of feeling good enough, and sacrificing ourselves, but we never feel good enough.
Seeking approval, acceptance and love outside doesn’t last because it’s missing on the inside. We haven’t truly connected to it within ourselves yet.
So how do we find acceptance when we feel hate towards ourselves?
Wayne Dyer said, “change the way you look at things and the things you look at change”.
I love this quote because for so long we’ve looked at our bodies through a false narrative. We’re blind to the truth and unable to see our true beauty.
The problem is not how we look, the problem is our perception about how we think we look. So, how do we change our perception?
Perception is our interpretation and understanding of experiences we have in life, and the meaning we give it. Throughout our life we gather information, stories and ideas about the world and ourselves.
We learned what to value, what mattered, what was important, what was right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, and there were many rules.
We developed an idea about ourselves, about our bodies. We weren’t born hating our bodies but at some point we learned it wasn't right, or good enough or perfect and so we decided the way we are is not okay. We learned then to modify ourselves to avoid that feeling of inadequacy.
From these kinds of experiences we develop patterns. Thoughts such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’m ugly” become triggers for certain behaviours. We may decide to hide our body to protect ourselves from possible criticism, judgement and humiliation. We may feel emotions such as shame, disgust or hate so we try to fix and perfect our body so we don't have to feel those emotions. Or maybe we eat unhealthy food to cover up how we feel.
Our patterns are always running in the background unconsciously, causing us to react to current situations that may be similar to past experiences.
The key to changing how we react is through awareness. When we develop awareness around our thought loops we can start directing our life in a different way. We can start looking at ourselves through the lens of truth, understanding and acceptance.
When we understand why those loops are there, how they have served and protected us and what their purpose is, we can change them. A beautiful new view can be seen, as though we've put on a new pair of glasses to reveal what was always there. We can now make different choices and we can start to change our perspective of ourselves and how we feel about our bodies.
As Tuli Kupferberg said,"When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge".
When we see ourselves in a new way we become more open and authentic. We treat our body well and we respect and honour it. We learn to meet our own needs and appreciate who we are as a whole person.
When we are vulnerable with our flaws and accept, honour and acknowledge why we are and who we are, we can start to reconnect to our true nature and express our body and ourselves in our own way.
If you would like to learn more about how I can support you in developing a healthy body image, click on the link below and book in for a free chat!
"Love your body to health"