Bad body image days can happen to anyone, any time, no matter where they are in their body love journey. How we deal with them can help determine whether they are a minor irritation or a major setback.
In our final preview video for the Body Love Obstacle Course, Jeanette DePatie and I talk about an exercise that we use to deal with the days when we aren’t feeling the body love, and I wanted to share it with you here:
Step 1 – Find the Source
Figure out what body love obstacle or obstacles you are dealing with. Have you been consuming media that is designed to make you feel bad about yourself (fashion magazines, articles online with diet ads attached?) Or was it triggered by a conversation – maybe your co-workers diet and negative body talk, or a comment from your mom about you “looking older?” Or maybe it’s an illness or limitation that’s causing your relationship with your body to be strained?
Step 2 – Acceptance/Gratitude
Start to get yourself to a better place. Acknowledge and accept that you’re having a hard time with body love today and have compassion for yourself – living in a world that bombards us with messages that we aren’t enough and never will be makes it not that surprising that we would go through rough patches.
Next think of three things – any three things, no matter how small – that you can be grateful for, about your body. If all you’ve got is blinking, breathing, and heartbeat that’s fine. Just thank your body – really thank it – for whatever things you come up with. Try saying it out loud. Say it until you mean it. Then tell your body that you’re sorry that you’re having a hard time, and that you are trying as hard as you can. Then know for sure that your body has endless patience for this process, it’s not mad, you’ll get through this together and it’s all going to be alright, even if it takes some time. Stay with this step until you’re feeling a bit better.
Step 3: Over, Around, or Through
Now that you’re in a better place (even if just slightly) it’s time to think about how you can get over, around, or through the obstacles that created this situation. Make you need to take a break from body negative media. Focus on thanking your body for three things every day (or every hour if necessary!) Skip lunch with your coworkers, set some boundaries with your mom. Consider trying to re-frame an illness/injury etc. as you and your body against a problem, rather than you against your body.
It’s also absolutely reasonable to get pissed off at the ways that our culture is super screwed up around body image, self-esteem, and body size. Rage at the fact that this shouldn’t be happening. Remind yourself that it’s absolutely not your fault and it’s not fair that it has become your problem. Then do something that makes you feel good in your body whether that’s drinking a cup of your favorite tea or eating your favorite food, taking a long bath, gardening, sitting in nature, dancing around in your underwear, snuggling on the couch under a blanket, or something else.
Step 4: See the light at the end of the tunnel
Remember that the funk you are in is temporary, stay the course, and a better body day will be here before you know it.
Body Love Obstacle Course – Registration is Now Open!
I am so excited about this! The exercise above is from the final preview video for the Body Love Obstacle Course (BLOC.) The BLOC is a 10-week, proven, step-by-step program that will give you the coaching from nine amazing experts, the tools, and the community you need to create a rock solid foundation of self-esteem and body love, and teach you the strategies and skills you’ll need to leverage that to create the life you’ve always wanted no matter what obstacles the world puts in your way.
Our relationships with our bodies don’t happen in a vacuum, so just learning to see our beauty or love our bodies isn’t enough. On our journey to body love and amazing lives, the world throws obstacles in our way – obstacles that aren’t our fault, but become our problem. We’ll teach you practical, realistic, proven strategies to go above, around, and through the obstacles that the world puts in front of you, to get to the life you’ve always wanted.
Get all the details register (and get more free exercises like the one above from our free preview videos) at www.bodyloveobstaclecourse.com Early bird pricing ends at midnight on February 25th.
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10 thoughts on “Dealing With Bad Body Image Days”
My biggest obstacle is catching glimpses of myself in store mirrors while shopping, or seeing photos that people took. I’m always shocked at the huge discrepancy between the way I think I look and the way I actually look. It causes an immediate and strong depression and a lot of body hatred.
I totally hear you, and I have been there. If you are open to suggestions I might suggest spending some time looking at yourself in the mirror. Start small – thirty seconds, one minute. Spend the time being neutral if possible and if you start to have a negative thought interrupt it with a positive thought of gratitude (any thought of gratitude – “Thanks for breathing,” “Awesome job keeping our heart beating” whatever.) Build yourself up to maybe 5 minutes, and doing more gratitude statements/compliments until you shift from neutral to happy. Take as much time as you need. You could also have a friend do a photoshoot and/or gather pictures of you that you already have and create a slideshow, watch it each day and then try to think of a compliment for each picture. Anyway, just some ideas – feel free to ignore if they aren’t helpful!
That’s scary, but a good idea. I’m usually pretty comfortable/happy with myself in my mirror at home, but the unexpected glimpses are killer. Maybe I should stop running from them and do what you said instead. Thanks!
If you’re looking for suggestions, and what worked for me: This sounds weird, but it really helps me a lot. Your milage may vary.
I’m a Sims player. My favorite is The Sims 2, but I also like The Sims 3. In fact, for this, I recommend The Sims 3, or even 4, because of the improved body-slider options. Sims 2 has 3 set sizes, but Sims 3 and 4 have incremental sliders, and you can go from bean-pole to DEATHFATZ! It’s great! They even have separate sliders for muscles and fat, because you can be strong and fat, or thin and weak, and any permutation of them. Like in real life!
Also, note, in Sims 3, they incorporated the fact that you can diet and lose weight quickly, but if you don’t work really hard at it, every single day for the rest of your life, the fat WILL come back. Some players complain that it’s “unrealistic,” but they don’t know about that 95% of human beings doing exactly that – and believe the just-so stories. The Sims 3 programmers actually got it RIGHT! There’s much argument and controversy about this in some sims forums. However, this means that you can actually play yourself “dieting” and see the short- and long-term results. It really helped me come to accept the truth on that.
Create a Sim of yourself (we Simmers call it a Simself), and play it, over and over and over, in different situations. Save it and start a new game in a different neighborhood, but make sure the character fits YOU as closely as possible.
Now, watch as you go out there and do absolutely awesome stuff! Become a Hit Movie Composer! Or a Mad Scientist! Or have 20 Simultaneous Lovers! Or 26 children! Find a challenge that strikes your fancy, and play that until you win it.
Watching a pixelated version of yourself being more and more awesome as you do all that stuff, and making you laugh, and making you smile will help you feel better about yourself, in general. And seeing your simself in different clothes, hairstyles, make-up styles, etc,. helps you find a look that you enjoy, without spending oodles of money, while it similarly helps you get to really see the features underneath, that stay the same. I have really come to love the look of my simself, and that has helped me to love the look of my flesh-and-blood self, as well.
Just the other day, I looked at my simself and suddenly said, “Oh, wow! I’m gorgeous!” Then I looked in the mirror, with no make-up, hair a mess, and frumpy clothes, and saw that same face, and smiled, and said, “I’m gorgeous!” And I meant it.
This may not work for you. Maybe you hate PC games. But I definitely recommend some way of seeing yourself, either in pictures or videos or pixelated or even just drawings. But make sure it’s you being awesome! Doing cool stuff! It doesn’t have to be BIG stuff. Cool stuff could be you reading a book to a child, or cooking dinner for a family, or helping a little old lady across the street. But make sure these images are of things that really reflect you, who you are, and who you want to be. Things you do regularly (to reflect the reality right now), and things you hope to do in the future, or just wish you could do, if the laws of physics didn’t apply (my simself is a powerful good witch, for example). Get some real visuals of you fulfilling your hopes and dreams, both possible and impossible, and some visuals of you being a great person in just ordinary, everyday life. More and more visuals and more and more smiles, and eventually, you’ll probably learn to love yourself, even when you see yourself off-guard in the mirror. Because you’ll be seeing the you who is awesome, who does STUFF!
My stuff for today was to make someone laugh his head off. I was very entertaining. That was real! I made him smile! And knowing that makes ME smile. Now, if I can get my sim to do that, and take some pictures, I can have a nice permanent visual to look at, whenever I need help remembering that I have the power to make people smile and laugh, and enjoy a bit of happiness.
Another thing I like to do with my simself is an opposite kind of therapy – catharsis. Sometimes, I just really, REALLY want to tell someone off, or just smack them, and you know, that’s illegal. Assault and battery – not a good thing. So, I can use my simself to work out my frustrations (I have several neighborhoods, and in one such, my simself is an all-powerful queen/goddess who is very strict with her subjects.) It helps me work out my negative emotions without actually hurting anyone real, and I feel better.
Again, your mileage may vary. It just really did help me a lot. Plus, I can’t draw worth a bean, and I have very few actual photos of myself, so this is a good option for a non-artistic type.
Wow. Sorry that was so long.
Oh my gosh this is brilliant! I play the Sims all the time, but I always make sims that look really different than me, or sometimes an idealized version of myself rather than a realistic one. Wow – and I’m realizing how sad that is. I will definitely do this.
I read a lot of sims stories, and noticed that frequently, the players make their sims work out, just to lose fat, even if they’re struggling to reach other goals and don’t have time for it.
I have, therefore, sworn to myself that 1) I will never make my sims work out (the only way to lose size, in this game) unless they want to or need to, to reach a specific goal (even if that goal is to become thinner – THEY have to WANT it, not I), and 2) I will post stories featuring fat characters in lead roles. Sympathetic fatties! Yeah! And fat villains. And fat innocent by-standers. Thin, too. And in-betweenies. YAAAAY, variety!
In my two current Sims 3 stories (currently playing, nothing yet posted. but soon), I have fat females founders, and they are AWESOME!
Actually, your tip to think of my body as a friend has helped me a lot with dealing with the “bad days” (they tend to be less bad these days, but it’s a journey;-) – I realized at some point that there are characteristics in my dearest and closest “real” friends that absolutely annoy me sometimes. That does not make me love them less, I usually just wait for the feeling to pass, remembering the many wonderful things I know about them. I don’t need to love 100% of something (or someone even) 100% of the time to still deeply care.
I feel no shame in admitting that I would change 1-2 things about my body if I could – but since I know & have accepted that I can’t, I just let the annoyance about those 1 or 2 things pass and concentrate on the 100+ things I like & am grateful for.
THIS! I remember my parents teaching us kids that they loved us, they ALWAYS loved us, but right at the time, when we were being naughty or otherwise obnoxious, they didn’t like that about us. But they still and always loved us.
We forgive our children, and forgive our friends, and forgive our family and lovers and all, yet have such a hard time forgiving ourselves.
Humans are weird that way. There’s another thing we should forgive.
“Then tell your body that you’re sorry that you’re having a hard time, and that you are trying as hard as you can. Then know for sure that your body has endless patience for this process, it’s not mad, you’ll get through this together and it’s all going to be alright, even if it takes some time. ”
OK, our bodies are the absolute BEST significant others we could ever have. When we say, “Body, we need to talk,” the body neither panics or avoids us. It just sits there, patiently, and lets us talk. And it doesn’t judge us or blame us or get revenge because we hurt its feelings. Seriously, how many of us have relationships this good with anyone else? Then how can we hate such a partner? Our bodies are amazing!
Second – when you say “Skip lunch with co-workers” I’m thinking you mean “have lunch alone (with your awesome body – make it a date!) or with someone other than your body-judging co-workers.” But please don’t skip lunch. Unless you’re simply not hungry.
This BLOC sounds fantastic! Thanks, Ragen!
I struggle so hard with this – I zero in on the bumps and rolls. But I think it’s progress where once in a while, I look in the mirror and overall think I don’t look half bad. Considering where I’ve come from, I’ll take it….