5 Ways We Develop Negative Self-Talk About Our Bodies —And How to Stop Them
By: Melissa Di Fonzo
Think back to the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror today. What kind of inner dialogue did you have? Was it kind and loving? Were you being critical at all, wishing you could change something about your appearance or body?
There are many things in our lives, some more obvious than others, that might be contributing to the negative self-talk we experience with our bodies. I have created a list of 5 major ones and have included strategies to combat them!
1. You eat based on your emotional hunger vs physical hunger.
When we turn to food for comfort or to help us deal with difficult emotions such as stress, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, anger and boredom, we are likely to reach out for the foods that are not nourishing for our bodies, either because they are being eaten in excess or because they are missing the nutrients that our physical hunger signals for. This kind of eating pattern often leads to feelings of regret, guilt, shame, and can even intensify the negative feelings you have towards your body.
One way to help you cope through the aftermath of an emotional eating episode is to distract yourself with a self-soothing activity that engages one or more of your 5 senses. For example, take a hot bubble bath or shower, go for a walk or drive and pay attention to the scenery. You might also want to slip into comfy clothing to help take your mind off the physical effects of overeating, such as bloating.
2. You’re not thanking your body for the pleasures it offers you.
It’s easy sometimes to focus only on the imperfections we perceive about our body. However, when we take time to pause and consider all the amazing things our bodies do for us, like gifting us with the ability to create another human life and giving us the strength to engage in the activities we enjoy, it’s hard to not feel grateful for the experiences our bodies give us!
A quick way to get in touch with the all the amazing things your body does for you is to write down a list of 5 things your body did that you’re proud of in the last six months. Using some art supplies you have laying around or simply a pen and paper, make a love letter to your body thanking it for allowing you to experience all those things you listed that you’re proud of!
3. Hanging onto that old pair of jeans that no longer fits with hope that one day it will.
Wishing you were a smaller size is sending yourself the message that where you are right now is not good enough. Embrace whatever shape your body is in today. Celebrate the way your body looks right at THIS moment. One way I like to do this is by wearing clothing that makes me feel good and highlights the parts I love most about myself. This is always sure to help bring out my inner confidence.
4. You compare yourself to your ‘skinny’ friends on social media.
Studies have shown that social media has a huge influence on one’s perception of themselves and their bodies, often leading to lower body satisfaction, especially for women. What we often forget, however, is that no one on social media is actually representing their “real” selves and many of the photos that you are comparing yourself to have been filtered and photoshopped!
Next time you’re on social media, notice whether or not you’re making any body comparisons. What are some of the thoughts and feelings that arise when you do? If you’re finding yourself feeling badly after a social media scroll, you might want to consider limiting or decreasing the amount of time you spend on it or join/follow things unrelated to physical appearances such as positive affirmations, nature, and animals.
5. You don’t know how to respond to your inner critic.
There’s a voice inside all of us that can be very critical of ourselves. We all experience self-judgments running through our heads criticizing ourselves for just about anything — not being good enough, smart enough, funny enough, successful enough — and unfortunately, our bodies are no exception.
Being able to catch yourself when you have a body shaming moment can be really helpful. One way I have learned to embrace my inner critic is by talking to it using self-compassion. When I notice a judgment come into my mind, I thank it for bringing itself to my attention and then respond to the critical thought in a similar way I would speak to a child that I care for very much.
A great way to compliment this self-compassion dialogue is by creating a list of positive affirmations about your body and post them on posted notes all around your home, including bedroom and kitchen. I find the more love and attention I give myself, through my actions and words, the kinder I am towards my body and the more nourishing food choices I make!