But I Want Yours!
“I wish my hair was curly like yours!”
“No way!!! I wish I had beautiful straight hair like yours!”
This conversation is almost universal. It seems that we all want what we don’t have—or perceive that we don’t have. Whether it be straight or curly hair, blonde or brunette, blue-eyed or brown-eyed, tall or short, full-figured or thin, everyone seems to want what someone else has.
The problem with this phenomenon is that it leads to a negative body image. Instead of seeing yourself as beautiful, you see yourself in a negative way. You focus on what you don’t have instead of what you do have. This kind of comparison to others always leaves you feeling badly about yourself.
Why Does It Matter?
Having a good body image is good for your health. When you feel good about your body, you can feel good in other areas of your life. It works the same way with a negative body image—a bad image leads to feeling bad in other areas of your life. In fact, a negative body image can lead to many different problems such as:
- Emotional distress
- Low self-esteem
- Eating disorders
- And more
If you have a negative body image, you are not alone. And it is no wonder. Television commercials, print ads, movies, and even children’s toys bombard the population with the “perfect” body image—typically quite thin and young. These advertisements lead you to believe that if you aren’t the perfect shape, you will not find happiness, love, money, health, or enjoyment.
This message couldn’t be farther from the truth. You don’t need to have your body be a perfect shape—instead, you need to have a healthy body. And guess what? There is no perfect shape for health!
You don’t have to change your body to be happy. Instead, you simply need to change your mind!
Although this may take a bit of time and training, it is possible. And the outcome will be well worth the effort.
The first thing you need to do is realize that you have a unique body. There is not another one in the world that looks just like yours. Even if you are an identical twin, there will be some differences, no matter how small. Your unique body is your very own. No advertisement or friend or even family member can tell you what your body should be like. In the end, you only have to satisfy yourself. Yet still—this is no easy feat!
So the next step is to learn to stifle those negative thoughts. It is tempting at this point to try to come up with excuses for why this simply isn’t possible for you. If you catch yourself thinking in “Yes, but” terms, such as “Yes, but my unique body is too thin” or “Yes, but my unique body is too heavy” or “Yes, but those women in the advertisements really ARE beautiful” then you need to know that those “yes, buts” are bad news! They are nothing more than negative self-talk, and they will never get you to your goal of healthy body esteem.
Simple Steps for Increasing Positive Self-Talk
The only way to get rid of negative self talk is to replace it with positive self talk. Let’s learn how.
- First, become aware of what you are saying to yourself each day. How many “Yes, buts”? How many negative things? The best way to figure this out is to write down what you say to yourself for a few days.
- Now, take that list of negatives and write down a positive thought to replace the negative one. Be very specific. For example, if you said, “I hate the way I look. Everyone that sees me thinks I am ugly.” The positive could be something like, “I accept the way I look and focus on being the best me I can be.”
- Your list will now have what you say most often to yourself as well as new things to say instead. It is time to cross out the negatives! Use a dark marker and cross through each negative thought while reminding yourself that you are choosing to think different thoughts from this moment on.
- Read your positive statements several times every day. If you find that you have a negative thought in your head, simply tell yourself “STOP!” Then replace it with the positive thought you now have. If a new negative thought arises, write it down, come up with a positive and realistic thought to replace it, and then cross out the negative. Over time, the negative thoughts will happen less and less often and the positive thoughts will come to you effortlessly.
How you feel about yourself is something you CAN control. It is all up to you. Rather than see yourself through the eyes of a world overly-fixated on an artificial and narrow standard of body shape and size, see yourself through your own eyes and be happy with what you see. You can do it and you will be happy that you did.
Kimberly Krueger, MSW, LCSW is a therapist and the founder and director of Southlake Counseling and The Center for Self Discovery in Davidson, NC. Kimberly may be reached at email@example.com. This article may be used but original content must be kept in tact and full credit must be given to author, including contact information.