Have you ever considered that the way you see your body can affect the way you view the world? When we see ourselves in a negative light, that often translates to how we view our opportunities, social life, and more. If you find yourself having negative thoughts about yourself, you’re not alone. In fact, roughly one-third of people feel anxious or depressed about their bodies.
Learning to develop a body-neutral mindset can improve the way you see yourself and the world around you. However, it’s important to keep in mind that viewing yourself in a negative way probably took years to master, so it won’t be easy letting go of the habit. To keep yourself motivated, consider setting goals with a friend or adopting a pet to help boost your mood when you get discouraged.
Body Neutrality: What is it?
Body neutrality is the act of viewing your body based on the ways it serves you, rather than the way it looks. With a body neutral mindset, instead of looking at your arms and saying “I love my arms, despite the fact that they aren’t as toned as they used to be,” you can look at yourself and think, “I love my arms because they help me cook, and cooking is my favorite thing to do.”
How to Develop Body Neutral Views
Overcoming negative feelings toward your body can take time and a lot of effort. Because of this, be careful not to criticize yourself for not doing so perfectly. There will be times you fall back into old habits, but it’s the choices you make after messing up that make the biggest difference.
1. Listen to Your Body’s Needs
Whether you’re one of the 57% of Medicare beneficiaries who suffers from high blood pressure or you’re out running marathons every weekend, listening to your body can help you develop greater compassion for what it can do. It can be tempting to feel the urge to work out in order to work off the calories you just ate, but if your body doesn’t feel well, you shouldn’t push yourself to do so.
Instead, practice listening to your body’s needs. When you feel the urge to get up and move, do so. When your body is craving a certain food, satisfy that desire without thinking about how the food will impact your weight.
2. Avoid Body Talk
Talking about your body (or anyone else’s) will only drive you to think about its physical appearance or inability to function in a way someone else’s can. To really establish a body neutral mindset, avoid participating in conversations focused only on the element of physical appearance.
3. Repeat Body-Neutral Affirmations
Repeating affirmations can help develop muscle memory in the brain that can be exercised when faced with a tough decision (like running another mile even if your body says it’s done for the day).
Print out the affirmation cards linked to below and hang them on your bathroom mirror so you see them often!
Developing a strong body-neutral mindset takes time and patience, but it’s not impossible. Taking the time and putting forth the effort to change the way you view yourself can help you stop being so hard on yourself and start living your life for yourself, rather than for what other people expect of you or your physical appearance.