Two things to think about — the first one might be radically different:
1. Stop trying to like yourself more
2. Stop spinning thoughts about how much your hate your body over and over again
I know this will probably sound pretty wacky compared to how we normally talk about body image in the fitness world, so I’m super curious what you all think.
The more I study contextual behavioral science, the more I think we should:
— Focus less on being positive about our body.
— Focus more on the multitude of other things that we value in our lives.
— Recognize that it might be unrealistic in our pervasive diet culture to “love our bodies” every minute of the day. I don’t think that’s necessarily achievable. Maybe humans don’t love any part of their lives *every* minute of the day. It’s ok to be a human.
I think what’s really powerful is just noticing how many of our thoughts come from this diet based, “hate your body all of the time,” world. In noticing where those thoughts come from, we don’t have to treat them as being true. They’re just thoughts. ***They come from people who aren’t skillful enough or empathetic enough to make any kind of difference in our lives***
Meanwhile we can all reflect on the things that matter to us, like our families, our friends, our careers, our community, our hobbies, and take actions consistent with those things. That it’s about realizing all of the other things that matter to us, and being engaged and connected and building skills in those things.
I think it’s about having a bigger life.
We don’t have to change our thoughts, it’s normal to have unwanted and unhelpful thoughts. But we don’t need to treat them as the truth either. Not every thought that pops into our head is useful, and we should expect unhelpful and not useful thoughts to pop up sometimes. We can accept that those thoughts come up sometimes, and just let them be. Then, we can focus on a bigger context for our lives than just our bodies.
I think that fitness can be a really important and meaningful part of life for many people. I think it’s unhealthy to make it the most important part, or the only place we derive our value.
Three things I work on with clients that seems to help:
1. Notice unhelpful thoughts are normal.
Humans have unhelpful thoughts all of the time. If you’ve had them for decades, you’ll probably keep having them. We don’t have to fight them, we also don’t have to ruminate on them.
2. Noticing unhelpful thoughts and where they came from.
Accept them as being normal (in our diet obsessed world), instead of trying to change or fix them and love ourselves every minute. Diet thoughts aren’t true just because they popped into your head.
3. Focus on all of the different things that matter to us in life.
That non-profit you volunteer for, that really matters. The way you take care of your kids, that totally matters. The kind of friend you are, that really matters. The difference you make at work, that really matters. Learning and growing and developing skills, that really matters. Take actions consistent with what matter to you, what you stand for, and the kind of person you want to be. Reflect on what matters to you, weekly, and check to see if your actions line up with what really matters to you.
And yes, I know I just said the same three things, three times, three different ways
I’ve been working with clients from this perspective for a while, and it’s been working well. I hadn’t written about it though, because I’m was like “Who am I to write about body image?” It got a pretty positive response on Facebook, so I figured I’d post it here as well.
Anyway, I’m just going to throw this out there, since it may be different from what you’ve seen before. Something you might try on. If it works for you, cool. If not, no worries.