It is a challenging world we live in. We are constantly being told how to look. We are being flashed images of perfect-looking models and actors. The message is this: To be happy and have good relationships, you need to look great.
So what do you do when you realize that you may be having a body image problem or distortion? when you realise that you are placing undue importance on your looks and attaching it with your happiness? Here are some tips:
Treat them as just thoughts:
We internalise many things that we do not particularly follow. For example, how many times have you felt like leaving a boring class or meeting, but managed to stick around anyway? Similarly, the thoughts and feelings that you have regarding your body and looks can be treated as just a string of words, without letting them decide your attitude or behaviour. To help you become un-stuck from these thoughts, you can practice techniques like singing out your negative thoughts or talking out those thoughts in silly voices of cartoons. What this does is that it helps you see that your thoughts are just a bunch of words and whether you take them seriously or not is up to you.
Find out the values you care about and work on those:
If caring for your health is an important value for you, then binge dieting goes against those values. So, it’s a good idea to find out what your values are around self esteem and health. This reflection will help you to find out what values are important to you and whether you are acting incongruent to them. So ask yourself, what sort of values do you have as a person? What sort of things do you want to be remembered for when you die? Would you like people to say things like “She/he was a good person/a good friend” or that “she had a zero figure”? Most of the times, this helps us realise that looks are transitional. Once your values are clear, it can help you to use them as anchors to live your life.
Join a group and promote positive self image:
It can help if you can have a group to share with. You can make a body image support group. You can either get a psychologist or counselor to facilitate the sessions. Or you could just have a sharing and support group. It can be great validation for your concerns. You can also learn coping strategies from each other. Body image issues are such that you can find great hope in the fact that others are also on the same struggle that you are.
Sometimes, body image issues can persist due to some past problems. Or, you may not be able to manage the negative thoughts and images own your own. In that case, you can seek one-to-one therapy for your issues. You can click here for a free chat with a psychologist.
Head Psychologist at Type a Thought