In the weekly Guardian Newspaper Saturday magazine, there’s always an interview asking the same questions of some kind of personality or celeb. One of the questions asked each week is “which part of your appearance do you most dislike and why”…it’s always struck me as an unnecessarily negative question. But then I realised…we’re conditioned to dislike our bodies. Whole industries are pinned on our quest for perfection and dissatisfaction with what we are. It’s normal to dislike our bodies, and radical to like, or, dare I say love. Isn’t there something a bit off with that?
This photo above shows all the parts of my body that I ‘dislike’…and actually it’s really empowering to remove the charge of that dislike and just ‘be’ with them. This is me. It’s amazingly freeing to realise that the only person’s judgement that really truly matters is my own.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the focus is on Body Love. It shouldn’t be that hard, and yet it’s something the majority of us struggle with. But can you imagine how depleting it must be to our spirit, to have a constant soundtrack of dislike going round our heads? Here are some tips to turn it around. If not to loving your body overnight, to awareness that you can choose not to feel so much dislike.
Try to challenge your unkind thoughts
Do you automatically put yourself down, without even realising it? Commit to noticing your internal dialogue even just for one day. Do you notice a stream of unkind thoughts towards yourself and your appearance. If so, ask yourself, ‘Would I talk to, or think about, a friend in this way?’ If not, consider how you could turn around the way to talk to yourself, offer yourself the same generosity and compassion you would your friend.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Compare and despair is so easy in this hyper-connected world. Always remember that what other people share about their lives isn’t the full picture and comparing ourselves isn’t realistic. Never judge your behind the scenes with someone else’s final performance.
Get out of your head and into your body
Move. Breathe. Place your hand on your heart centre. The act of placing your hand there is received by the body as gentle soothing touch, as if someone else was comforting you. Enable this comforting to be for you, from you. And if that feels too silly or unavailable, move. Exercise is so beneficial for your mental wellbeing, so go out for a walk, move your bones, energise your blood. Noticing what your body does for you day in, day out can be one of the greatest ways into body compassion.
This is a biggie isn’t it. How often do you deflect compliments immediately, particularly where your appearance is concerned? Why not instead smile broadly and say, thank you! Make a note of them like a compliment log to browse when you’re feeling low or doubting yourself. Even more radical, how about writing a list of things you like about yourself. it doesn’t have to be physical, but it’s a good place to start, to foster an ability to look at yourself with kind eyes. What character traits do you admire about yourself? Your skills, beliefs, abilities?
Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year. Mind, the mental health charity is always on hand to provide information and support for anyone that needs it. This week is a great time to have a chat with a friend, family member or colleague and think about your wellbeing – it needs exercising just as much as your physical health.
You’re not alone.