Body Positivity And Therapy
The perception you have of your own body is your body image. In today’s society, we are often coerced into believing that we can only be considered to be attractive if we’ve got clear skin, an ideal shape and a thin body. For many of us, this just isn’t the case. When we fail to hit the high physical standards that we set for ourselves, or that we believe society has set for us, we can end up getting into a downward spiral of self-loathing and hatred of our own bodies. As a result, we end up unhappy, dieting excessively, working out to excess or becoming depressed and anxious about the way we look. Finding body positivity through therapy is therefore vital.
The Body Positivity Problem
It seems that our culture today is causing more of us than ever before to have a body positivity problem. Nobody is immune to body image issues. Men, women, and children are all at risk, although women are more likely to report low self-esteem in this respect. Even young people are becoming increasingly insecure about the way they look. Reassurance and even cosmetic surgery rarely help with a body-image problem. Essentially, it becomes a way of life that needs professional help to resolve.
Obsessive worries about body weight and shape aren’t just a problem in the USA – it’s a global phenomenon. Many people, especially females, immediately determine what their status in any room is simply by assessing which of the other occupants are fatter or thinner than them. Weight and shape are used as a yardstick which is used to measure not only attractiveness but also self-worth. For anyone who feels fat and unattractive, it’s no wonder that body positivity is such a major issue.
Why Do Body Positivity Problems Develop?
Girls are more at risk of developing body positivity issues than boys. This is because of they way in which their physiology functions. During puberty, girls gain extra body fat so they can menstruate. This negatively affects women, especially those who enter puberty at a younger age when depression, poor self-esteem and shame are all-too-common.
Body shaming is another common problem which leads to negative body image. Comments about weight in the home, school or amongst peers all have an impact. Even seeing others being on the receiving end of fat-shaming comments can be traumatic. Today, we are more aware of the stigma of calling someone fat than ever before.
However, that hasn’t stopped “fat” being one of the most available insults, especially among young people. Social media has only exacerbated this problem with harassment and bullying over the internet becoming rife.
Some types of body positivity issues arise because of traumatic events in the sufferer’s life. Sexual abuse, for example, is just one event that can negatively impact an individual’s body image. There are many other factors at play too. If the sufferer’s parents had a negative body image or extreme dieting practices, they are more likely to be affected.
Do I Have A Body Positivity Problem?
You’re probably already aware of your issues if you have a body positivity problem. However, if you’re wondering what sort of symptoms to look out for, here are a few of the most common:
- Eating disorders
- Avoiding specific situations
- Avoiding relationships
Some examples of negative body image feelings and thoughts include:
- Labeling – “I’m disgusting and fat”
- Awfulizing – “I’ve got thighs so fat I could never wear a bikini”
- Comparing – “Next to her I look so huge”
- Mind-reading – “Everyone’s looking at my big stomach”
- Obsessive thinking – “I just can’t stop thinking about my flat chest”
If you suffer from a negative body image, anxiety and depression are likely to follow. In the most severe cases, sufferers develop Body Dysmorphic Disorder. There’s no point in telling a sufferer that they don’t look as bad as they believe. They cannot see beyond their disorder. They have a maladjusted perception of their appearance which is so strongly engrained that they will continue to insist that they’re fat, even if they just weight 90 pounds.
How Do People Try To Deal With Their Body Positivity Issues?
If someone feels as though their body isn’t meeting the high standards society sets, they are likely to try to take action to address the problem. While the best course of action is to seek therapy, unfortunately, this isn’t the typical approach. Instead, people with low self-esteem often develop eating disorders in an attempt to eat less food to improve their body shape and size. Some develop an obsession with cosmetic surgery, getting into debt to afford a raft of expensive procedures and treatments.
Today, there are countless strategies to improve appearance which are available, and this availability only serves to encourage those who are dissatisfied with their looks to take action, whatever the cost. Yet no amount of plastic surgery, botox or weight loss treatments will address the issues of someone with a serious body image problem. The only way forward is to get treatment.
Why Should Negative Body Image Be Treated?
When someone puts excessive emphasis on their outward appearance, it becomes almost impossible for them to give any value to their own strengths and qualities. If someone narrows down their attention to their own body, they simply cannot devote any energy to the other elements in their life.
Whether those with a body positivity problem are female or meal, their attempts to hit the idealistic image targets they set for themselves are usually ineffective. The result is behavioral, physical and psychological problems together with obsession about diet, food and exercise. Sufferers develop very poor self-esteem with all of the associated feelings of inferiority and failure, lost libido, memory problems and irritability. Depression, relationship issues, anxiety and introversion in social situations are all common side effects.
As body image issues have a key role to play in the development of eating disorders, it’s essential to take steps to get treatment for body image problems as quickly as possible. It isn’t easy to instil the message that acquiring an ideal body shape doesn’t confer mental well-being or happiness and learning body positivity can be much harder than you’d think. Changing anybody’s beliefs about their own body can be challenging. Many people are fiercely resistant to thinking in a different way about the way they look. This is why getting help from a professional therapist is so important.
Therapists can help you to manage your body positivity issues by using a range of strategies. Instant change isn’t possible, but therapy isn’t a quick fix resolution. It involves:
- Adjusting the way in which someone views their own body
- Learning how to act with greater kindness towards yourself
- Helping you to behave as if you feel good about the way you look
Although it isn’t easy to turn the way you feel about your body around, with professional therapy it can begin to matter less.
How Can Therapy Help Boost Body Positivity?
The best way forward when suffering from a poor body image is to undertake therapy in order to find body positivity. This will help you to realize then accept this hatred of yourself isn’t about your shape or body size. Instead, it’s more a way to blame yourself for everything which isn’t going well in your life.
During therapy sessions, you’ll be able to gradually work on recognizing the way in which you speak to yourself. You’ll eventually recognize the damaging language that you use during your self-talk, and with practice and professional support, you’ll start to choose different ways of speaking to yourself so you can create a more comfortable, more positive self-image. You’ll learn to be kinder to yourself so that you can feel more confident about the way you look.
It’s important to choose a trained therapist with experience in boosting body positivity through the use of different therapies. Some of the most effective are Compassionate Mind Training, CBT, EFT, visualizations and Neurolinguistic Programming. Finding ways to come to a greater acceptance of your physicality is essential if you want to enjoy better mental well-being and a happier life all around.
By learning how to reconsider your unhelpful attitudes and negative feelings, you can gain greater control over them. Instead of blaming your problems solely on the things about your body you perceive as ugly, you can start to see a bigger picture. You can also learn how to overcome the influence of the media and the internet so you can develop a healthier attitude towards yourself.
During therapy, you’ll also learn how to challenge the myths that persist about dieting and appearance, and to address the way in which society promotes unrealistic ideals. This will limit the amount of power that those myths have over you. Group therapy with other sufferers can be helpful while one-to-one counseling can also be extremely beneficial in learning how to pinpoint your specific triggers and issues.
If your body positivity problems are linked to negative events like abuse, trauma or teasing, you’ll find therapy absolutely indispensable to deal with those issues simultaneously. This is the best way to move on with your life and to live a life free of unhealthy body obsessions.
Once you have improved your feelings of self-worth, you will begin to feel at peace with your own body. You’ll also discover over time that you are worth much more than just your exterior appearance and your inner beauty is just as important as your external attractiveness.
Loving Yourself Both Inside And Out
Talking therapies like CBT are very effective when it comes to overcoming disorders involving your self-image. Although therapy is the most important factor in recovering your body positivity, there are some other treatments which can also be beneficial. These include:
- Nutritional counseling – this type of counseling can be extremely helpful if you have an eating disorder or an obsession with food and dieting due to your body image issues. It can help you to break the cycle of bingeing and deprivation that is all-too-common in the USA today.
- Taking regular exercise – as long as you don’t exercise to excess, fitting more physical activity into your life is a good way of learning to respect and love your body. It will also release hormones which make you feel good about yourself.
- Creating an assessment yourself of the reasons why you developed such a negative self-image and keeping diaries about any events which trigger your feelings of dissatisfaction with your body.
- Learning relaxation techniques so that you can reduce your anxiety in situations during which you feel exposed.
- Desensitization to body exposure by using systematic desensitization techniques.
- Identifying and challenging your avoidant and self-defeating behaviors.
- Developing new strategies so you can deal with any difficult people or events which provoke your negative thoughts about your body.
- Creating and practising strategies to prevent a relapse with the support of your professional therapist.
Getting Therapy To Improve Your Body Positivity
Feeling comfortable with your own body is vital to your overall well-being and mental health. Once you get professional help to improve your body positivity, you’ll begin to identify the causes of your dissatisfaction with your body image and you’ll learn to find ways to overcome those feelings.
It’s unrealistic to expect today’s body standards to be eliminated completely. However, learning how to embrace your own beauty is essential if you’re to avoid the psychological and physical toll of negative body image. If you’re counting calories obsessively, constantly focusing on your weight or appearance or exercising relentlessly to try to achieve a better physique, you cannot enjoy any other aspect of your life.
It’s therefore essential for you to start thinking about the effect that pursuing the ideal figure has on your life and then to see a therapist who can help you learn how to challenge your beliefs about your appearance. Although it won’t be a quick or easy process, you’ll eventually begin to recognize your own self-worth and realize that you are a beautiful person both inside and out.
If your body positivity has suffered a blow that triggers severe mental health issues or even an eating disorder, this is the perfect time to reach out for help. If you’re struggling to get back to your normal and have a better view of your own body, consider taking some time to heal at a residential treatment facility like The Meadowglade. Contact us in order to learn more about how we can help you!