How do you talk to yourself when you look in the mirror or step on a scale? Do you notice the positive and give yourself affirmations, such as, “Blue is a good color on me” or, “I am having a great hair day”? Or do you often tend to focus on negative observations, such as, “I need to lose 10 pounds” or, “I get more wrinkles every day”?
Treating yourself with kindness, love and appreciation is essential to building a healthy body image, but many of us get trapped in the vicious cycle of criticizing and feeling bad about our physical appearance. Take a small step toward changing this habit today. Celebrate your inner and outer beauty with journaling therapy!
1. Find a mirror (full-length if possible) in your house, and spend a few minutes admiring yourself in it. You might feel self-conscious or silly doing this at first, but try to see yourself with fresh eyes. What are your most attractive features? What is striking or unique about you? What resembles other people in your family? What are you most proud of? Open your journal and write a list of everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about being conceited – this is your chance to brag! For example:
• I think I have a great smile (those braces when I was a kid paid off!)
• I have my father’s nose and my mother’s eyes, which is a good combo
• My legs are strong because I have been a runner and a soccer player all my life
• I am tall and always remember to stand up straight
2. Reread your list, and take a moment to internalize the affirmations. How do you feel hearing compliments about yourself? How is it different from the way you feel when you criticize or complain about your appearance? Think of a few of the common negative messages you say to yourself regularly. Write them down, then rewrite them in a way that focuses on something supportive and loving. For example:
• Negative message: I hate my flabby stomach. Why don’t clothes ever fit me right?
Rewrite: I feel great in my new red dress that gives me a perfect hourglass figure.
• Negative message: I am so pale! I always get sunburned, never tan, and I have way too many freckles.
Rewrite: I have a lovely clear complexion, and other people tell me my freckles are cute.
How does the way you talk to yourself about your appearance affect your body image? What affirmations and mantras have worked for you or which ones will you start using?
Work on other body image issues and all things physical in the Perfect Health: 7 Days Heal Your Body Journal Writing Challenge Workbook