We live in a society where media portrayals of the perfect body image cause many of us to struggle with body dysmorphia. This disorder causes you to obsess over the flaws you see in the mirror. It also causes you to see a very distorted view yourself, most common is to see yourself larger than you are. Your perceptions of imperfections produce feelings of distress, inadequacy, and shame. Fortunately, you can learn how to conquer body dysmorphia with 3 simple steps.
1. Develop a new mindset to conquer body dysmorphia
While you realize that the perfect body is unattainable, you still feel inadequate because of your physical flaws. A key component of overcoming body dysmorphia is teaching yourself to accept the truth that you are more than how you look. Every individual has unique talents, gifts, and abilities that reach far beyond your physical appearance.
Do you believe that one’s worth is only tied to their physical appearance? If so, where does that belief come from? The truth is that your value comes from who you are inside, not the outside. Outside appearances changes over time, therefore, finding worth and value internally is the goal. That way, no matter what the scale say, the mirror reflects, or the size of your clothes communicate, your worth can be consistent vs up and down depending on how you look.
Learning to find your worth in who you are rather than how you look can be as simple as reminding yourself of this truth when you are bombarded with the lie that you are flawed and therefore not good enough. Practice adopting this mindset by replacing your negative thoughts with positive truths. While you may find this challenging to do at first, soon it will become a healthy habit that will begin to transform the way you think and feel about your imperfect, but beautiful, body. For more information on how to have a healthier body image with new mindsets, read this blog.
2. Learning to love yourself is key
Part of developing a new mindset includes learning to love yourself. A big part of learning to love yourself is recognizing the things you are grateful for. Remembering to focus on the attributes that you are thankful for helps to move the spotlight away from your imperfections. In addition, stop comparing to the “perfection” you see on social media. Limiting what you expose yourself to, especially if it causes you to feel bad about yourself, is a powerful way to learn to love yourself.
The rise of social media has contributed to a vast amount of discontentment with physical appearances. Overall sense of wellbeing is adversely affected when you attempt to find your value in the way you look rather than who you are. It has been said that nothing steals your joy like comparison.
Loving yourself requires that you celebrate your uniqueness and become proud of what your body is capable of. You must also remember to be patient and gentle with yourself. Changing mindsets, creating healthier habits, and building self-esteem all require time, practice, and patience. You need to remember to give yourself the same compassion you extend to others.
Start to value attributes and qualities about yourself that you value in others. For example, if you value loyalty, compassion, generosity in others, can you see those same qualities in yourself. Take an inventory of what you look for in other people that has nothing to do with their body and see if you too can value qualities about yourself. Make a list and keep adding to it as you learn to love yourself even more over time.
3. Finally, adopting healthy habits will help conquer body dysmorphia
Self-care is an important part of conquering body dysmorphia. Self-care requires being mindful of the current moment rather than fixating on the past or the future. When you’re mindful, you are in tune with what you feel and what you need. Studies have demonstrated that mindfulness contributes to healthier relationships with food, your body, and your overall sense of wellbeing.
Other healthy self-care habits to adopt include achieving adequate rest, eating a healthy diet, and creating a regular exercise routine as well as learning to manage stress. Meditation, journaling, and discussing your struggles with a trusted individual all contribute to better mental health outcomes. While learning to adopt these healthy habits, it is important to remember that the goal is more about feeling better than transforming the way you look. When you feel better, you will look better.
Fortunately, these 3 simple steps will conquer body dysmorphia. Developing that new mindset, learning to love and accept yourself for who you are, and adopting healthy self-care habits all require effort and patience. However, the benefits to your overall health and wellbeing far outweigh the cost. Being able to look in the mirror and not be tortured by what you see is the attainable goal. Be kind. Be patient. Don’t give up.
Lesley Goth, PsyD has developed a system that transforms women’s relationship with food and their bodies. If you’d like to take a free class where you can start to feel more in control right away, you can register here.