Tag Archive | guide

How to develop a positive body image

Considering that our body is the only place we have to live in, it’s very important that we build a positive relationship with it.

Today’s article is a guide to love your body. These are the steps I have taken in moving from someone who didn’t love her body at all, to someone who fully embraces what her body is today and continually improves it to be better.

My wish is that those of you with poor body images will find this guide helpful. Sure, you may hate your body today. Sure, you may have body parts which do not match your ideal body vision. Sure, you may wish that you have an entirely different body altogether. Regardless, it is possible to develop an unconditional, unadulterated love for your body—just as I have. This guide will show you how.

1. Identify the things you do like about your body and start loving them.

Someone with self-body-hate has a tendency to zoom down right to the hateful parts of his/her body whenever he/she sees the mirror. Even if there isn’t anything to hate about a particular body part, he/she can look at that body part and spot imperfections. I can relate because this was the lens I used to wear.

If this is the case for you too, I want you to try something different. The next time you look at your body, look for things that you do like instead. Maybe you have lips that are nice and pouty. Maybe you have killer curves. Maybe you have beautiful eyes. Maybe you have a great smile. Maybe you have nice cheeks.  Maybe you have nice teeth.

Whatever these things are, notice them. Then, celebrate them. Give them credit for being what they are.

Then, make this part of your daily routine whenever you look into the mirror or see images of yourself.

This appreciation process was what I did in my early phase of overcoming my negative body image. My natural tendency then was to notice my body “fats” and put them down repeatedly. This would include my tummy, my “thick” thighs, my double chin, my baby fats, and my round hips. Imagine how tough it was when I gave myself the challenge to look into the mirror and spot things that I liked instead.

While my mind drew a blank for the first few seconds, something soon got my attention—my complexion.

I have a natural, fair complexion which many people often compliment. I realized how lucky I am to have the fair skin as I do today.

Next, I noticed my lips. I suddenly noticed the beauty of my lips in a way I had never noticed before. People have often praised me on my lips before; they would say I have a nice shape to my lips.

Then, I saw my eyes. Oh yes, my eyes, I thought. How could I have forgotten about them?

And the list went on.

With each feature I noticed, something new would catch my attention. Suddenly, I realized there are so many things worth liking about my body—perhaps even more than the number of things I was hating about it. I just had not noticed the former because I had been so busy hating on my body all this while. I felt sad, as it meant that I had been denying my body of the appreciation and love that it deserved.

What did I do then? I began to celebrate the things that I liked about my body. Every time I looked into the mirror, I would dedicate time to appreciating my face and body. It came to a point where the celebration of my looks is now part of my daily routine—not out of narcissism, but out of self-appreciation.

2. Recognize your body is not at fault.

I realized that my body is simply a neutral entity with no emotions. So what if I hate it? So what if I keep scolding it? It’s not going to look any different (as a result of my hating and scolding). If anything, looking back, I actually felt that my body probably looked more haggard than it should because I was harboring so much negative energy against it.

I eventually realized that the only way to address my body issues was (a) to take responsibility for my body woes and (b) to work through them. This meant addressing my self-hate issues. This meant fixing my eating problems and increasing my activity level so that I would achieve a slimmer physique.

While it’s natural to finger point at your body and blame it for all your body woes because it is the one carrying the objects of disdain (such as your fat thighs, chubby cheeks, flabby shoulders, and so on), it’s futile to do so. That’s because your body is neutral. It has no mind of its own. It was created to support your existence and to let you live on earth.

Take responsibility for your body issues and work through them instead of sitting around and hating on your body all day long. This is where the next point comes in.

3. Get to the root of your self-body-hate issues.

Your self-body-hate arose as a symptom of a separate issue. To eradicate your self-body-hate permanently, get to its root cause.

Here are three questions to get started:

  1. What do you dislike about your body?
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part?
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why?
From Q3, keep drilling into the answers until you get to the root cause of your self-body-hate. After that, devise a plan to address this root cause.

For example,

  1. What do you dislike about your body? — I dislike my eyes, my large thighs, and my big belly.
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part? — Because they are so ugly.
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why? — Because they don’t give me the attention I deserve.
    • What do you mean? — Because guys would pay attention to the girls with big eyes, small thighs, and a flat tummy.
    • Why does this bother you? — Because I want guys to pay attention to me too.
    • Why? — Because guys have rarely paid attention to me since I was young.
    • But is this the fault of your body though? — No it isn’t. My self-body-hate is merely an expression of my frustration of my lack of appeal to the opposite gender.
    • What can you do about this? Firstly, I can work on being more confident. It is said that confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can ever have. Secondly, I should embrace the natural beauty of my looks. Thirdly, if I have an issue with my body weight, I should work on losing weight, rather than hating my body on it. My body is an innocent party that has nothing to do with my self-body-issues.

Notice how the answers started off as surface-level responses (ugly features). Then, they quickly moved down to a deeper-level issue (not being appealing to the opposite gender) through strategic probing. This is then followed by a wrapping of the issue with proper next steps.

For whatever you may seem to dislike/hate about your body, chances are this emotion stems from a deeper-level issue, with body hate being a symptom of the problem. You need to uncover this deeper-level issue by repeatedly challenging the surface-level answers you receive from this exercise.

For me, my self-body-hate was driven by three factors: (a) my fixation with one notion of beauty, in part due to media conditioning and my childhood stories, (b) my lack of respect for my body, (c) my hatred for myself.

4. Work towards your ideal vision of your body, not anyone else’s ideal vision.

One of people’s key motivators to lose weight/change their appearance/look better is to appeal to the opposite gender.

Yet, I want you to always remember to work towards your ideal vision of your body. Meaning—what do you see as the best version of your body? What do you see as your ideal weight (factoring in the healthy height and weight guidelines)? What do you see as your ideal fitness level? Work towards these visions, not other’s visions.

For example, many girls (including me in the past) strive to be skinny because it’s supposedly an archetype of beauty.

However, a skinny body is merely a vision projected by the media. Yes, perhaps some guys do like stick-skinny girls. But if your ideal vision of your body is to have a wholesome body with nice curves, then get that body and rock it! There will always be different guys with different tastes, and whoever likes your body will be drawn to you, and whoever doesn’t like it, won’t.

The most important thing to note is that this is your body, your life. Don’t mold your body just to match others’ visions. Work towards a body that you love, first and foremost. You are the key target audience of your body; everyone else is secondary. Look good for yourself first, then worry about what others think (or better still, don’t worry at all).

5. Embrace the individual beauty of your body. (Unchain yourself from media’s conditioning.)

Size zero. Big eyes. Sharp nose. Sharp chin. Big, pouty lips. Flawless complexion. Long, thin legs. Small waist. Big boobs.

The above is a standard list of criteria for what is perceived to be beauty for a female.

All our lives, we have been fed a certain image of beauty by others. All our lives, we have thought beauty to mean having set features, a set look, and a set height/weight.

However, what if that isn’t true? What if beauty has always been in us all along, just that we are not privy to it due to our conditioning?

Our perception of beauty has been narrowly defined by the media all our lives.

For a while I bought into this image as well. I thought beauty was a class reserved only for people who met that stringent list of criteria.

But then I realized that beauty is more than just about being a certain size and looking a certain way. It made me realize that—hey—beauty doesn’t just in one form, one shape, one color, and one size. Beauty exists everywhere—in all forms, all shapes, all colors, and all sizes

Meaning: there is no one look that is more or less beautiful than another; all looks are beautiful in themselves. This includes your look: whatever features and body type you have. It’s a look that is beautiful and unique to you, in your own special way.

The unfortunate thing is that most people are so fixated on that one notion of beauty that they fail to recognize how beautiful they truly are. And this is such a waste.

Here’s something I want you to do from now on: Rather than stack your body up against a certain mental image, see your body as is. See every single feature of your face/body as it is, without expectations of what it should be or shouldn’t be. Look. Observe. And feel.

Who knows, you may start seeing something you have never seen before. A realization of how beautiful you actually are. A new-found appreciation for your beauty.

6. Be Grateful for Your Body

Are you grateful for the body you have today? Or do you take it for granted?

I find it sad that there are fully able-bodied people berate their bodies endlessly, while you have people who are disabled who utilize their bodies in ways better than those fully able-bodied people ever will.

Take for example, Nick Vujicic. Born with no hands and no legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder, he struggled mentally, emotionally, and physically as a child due to this condition. He eventually came to terms with his disability and started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs, at the age of seventeen.

You can watch a video about him when you visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLDBgRAvmew

Today, Nick is married (as of 2012), has a son (as of 2013), and speaks all over the world, inspiring people with his personal story of disability, personal struggle, and success.

Another example is Lizzie Velasquez. You can watch her inspiring speech here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c62Aqdlzvqk. She is one of only three people on Earth born with an unusual genetic ailment that prevents her from gaining any weight. She discovered a video of herself on YouTube labeled “The World’s Ugliest Woman” in high school. Unfortunately, the video had already received four million hits on the website. Instead of suffering from anger, hopelessness and depression, she took a different approach to her attitude. After educating some high school freshmen about her rare disorder, she challenged the issue of bullying face-to-face and generated a schedule of dialogue arrangements. As a result, she appeared on multiple television programs which allowed her to produce three books, including “Be Beautiful, Be You.

Think about Nick and Lizzie, then think about how you can better appreciate your body today. Despite being disabled, they have embraced their bodies and accomplished so much in their lives. It’s a sign to us to be grateful for the bodies we have today and put them to better use.

7. Be the best owner of your body.

Last but not least, be the best owner of your body.

You may be given this body at birth. However, have you justified your place as your body’s rightful owner? Have you cared and treated your body in a way that’s in its highest good of all?

Chances are you haven’t. So many of us abuse our bodies. We smoke, drink, eat junk food, laze around (or exercise ferociously for some), hurt ourselves, deprive ourselves of sleep, etc.—without considering the damage we are doing with each of those actions.

Myself, I used to abuse my body with binge eating, ferocious exercising thereafter, and minimal rest due to my constant self-pressurization. In retrospect, I was such an unworthy owner of my body. I was blessed with this body, and yet I failed to take good care of it.

The good thing is that my previous episode of body abuse and self-body-hate made me truly treasure my body. Today, I longer abuse my body. I rest when I need to. I consume the best food for my body. I regulate my eating. I engage in a healthy level of physical activity to keep my body fit. I don’t drink except at specific social outings, and even then that only happens once every few months.

I’m proud to say that I now manage my body in a way that’s to its highest good, and I can’t think of anyone who can be a better owner of my body than me myself.

Here are some questions to get you going in being the best owner of your body:

  1. What is your ideal, healthiest diet for your body?
  2. What is your ideal level of physical activity that will keep your body at prime condition?
  3. What lifestyle habits/changes will make the biggest difference in your life?
  4. Do you have any bad habits which are jeopardizing your body and which you should cut right away? What are they?
  5. For your answers to Q1–4, how can you start realizing them today?

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How to stop caring about what others think

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld

I have realized how much I cared about other people’s opinions. My entire sense of self worth was dependent on how other people saw me. The more I cared about people’s opinion, the more their opinion was affecting me. Their opinions eventually became my reality. I have made people’s expectations my priority. I ignored my own desires and I never expressed my true ideas and emotions.

I used to take everything personally. Someone could say something to me, and it bothered me all day. As James Frey said: “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” Yes, I that’s exactly what I was, a prisoner. My shyness and my fear of rejection has ruined so many good opportunities. Across the room I saw what could be the person of my dreams, but I didn’t approach because of what a room full of strangers might think if I’m rejected. By caring what these strangers think, I was allowing people I’ll never see again to control my behavior. I could give you millions of other examples similar to this one.

It wasn’t until just recently when I realized what a horrible people pleaser I am. I lived a life of constriction. And to live a life of constriction is to only live a half life. I’ve decided that I don’t want to live this way anymore. I no longer want other people to control my life.

I have realized that when I stop trying to impress others, I can express my true self more fully and connect with people, more genuinely, openly, intimately. The less time and energy I spend on image management, on making my life presentable to others, the more time I can spend on things that really matter.

I came to the conclusion that caring about what other people think about us is completely illogical.

So how can you stop worrying about what people think of you? I’ve made a list of reason that could help you:

1. People will believe what they want to believe

Human beings generally have set prejudices (however ridiculous) about certain things that are hard to change, no matter how much of an effort you make. It is impossible to know exactly what people are thinking, let alone why they’re thinking it.

Although you may be able to influence people’s thoughts with your words or actions, you can only do so up to a certain point. You can never have total control over anyone’s thoughts, no matter how hard you try. So why would you even waste your time bothering to do so? With 7 billion people on the planet, we have 7 billion different sets of preferences. Good luck trying to match up with all of them!

2. People don’t care nearly as much as you think they do

No matter how much people may gossip about you, judge you, or criticize you, we are all pretty self-centered, whether we admit it or not.

It may not necessarily be in a bad or selfish way, but we do tend to give a great deal of importance to ourselves. So the probability is that while you’re busy worrying about what they think of you, they are too busy worrying about themselves to give you any real importance at all.

3. You don’t need anyone’s approval

Being liked, being admired and being praised feels incredible. Gaining someone’s approval through something you’ve done or said is a really great feeling. But since you cannot control anyone’s thoughts, it will eventually drive you insane.

Well, you know what? You don’t need approval as much as you think you do. While being liked feels amazing, what feels even better is being able to accept the fact that some people are going to dislike you no matter what, and being absolutely okay with it because you couldn’t care less.

If people like you better, admire you more and praise you a whole lot due to something you’ve done for yourself, take it as a bonus. Just don’t be a slave to people’s approval. Approval is addictive, and you might very well end up losing yourself in the process of constantly searching for it.

4. What Difference Does it Make to You?

What does it really mean to your life?

If you decide to wear something unusual and you are met with (what you interpret as) a disapproving look from someone else, how does that really affect your life?

Try to think about your answer in tangible terms. Sure, you might be embarrassed momentarily, but five years from now, or even five days from now, how much will their opinions really matter to you?

5. Stop making assumptions

You are not a mind reader. You may think you know what other people think, but unless you ask them directly (and assuming you would get an honest answer), you will never truly know.

6. Life Is Complicated

People have many things going on their lives. They have unfulfilled desires to dream about, worries to worry about, families and to care for, jobs to do and careers to advance, bills to pay, chores to be done, pets to walk, plans to be made, hobbies to indulge, TV and movies to watch, music to listen to, sports to follow, religions to follow and so on.

If people sleep eight hours a day and work another eight, that leaves only another eight hours to devote to those other things.

How much of those eight hours do you think another person would devote to thinking about you and your perceived short-comings?

7. Everybody’s Doing It

Remember that everyone has negative thoughts about other people and themselves from time to time. So when you are worried about someone in particular, remember that they too worry about what someone else thinks of them (maybe even you). They, too, have thought negatively of by someone in their life. And you, too, think negative thoughts about other people from time to time.

8. The people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind

There is something about people who dislike you that makes you want to make them like you even more. There is something about people who disapprove of you that makes you want their approval even more badly. Maybe it’s the challenge, maybe you just want to prove them wrong – whatever it is, it’s an endless cycle. Once you impress one person, you’re going to want another person’s approval, and once you get that person’s approval you’re going to want to make some other person like you and so on.

Why bother with them when there are people who like you, and will continue to like you just the way you are? Sometimes we are so focused on people who don’t matter that we end up neglecting the people who do. These are people who are going to support you, care about you and be there for you no matter what. These are people who make you feel good, people you’re comfortable around and don’t need to impress. Figure out who these people are and focus on them instead.

Now, by all means, not caring doesn’t mean becoming an incredibly rude, insensitive and incredibly egoistic person who does whatever they please, because they couldn’t care less about anything or anyone. The idea isn’t to stop caring completely – it’s to stop caring enough to be able to make your own decisions based on your priorities, your values and your ambitions and not other people’s opinions.

Be authentic. Have the courage to allow people to see the real you. Be willing to be judged, and even encourage it. It’s good for self-knowledge and for developing thick skin. As you become and express your best self, others will think great things about you, and the few that don’t won’t matter anyway. If all this is too extreme for you, start by taking small steps. Rather than not caring at all what others think of you, start by just caring less. Be open to what they think and feel, and consider their opinions, but decide for yourself how to act. Care what the important people in your life think, but only those whose opinions you value. Strangers should not get a vote in how you live your life.