Posts tagged with ‘Negative Body Image’

11 may

Healthy Thinking: Using Your Mind to Help Heal Body, Heart and Soul

You probably know what it takes to live a healthy life, right? Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, take vitamins – maybe add in some fish oil for cardiovascular health. Make sure you get enough protein, carbohydrates, and lean fats. Fortunately for many, healthy eating and exercise have become more and more a way of life. You know the list of do’s and don’ts to keep your body strong and fit.

What is less well known is how your thoughts influence your physical, emotional, and even spiritual health. Your mind is an extremely powerful instrument that can be either a friend or foe. For most, left to its own devices, the mind is a foe, and can lead to pain, difficulty, and suffering. With a little bit of effort and awareness, however, the mind can become a friend. As a friend, your mind can be used as a powerful asset to help promote your health and well-being on all levels.

Understanding Your Mind – Friend or Foe

Is your mind your friend or your foe? If you are like most, your mind bombards you with concerns, worry, anxiety, negative self-talk and a barrage of other nonsense.

Your mind may harass you about being good enough or healthy enough. It might critique you for making “poor” decisions. Are you being a good enough mother to your children? Are you a loving enough partner? Are you taking good enough care of your physical body?

And then let’s not forget gnawing concerns about physical appearance. The mind may lament: “I have too many wrinkles.” “How did my butt get so big?” “What should I do about these sun spots?”

Does this list sound at all familiar? You can probably write your own – your unique “flavor” of negative mental messages. These messages range from annoying to downright tyrannical. They are tyrannical because they control your life.

What kind of life can you live when your mind harasses you constantly with these types of concerns and worries?

It is my contention that true health is impossible when you live with a tyrannical mind. And most people do. You can eat all the right foods, do all the right exercises, take all the best supplements, and have a wonderful mix of alternative and conventional medical care. Yet if you are a slave to your thoughts, believing every mental message that the mind produces, how can you be truly healthy?

The mind-body connection is by now well-known and documented throughout the scientific literature. If your mind is producing stress, anxiety, and insecurity, whether that is through making you believe that you are not quite good enough the way you are, or that something is wrong with you, or making you worry and stress about situations over which you have no control, this mental turbulence has a very real impact on your physical health and well-being.

The tragedy is that most people live enslaved by their minds – their thoughts, beliefs, mental patterns and emotions. The triumph is that with a little awareness and effort, you can begin to free yourself from the tyranny of your mind and move toward true health and well-being.

Freeing the Mind – Breaking Free from the Thoughts and Beliefs that Confine You

So, how do you break free from this ceaseless and controlling mind-chatter?

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that will help you find freedom from a controlling, and even debilitating mind.

Step #1: Become aware of the thoughts that you think

Before you can break free from your negative thoughts, ideas, and beliefs about yourself, your body, and your life, you must first become aware of the thoughts that you think on a regular basis.

What thoughts and beliefs are being generated in your mind? Everyone has thoughts, messages, “tapes” if you will, that run through the mind. Without awareness, these thoughts control you and dictate your life. Yet as you become aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis, you can gradually begin to loosen the control they have over your life.

There is no practice more important or more impactful in breaking free from the thoughts that control you than the practice of meditation. Over time, a regular meditation practice makes you more aware of the thoughts that are being generated by your mind. With meditation, you discover that you are not the thoughts you think. You are not the messages and voices inside your head. Over time, meditation will gradually help lessen the grip and hold that your thoughts have over your life. The amazing thing about meditation is that simply by practicing meditation, you will become more aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis.

Step #2: Recognize that they are false

Before you become aware of your thoughts, they control you absolutely. As you become aware of them, you can begin to notice that they control you. You can begin to notice how they control you. The next step in breaking free from them is recognizing that they are false. You have to realize that they are simply messages, usually learned in early childhood, and they are false. They are not about you and should not be allowed to control your life.

Step#3: Refuse to believe them

The next step is refusing to believe them. As you begin to see more clearly that these false messages run through your mind, you can make a decision to not believe them. You can recognize that they are false – false messages running through your mind. As such, they should not be listened to and should be ignored.

It is like music running in the background. You can carry about your business, go about your life, and ignore the negative thoughts and beliefs. Disregard them, don’t listen to them – completely ignore them. As you practice this, gradually over time they will lessen and recede more and more.

In this way, you can use your awareness to free yourself from the negative thoughts that you think.

As the mind becomes free from these negative messages and beliefs, it can be used as an ally to promote health. When you are listening to the negative thoughts and beliefs that run through your mind, it promotes dis-ease. As you become free from these voices, the energy of your mind is elevated to help you move toward true wellbeing.

SarahMariaSarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing. Visit BreakFreeBeauty.com to learn more.

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Posted by Sarah Maria on May 11th, 2011 in Health | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

03 dec

Author Interview: Body Image Expert Sarah Maria on Love Your Body, Love Your Life

SarahMariaPart I: Excerpts from an interview with Sarah Maria on her new book Love Your Body, Love Your Life: 5 Steps to End Negative Body Obsession and Start Living Happily and Confidently.

Question: I’ve heard many people say that disliking your body is just a normal part of being a woman [or a man in today’s culture]. What do you think about such a statement?

This is a very important question that I address specifically in Love Your Body, Love Your Life. Yes, many people, probably most people, say that disliking your body is a normal part of being a woman. If by “normal” they mean that the majority of women, 80-90%, dislike their bodies, then yes, it is “normal”. The vast majority of women in this culture at this time do dislike their bodies.

But to think that this is normal as in “natural, necessary, a normal function of being alive” is ridiculous. This belief is part of the problem. Since it is so ubiquitous, many women have come to accept that it is just part of being a woman. This is ludicrous! It is settling for what happens to be the situation for many, instead of envisioning the possibilities that are available for all. It is accepting mediocrity instead of creating grandeur. It is maintaining the status quo instead of envisioning the truth.

Disliking your body is only normal in that most women experience it. It is in no way natural, and in no way necessary. You have the ability in each and every moment to love your body and love your life. Negative Body Obsession is a modern cultural epidemic. It has not always existed, and it need not always exist. It is in no way a natural part of being alive and can therefore be completely eradicated from your psyche and experience.

Question: What led you to write Love Your Body, Love Your Life?

I decided to write this book because I experienced first-hand the intense pain, suffering, and agony that can accompany Negative Body Obsession, eating disorders, and low se lf-esteem. I also know that freedom from this hell is completely possible. I want this book to reach people who are struggling with any and all of the above. There is hope.

I also wrote this book to help people think critically about concepts such as beauty, as well as the beliefs, thoughts, and ideas that so many people take for granted. Beauty is a socially-constructed phenomenon. Different body types, different looks, and different sizes are considered beautiful at different times in history. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, curvy and voluptuous was considered stunning. In this culture in this century, thin and muscularly toned is considered sexy. When people recognize that there is no inherent truth in these concepts of beauty, that it is in fact a cultural preference that changes overtime, it helps to dissolve this illusion that how they look is somehow tied to their value and self-worth as an individual.

For many people struggling with a negative body image, they believe that how they look is somehow related to their self-worth as individuals. Nothing could be further from the truth. When people realize that it is a cultural phenomenon, they can begin to free themselves from the whims and preferences of other people and the world around them, and instead discover and experience their own inherent and unique beauty.

Question: In Love Your Body, Love Your Life, you teach readers how to break free from Negative Body Obsession or NBO. What exactly is NBO?

Negative Body Obsession, or NBO, is the negative rumination about one’s physical appearance. It is the entire delusional thought-construct that causes people to believe that something is wrong with their bodies and themselves. It encompasses thoughts such as “I am too fat”; “I would be more attractive if I lost weight”; “I looked so much better when I was younger”; “I need to purchase anti-wrinkle cream – I look so old!”; “No woman will find me attractive without my hair”; “The cellulite on the back of my thighs is hideous”.

These are just examples – only you know your particular negative body thoughts. Negative Body Obsession is essentially the condition of having negative thoughts and beliefs about your body and yourself.

It is important to know that NBO exists on a broad spectrum. You might have an occasional negative body thought that affects your mood and well-being, or you might live with a near-constant barrage of negative body thoughts on a daily basis. No matter whether your condition is mild or severe, complete freedom is possible. Many people think that it is a “normal” part of everyday life, and therefore it is considered acceptable on some level. In reality, there is nothing normal about it, and if it affects you, if even just a little bit, you are not living with all the freedom that is possible.

Question: The media plays a role in fostering body dissatisfaction. In your book, you write “when you master the art of talking back, you can reclaim your control and become an influencer of the media, instead of being a victim influenced by the media.” What are the ways we can talk back?

There are many ways to talk back. In fact, you can probably think of many powerful ways to talk back to the media. I outline a specific exercise in Love Your Body, Love Your Life but the key theme underlying any talking back to the media, or any other “influencer of your thought life”, is by refusing to participate in the process of “internalization.”

The problem with the media occurs when you allow it to influence you, when you allow the messages to be internalized. The problem occurs when you look at a picture in a magazine, or on the television screen, and then take that image to have something to do with you, to be some reflection on you and your body. The fact is that the image has nothing to do with you at all. The problem occurs when you look at the picture and then look at yourself in the mirror and conclude that your life would be better if you looked like that image, or that you would be more attractive if you looked like that image, or that the person in the image is somehow better than you, whatever your particular story is. The fact of the matter is that the photo is in no way a commentary on you.

So the best thing to do with talking back is to tell the media, the magazine, the movie, whatever, that you are not going to allow it to influence you. Remind yourself that it has nothing to do with you, that it is in no way a reflection of you. Tell this to whatever you sense is influencing you. Tell the media that it has no power over you at all. You can choose what you allow to influence you.

Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing. Purchase your copy of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, begin to love your body today! For more, visit: www.sarahmaria.com, www.breakfreebeauty.com.

Posted by Sarah Maria on December 3rd, 2009 in General | No comments Read related posts in , , , ,

21 nov

You Are Not Alone: Struggling with Negative Body Obsession

SarahMariaHave you ever looked in the mirror and been dismayed by the cellulite on your thighs or the wrinkles around your eyes? Have you thought about buying a new bathing suit but cringed at the idea of looking at yourself in the dressing room mirror? Have you ever longed to be taller, thinner, younger, or stronger?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. In fact, you are among the 80 to 90 percent of women, and growing number of men, who dislike their physical appearance and are dissatisfied with their bodies. Body hatred has become an epidemic of unfathomable proportions in this culture.

How does this dissatisfaction manifest itself in your life? In more ways than you might imagine. Beauty and body size are often associated with success—in romance, business, or any other facet of life, and if you don’t think you meet society’s “beauty ideal,” you may feel inadequate, ashamed, and embarrassed. Consciously or unconsciously, you suffer unnecessarily because you don’t think you are beautiful enough, thin enough, or good enough to live the life of your dreams, the life you deserve. You accept less, much less, than you truly want, need, or deserve, because you feel inadequate about your body and yourself.

The truth is that your sense of inadequacy is an illusion, or more a delusion. Yes, it’s true. Many Americans suffer from this grand delusion: If I am not thin/tall/toned/beautiful/young enough, I can’t live my life fully or realize my dreams. Rather than truly loving our bodies, minds, and souls, we want to nip and tuck, slice and dice, starve and purge our way to being adequate. We think we need to change something about ourselves in order to be deserving of love, attention, and affection.

What Is Negative Body Obsession?

This deluded sense of inadequacy has a name: Negative Body Obsession, or NBO. NBO is a condition marked by a near-constant critical rumination on one’s appearance. Though NBO has yet to show up in the psychologist’s bible Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is a very real, very prevalent, and, dare I say, nearly ubiquitous condition in modern society.

Do You Have NBO?

How do you know if you are suffering from Negative Body Obsession? No blood test will tell you; it’s a matter of evaluating your feelings and reactions at certain moments. For example, Negative Body Obsession is the:

• Sigh of resignation when you notice the wrinkles around your eyes
• Grimace when your best friend gets a boob job and you wonder if you should, too
• Feeling of defeat when you realize your high school jeans no longer fit
• Panic you feel when you realize you ate too much at Thanksgiving dinner
• Anxious thought that you must maintain your physique in order to get the relationship or the job you want

NBO is any and every thought, feeling, and action that makes your sense of self-worth dependent on your physical appearance. It is the thought that implies “If I am thin, I will be beautiful.” It is the outlook that says “If I didn’t have these wrinkles, I would be attractive.” It is the voice that says “If I lose weight, I will feel good about myself.” It is the feeling that if only you were taller, thinner, younger, or stronger, you would be more deserving, more attractive, and more lovable than you are right now.

Making Improvements to Your Body for the Right Reasons

Let me address a potential point of confusion from the get-go. The problem with NBO is not that it makes you want to change, per se. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to get stronger; to become healthier; and to feel more radiant, beautiful, and alive. In fact, your desire for improvement can serve as an impetus for tremendous growth and development.

NBO creeps in, however, when your desires for improvement are motivated by a gnawing sense of inadequacy, a subtle belief that you are not quite wonderful the way you are. When your desires come from this place of inadequacy, your attempts to fulfill them are often thwarted or require tremendous effort. When you learn to fully befriend, accept, and love yourself, on the other hand, improvement can happen with patience, ease, and grace. When improvement comes from a place of acceptance and perfection, your potential for growth is unlimited. We’ll talk more about this later.

Isn’t NBO Normal?

Negative Body Obsession has become such a mainstay of modern culture that you may think it’s the only way to live. Many hardworking, bright people would agree with you—I have met some of them, in fact. As part of my own journey away from NBO, I had the pleasure of working with two different psychologists, both of whom I respect tremendously, at two separate times in my life. When discussing my concerns and angst about my body, they both told me that all women (and a growing number of men) in modern society struggle to some extent with dissatisfaction with their bodies. I was not surprised to hear that; I’d heard friends, family, and coworkers complain about their bodies, too.

What did bother me was that their statements implied that NBO was just the nature of life in modern society. It was just something I’d have to learn to live with. I could choose to continue my unhealthy obsessive angst or settle for a milder and more acceptable general form of dissatisfaction. Either way, love of my body and complete freedom from physical dissatisfaction was not mentioned as an option.

Although their insight and expertise helped me tremendously, there was always a small voice inside me that yearned for something more. Part of me knew that even if this discontent was “normal,” it was not natural. There is nothing natural about:

• A gnawing discontent with your physical appearance
• Wanting to be somehow different so that you can feel beautiful, desirable, and successful
• Feeling dissatisfied every time you look in the mirror
• Believing that life would be better if you just weighed a little less or looked a little younger

On the contrary, what is natural is:

• The unshakable knowledge in your inherent beauty, goodness, and strength
• Experiencing yourself as inherently perfect
• Experiencing the peace and bliss of your own being
• Knowing that you are absolutely lovable in this very moment

So yes, Negative Body Obsession is “normal” and very common. But it is anything but natural.

The above is an excerpt from the book Love Your Body, Love Your Life: 5 Steps to End Negative Body Obsession and Start Living Happily and Confidently by Sarah Maria. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

The book outlines her five-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today. To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her website at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com.

Posted by Sarah Maria on November 21st, 2009 in Health | No comments Read related posts in