Expert Insight: Looking the Wrong Way

“Body image is quite independent of physical appearance. Someone with high self-esteem tends to view her body favourably, regardless of how she actually looks.  

The weak connection between body image and physical appearance means that changing your looks won’t guarantee a lasting improvement in self-esteem…you need to get past your appearance and focus on your other personal strengths as well.”

– Rita Freedman, “Bodylove”.

It may come as a surprise that body image really has nothing to do with how you look.

When someone struggles with poor body image, we might say “it’s such a shame – if only they could learn to like their looks”.

In reality, it’s “if only they could learn to like themselves”.

If we want to feel better about ourselves, dreaming about having the perfect body and fantasizing about “fixing” our appearance is, essentially, looking the wrong way.

It’s looking outward, not inward.

A dysfunctional relationship with food is symptomatic of a dysfunctional relationship with ourselves. The latter can’t be improved by looking in the mirror. It can’t be solved with weight loss. It can’t be healed by the approval and admiration of others.

Self-esteem is our relationship with ourselves, no one else.

That’s why it’s crucial we give ourselves a break and get to know ourselves better because if you can come to know and appreciate your qualities and strengths, you can come to know and appreciate your body.

It’s simple: hate yourself, hate your body. Like yourself, like your body.

If we think “I’ll like myself when I’m thin enough” we’re entirely missing the point. For how many years now have we been missing the point?

It’s time we started getting it. I mean really getting it.

We just need to stop looking the wrong way.

***

Freedman, R (1988), Bodylove: Learning to Like Our Looks – and Ourselves”. London: Grafton Books.

What’s the Downside of Daydreaming?

As you elegantly step out of the limousine onto the red carpet, cheers instantly erupt from the waiting crowd. You reward them with a dazzling smile while the night sky lights up with hundreds of flashes from paparazzi cameras.

In one perfectly manicured hand you hold the new diamond-encrusted phone Apple designed especially for you. In the other, you clutch the Oscar you won the night before for Best Adapted Screenplay of your own best-selling novel (your legendary acceptance speech was both hilarious and moving, by the way).

Your phone rings. It’s Adele. What? She wants to duet with you on her new album? Well, how could you refuse? You’re not sure how you’ll squeeze it in, what with addressing the United Nations, the fitting for your new Marvel superhero costume, and collecting your Nobel Prize in Stockholm. But sure, Adele, anything for you. Suddenly, you hear a loud voice say:

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Food for Thought: Water Your Dreams with Optimism

“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”  – Lao Tzu

So you’ve crystallised your dreams for the coming year and you’ve planted the seeds of your desires in the (hopefully) fertile soil of 2020.

Now take a moment to look inward and tell me – do you expect your dreams ultimately to grow and blossom, or wither and die?

Be honest.

Your answer makes all the difference.

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Season’s Bleatings: Dodging Diet Talk

At a Christmas party, two guests are standing by the buffet. One has their plate piled high with food. The other has cleverly taken a Buffet Tour and has selected only the food they really wanted. The first guest is eating very quickly, the other is taking their time and savouring their selection.

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Season’s Greetings: A Letter to You

You’ll notice things are a little different on the blog this month. The usual features are being replaced with a series of festive-themed posts to help you through the holiday season.

And before the festivities really begin to ramp up, why not stop and take a breather?

Think about how the past 12 months have been for you and consider what you want next year.

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Gentle Reminder: It’s Not Your Fault

It’s so easy to beat yourself up when you binge. Especially if you begin to suffer health complications as a result of increased weight.

“It’s my fault”, you say. “I’ve brought this on myself”.

Except you haven’t.

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Expert Insight: Seeing the Funny Side of Our Mistakes

“One way to encourage clients to accept themselves is to remind them that it is human to err and make mistakes. This will enable them to see themselves as human and learn to replace self-judgement with humility and laughter, rather than being crippled by shame. When clients are able to laugh rather than become embarrassed by awkward situations, they are able to redefine their experience and maintain social bonds. In this way, good-natured humour and laughter has a positive effect in disrupting the cycle of shame (Scheff 1990). Moreover, shared laughter is quintessentially human and a powerful tool for connecting to others.”

– Christiane Sanderson, “Counselling Skills for Working with Shame”

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