Posted By: Envision2bWell, Inc
By Jillian Villeneuve, Content Writer, Envision2bWell
We’ve all heard the term “body confidence” but what does it really mean?
While different for a lot of people, the general idea is that you accept yourself as you are. People who practice body confidence do so every day. They practice daily affirmations, nourish their body with food, or practice self-care, for example. They set goals to feel comfortable in their own skin and exercise to celebrate their body (and for those feel-good endorphins!).
They no longer skip events because they’re embarrassed about their recent weight gain. They don’t use words like "gross,” “disgusting,” and “awful” to describe themselves. They don't feel shame or guilt over skipping workouts or eating "bad" foods. Does this sound like you?
If it doesn’t, don’t worry! Body confidence is something that can be learned and body negativity can be unlearned! Say goodbye to the days where you focus on your flaws and aim to shrink your body. Here are 8 tips to follow on your path to body confidence. Remember, it is all a journey!
First of all, understand that overly critical thoughts are not helpful. They do not allow us to grow and they do not shape our successes. They do not build body confidence. Instead, they damage our self-image, how we value ourselves, and our feelings of self-worth.
This is why it is so important to practice mindfulness in regard to the language we use to when we speak to ourselves. It all starts with being mindful of when you are speaking or thinking poorly about yourself and your body. If you can recognize this self-criticism, you can stop it right in its tracks.
Want to know when your inner critic is speaking? Always challenge any negative thoughts with “would I say this to a friend or someone I love?” If the answer is no, you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself either.
Next, have an awareness that we all participate in self-doubt and criticism. Understanding that everyone has an inner critic damages the credibility of this critic, which takes away a bit of its influence over you. Think of someone who you admire, and then think about why. What kind of qualities do they have that make them so admirable?
Now, what if you knew for certain that they were insecure about that quality? That their inner critic told them they were not good enough, or that they weren’t smart, capable, funny, beautiful, or whichever quality you valued? Would you believe their inner critic? No? So why do you believe yours?
Once you can recognize this negative language, you can begin replacing these thoughts with positive ones instead. Practicing positive thinking and self-love has immense powers when it comes to changing the pathways in your brain. Pro tip: Check out Envision2bWell’s podcast with Joanna Kleinman where we discuss her new book, Dethroning Your Inner Critic. Learn how to take back your power!
Kleinman talks about the difference between silencing and dethroning your inner critic. This is a super important distinction to make. When you try to silence your inner critic (for example, you try to get rid of or ignore your negative thoughts), you’re fighting a futile battle. We are all human, and we all have insecurities and critiques that we tell ourselves on the daily.
Instead, try to dethrone your inner critic by taking away her power. Hear her words, recognize them as your inner critic’s, and don’t take them to heart. Understand that they’re coming from that critical place, which is not always helpful or good-intentioned. With practice, your negative thoughts will stop holding so much power over you. With even more practice, it’ll take less effort. One day, you’ll find that you have more naturally positive thoughts than negative ones.
Of course, this takes practice. To get in the groove of dethroning your inner critic, you can begin to actively replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Here comes body confidence! See a few examples below:
Turn “I have been so lazy today” into “My body needed rest today, and I listened to it.”
“My lips are so thin” changes to “My face is perfectly proportioned for my unique and beautiful look.”
And “I skipped my workout today, I feel so guilty” becomes “I prioritized quality family time today, but luckily there’s always tomorrow!”
Sometimes, the reframing takes more effort. It’s okay to ask a professional for help with tougher problems! With the right partner on your side, you’ll be able to also transform the following:
“I have no control over what and how much I eat at night,” can feel really upsetting. It can be turned into:
“I have the capability to implement an eating schedule that nourishes me throughout the day, so that I don’t feel restricted and binge at night.”
“I am never going to lose weight” becomes “I love and honor my body just the way it is. I want to build healthier habits (like eating nourishing foods and exercising) so that I have the space to live larger and longer.”
Have you thought of the above phrases as being body confident? Keep in mind that body confidence doesn't always look like "I love my body and I'm beautiful!" Sometimes, it's simply "I listened to my body today," and giving her what she needs in an appreciative and understanding manner.
This is the ultimate secret when it comes to body confidence, so I'll say it again: your body does not determine your worth. Tell yourself this every day. Write it down. Get it engraved on a bracelet. Put this quote as your phone background. Write it on your mirrors. It is something that is so easy to forget.
Here is a good practice to begin to change where we see our worth:
Write down everything that you like about yourself that has NOTHING to do with your appearance. Here are some examples: I am creative and smart. I am wildly generous. I love deeper than anyone I know. I am strong. I can hold a plank for 2 minutes and complete 15 pushups nonstop. I am determined. Once I set my mind to something, I make it happen. I am compassionate, I am always willing to help. If I fail, I pick myself up and try again.
… by replacing them with what you wrote above. You must train your brain here. Again, write this down anywhere and everywhere. Take note of similar behaviors in other people. Think about what you admire about them, what they do well, what makes them uniquely beautiful without ever looking at them. Start to admire those traits when you interact with people and compliment them for it. Watch them light up when you tell them they have “the biggest heart” - a compliment they are not used to getting.
With more practice, you can watch your instinctive thoughts change. Instead of valuing a small waist, you begin to value your ability to complete 15 pushups, or how you are always willing to lend a hand to those in need. You will recognize this change when it is the first thought you have, or when you begin to worry less about your body or your physical appearance.
When it comes to body confidence, you are allowed to find your body beautiful. You must also have the understanding though, that you are beautiful and good simply because you exist. Because you love and laugh, because you dance and sing, and because you simply are.
Compliment yourself every day with a focus on body confidence. While there should be a focus on who you are as a person, your body carries you from day-to-day and can feel like a crucial part of your identity. That being said, different people have different goals. If you are looking to fall in love with your body, you will want to stick to body positive thoughts about her. If you are looking to be neutral about your body, you might focus on complimenting your personality, value, and accomplishments. For me – I love a mix of both. Loving and appreciating my body is important to me. Due to this, I often compliment the way my body looks (and send a little extra love to the parts I’m still learning to love). There is no wrong answer when it comes to self-love and appreciation, just do what feels right.
Need some help with affirmations? Here are a few of my favorites:
You’re trying your best and that’s good enough.
You are strong, capable, and funny. (you can insert whichever qualities you value here!)
I am more than my body.
My body is not an apology.
I am uniquely and perfectly me.
I love my soft belly and rounder cheeks. (you can also insert different areas of your body here.)
Wondering how daily affirmations might show up in your day-to-day? Try waking up and immediately telling yourself “I’m going to have a great day today.” When you first look at yourself in the mirror, find something that you love. It can be anything from a freckle on your lip to how dewy and awake your skin looks. While eating breakfast, think about how the food choices you’ve made will nourish your body or your mind. When you look at your spouse, kids, or friends, congratulate yourself for filling your life with people who love and support you. During work, remind yourself that you are uniquely suited for your position. You have a breadth of knowledge and experience that boosts your value in the workplace.
You might feel a bit awkward at first, but it works. Trust me. Giving yourself daily affirmations is telling yourself exactly what you need to hear. After repeating these affirmations, you begin to believe them. Tell yourself that “you are beautiful” enough times, and you’ll start to believe it. This is how body confidence is created.
People are sometimes intimidated by meditation, mistakenly equating it with Buddhist monks up on a mountain top somewhere. But really, it’s much simpler and more attainable than that. All meditation requires is stillness and a focus on something. Typically, this focus is brought to your body or your breath. To start, you will want to find a calming place. Somewhere outdoors with a relaxing view could be helpful, or a clean, open space where you will not be interrupted. Your space is super important, as you want to remain calm. You can light a candle for ambiance, try aromatherapy, or find some meditation music to help get you in the right headspace.
Try closing your eyes, and first bringing your attention to your breath. Often, we believe that meditation is the absence of thoughts. Instead, allow any thoughts you have to come into focus and then let them go. Meditation is more so just bringing your attention back to whatever you are focusing on (in this example, your breathing). Whenever you have a good handle on meditation, you can take it a step further!
To make meditation a tool for practicing self-love, you may instead focus on sending positivity to the parts of your body that need it most. You may hype up the parts of your body that you already love. You may focus on all the amazing things that your body is capable of and celebrate it for that. You may also meditate on a body positive quote. There are a couple amazing ones throughout this article!
Unfollow any social media account that is harmful to your mental well-being. A quick list? People who make you feel less than. People who photoshop their pictures to create unrealistic standards of beauty. People who are your “body goals” and motivate you towards unhealthy habits. People who talk about and promote diet culture.
Ignore books, podcasts, blogs and advertisements that promote diet culture. Fad diets almost never work, and you cannot rely on all the “before” and “after” images you see. They are often photoshopped, or models will change their angles or poses to look thinner in the “after” photos. If a company is selling a product as a quick fix, or an easy way out, it is pure marketing. This means they do not have your health or well-being in mind, they just want to make money.
Social media can be a great tool if you make it one! Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all have body confident pages and resources. Here are my top tips for creating an uplifting environment every time you open your phone:
First, follow people who speak about body confidence. There are many accounts with many different people, all figuring out their own journey to body confidence. You want to flood yourself with feel-good quotes, reminders of self-love, and real people getting real about their struggles. Realizing that we all need help when it comes to body image, and we are all looking for acceptance and peace, is comforting. (I encourage you to follow @Envision2bWell on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!)
Next, representation matters!! Follow people who look like you. This one is super simple. All bodies are unique, but if you find people who remind you of yourself, you will have a tool to build a positive body image. It is much easier to see the beauty in others, but when these people remind us of ourselves, we get to keep a little bit of that beauty for ourselves. Hello body confidence!
Stepping away from social media, there are many other ways to consume body confident content. Search for books, podcasts, guided meditations, or even Ted talks that speak to body confidence! You can also check out conventions to learn all about body confidence. The Bod Con and the Rose Retreat are my favorites. We have an endless supply of knowledge at our fingertips. If the content you are consuming makes you feel guilty, it is not worth consuming. Instead, find resources that support your journey. They should preach self-compassion and acceptance and offer pathways to body confidence.
So why do we need body confidence and body positivity?
For ourselves. And for our children. Now more than ever, people of young ages have access to content that warps standards of beauty. Our only chance of fighting back is to practice body positivity daily.
Hopefully by now you can understand that body confidence and body positivity are learned skills. Luckily for us, self-love is not something we either “have” or “don’t have,” but instead is a skill that can be practiced every day. Take the above tips, apply them to your life, and watch how you change for the better.
Remember, in a world with ever-changing beauty standards, the one thing you can rely on is the way you feel about yourself. A positive body image never fades for long, and teaches you lessons on resilience and how to appreciate all types of beauty.
This is not to say that people with body confidence do not have poor body image days. They do. We do. We are all human, which means we all have tough days. The real benefit though is that those days become fewer and further between.
The bottom line is that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to be confident and comfortable. You deserve to show up as you are. You are worthy - and you’ve got this.
Go forth and be body confident!
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