When you have been born and bred into a society that hails thin bodies as the only acceptable body type, it is difficult to shift this notion when you yourself do not fall within this 'socially accepted' body.
It's no wonder that so many of us suffer a collapse of self-esteem when we are surrounded by such messages and images. But far from letting ourselves wallow in our own negative self-esteem, why not try these five things and see if you can banish those bad habits?
HOLDING ON TO 'GOAL' CLOTHES
Blogger Arianna Rebolini writes: "I was facing a closet that told me my body wasn't right... my clothes were undoing years of work toward accepting my body as-is, coaxing me into old beliefs". Often, we keep hold of that pair of jeans or this dress hoping and praying that one day we will be thin enough to fit in it once more. 'Goal clothes' are further encouraging your own negative image ideals about your own body, for if you can't fit into these items, then you are somehow less worthy a person. So, as Arianna did, why not go through your wardrobe and get rid of anything that doesn't fit you, anything that you don't love, and anything that you've had for longer than 3 months and still has the tag on. You'll find this therapeutic, you might even make some money if you sell on your old clothes, and with that money you can treat yourself to a whole new wardrobe that FITS you and WON'T make you feel bad about yourself.
Growing up, I would question if I looked okay, if people liked me, if I was wearing the right clothes, if I was attractive, if I was taking up the right amount of space, if that photo erred on the 'right side' of fat, if people were using me - the list goes on. One of the best things that I try to do every day is stick a lollipop in the mouth of that little voice in my head and sending it off to the naughty-step - and it is incredibly effective. Living with anxiety is hard, but if you can find what works for you when you want a bit of peace and quiet from your internal monologue, then you won't look back. You don't need to question your ever movement, decision, the way that you look or how you're behaving - you are fine as you are, okay?
BREAKING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
A comfort zone is a cushioned, safe place to be - simply put, your well-rehearsed routine provides a state of mental security which minimises stress and increases your levels of happiness. You know exactly what will happen and when, and your boundaries are only pushed as much as you allow them - but what happens when you let your guard down and the unknown in? I try to push myself outside of my comfort zone and it can prove to be an awkward (at first) yet ultimately rewarding experience. Since discovering that I am actually able to make my own decisions and go against how society has told me to behave, I have realised that my body does not and should not restrict me if I want to achieve something. You CAN wear that thing you've always wanted to wear, you CAN enjoy yourself free from judgement, you CAN veer from your comfort zone and do great things, you just need to have some faith in yourself.
ENGAGING IN NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
I guarantee that there isn't a day that goes by where some little nugget of negativity pops up in your mind. By allowing these thoughts to filter through, you are further encouraging low self-esteem. We are constantly fed negative ideas about ourselves, but we forget this one important thing - we are in control of our minds. Only we can decide how we speak and think about our bodies, no matter what we might have been told. Negative self-talk is dangerous and if you entertain it then a breakdown of any positive work will be imminent. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others and feel envious about their attributes, but don't forget, you too have your fair share of positive attributes - so why not take the time and energy you spend putting others on a pedestal, and put yourself up there instead for a change?
NOT TAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF
We live in a fast-past world that is filled with demands. We have to navigate and manage work, a social life, relationships, our hobbies, money, home-life. The list of our responsibilities is pretty much endless, but there is something more important than these that we rarely think about - ourselves. It is not narcissistic or conceited to put yourself first sometimes. The world is stressful, and it is so integral to retain a healthy mindset that we take time for ourselves to indulge in the things that make us happy. For goodness sake do what makes you happy, I can't express this enough, make yourself happy.