I have had several clients who report having a poor body image. I remind them, “Your body changes with your experiences”. With age, we all change. Adolescents go through puberty, mothers’ bodies change after giving birth, adults grow grey hair and develop wrinkles. There are periods in life when we might have a lot of stress that can lead to a change in appetite, a change in weight, and changes in our skin. When clients have a poor body image and are comparing their current body to how they looked in the past, I help them see it from a different perspective. Here is a simple activity that can remind you of how your body changes with your experiences.
First, think about the time in your past that you are comparing your current body to. This could be a time when you felt stronger, were thinner, had more defined cheekbones, clearer skin, etc.
Second, find a picture of you from that time in your past. Then, find a recent picture of yourself.
Thirdly, write down all of the things you have accomplished, gained, or grown through since the picture of you in the past. Here are some examples. Graduating with a degree or getting a job promotion. Getting into a relationship, ending an unhealthy relationship, finding a new place to live, or having children. Growing through a stressful experience, a major loss, or healing from a traumatic event.
Finally, look at the the recent picture of you and say all of these positive changes out loud. Remind yourself of what is true. Yes, you might have more wrinkles than you would like or weight differently, etc. But you also have experienced so much and are a different person. Although you are more satisfied with the body you had in the picture of you from the past, you did not have all of the skills and experiences the present you has today.
Consider doing this activity and looking at your body changes from a different perspective. If you would like to learn more about and work on your body image, reach out to us at The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center. We offer in-office and virtual sessions.
Written by Angela Zender
Anxiety coach at The Lighthouse