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Anxious Because Your Jeans Are Too Tight?

Apr 13, 2008
So you're not anorexic, you're not bulimic, and you don't binge eat . . . most of the time. But do you love your body? According to the latest statistics, the answer is probably "no".

If you don't love your body, you may be stifling your creativity, draining your energy, and limiting your potential. You may be flirting subtly - and not so subtly - with body loathing, a condition which, if left unchecked, can turn into a serious disorder.

Most people don't have acute eating disorders, but 80 to 90% of adult women dislike their bodies. Incredibly, 15% of women say they would sacrifice more than five years of their lives to be thinner, and 24% say they would sacrifice up to three years of their life. These numbers are equally disturbing for girls, of whom 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat, and the number one wish of girls 11 to 17 years old is to lose weight.

The fact is that if you are not proactive in affirming your natural beauty and self worth, chances are that you are reacting to a society that constantly says you are not good enough or at least that you should be better than you are. In a society that constantly promotes weight loss, wrinkle free, and youthful beauty, it can be a Herculean task to feel good about yourself as you are.

If you don't feel great about your own body, chances are your daughter will face a similar struggle. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your own body acceptance as well as empower your children to fully accept themselves.

What is Body Loathing?

While the term may be unknown, the experience of body loathing is familiar to most women. Body loathing is characterized by a feeling of preoccupation and dissatisfaction with one's appearance. It includes anxiety over particular parts of your body, shame and guilt over real or imaged physical flaws, and generally results in self consciousness and envy.

There are a number of signs that you may be suffering from body loathing. Ask yourself the following questions and answer honestly. If you engage in the following activities, you may not be fully in love with your fabulous body.

Do you:

1. Avoid looking in mirrors?
2. When you do look in the mirror, do you obsess about a particular body part or perceived flaw?
3. Dread trying on clothes?
4. Become depressed after trying on clothes?
5. Experience anxiety about your jeans feeling tight?
6. Avoid bathing suits or shorts because of body dissatisfaction?
7. Worry regularly about gaining weight?
8. Feel uncomfortable being naked and feel like you need to "hide"?
9. Become self conscious when your lover caresses certain parts of your body?
10. Suck in your stomach when you see your reflection in a window?
11. Beat yourself up if you eat too much at one meal?

Many of these behaviors are considered "normal" for women in today's culture. In fact, you may have these experiences multiple times each and every day. What you may fail to understand is the negative effect these thoughts and beliefs have on your well being.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence explaining how our thoughts and emotions influence our physiology. When we think negative thoughts or experience negative emotions, there is a direct impact on our psychophysiology - or our mind-body link. This is especially true when the negative thoughts and emotions are directed towards ourselves.

Whenever we think negative thoughts about ourselves, we are affirming the notion that we are not good enough as we are. The more we believe we are not good enough, the worse we feel. The worse we feel, the less energy we have and the less effective we can be in every area of our lives.

Our vibrancy, enthusiasm, and creativity, slowly get siphoned away. Rather than being engaged in the world to make a difference, our talents become co-opted by negative body thoughts.

Conversely, when we feel great about ourselves, we can accomplish the miraculous and live extraordinary lives. When we love and accept ourselves fully, we become capable of feats we never even believed were possible. The better we feel about our bodies, the more we are willing to love and accept ourselves fully, the greater our ability to create and live the life of our dreams.

Here are some tips for overcoming body loathing and unleashing your power and your potential:

- Cultivate gratitude. Every day, come up with a list of 5 things that you are grateful for about yourself. Gratitude is a potent force that can transform your negative outlook into a positive one.
- Be conscious about your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking a negative body thought, choose not to listen to it.
- Re-populate your thinking. When you get rid of a negative body thought, come up with something positive to say to yourself instead.
- Focus on noticing the beauty in everyone you see. As you break free from the hypnosis of social conditioning you will find beauty in yourself and everyone around you.
- Learn to meditate. Meditation will help you break free from habitual thought patterns and programmed responses

Refuse to allow society to determine your self worth. Instead, set a new standard for beauty and be proactive in affirming yourself.
About the Author
Sarah Maria is a body-image expert and personal empowerment coach who helps people love their bodies no matter how they look. She leads workshops and works one-on-one in consulting sessions to assist people in overcoming hatred and dissatisfaction with their bodies using holistic healing and spiritual principles.
Get her FREE e-book: "5 Steps to Loving What You See in the Mirror"
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