Free Yourself from Body Dissatisfaction

by GEM Magazine / Jul 21, 2015 / Comments

I invite you to walk with me, down the path of your imagination: I want you to imagine a state of being in which feelings about your body do not impact your mood, sense of self-worth, feelings of accomplishment, or the way that you perceive yourself in comparison to others. What would that be like for you? What would you do or accomplish that you are not undertaking today? How would your life be different if the size and shape of your body had zero consequence in the way that you experience life?

I know first hand that body dissatisfaction can lead to personal, social, and professional paralysis. It is important to understand that what you are dealing with is a series of powerful feelings. Feelings are not facts and you do not have to remain subject to them. Feelings of shame and dissatisfaction regarding one’s body are extremely harmful. They often lead to depression, and provide zero benefit in terms of positively impacting your health. These feelings are intrusive and disruptive.

So how to deal with them effectively?

Step one is awareness. You are capable of identifying and calling out a negative automatic thought. Be consistent in gaining awareness of these thoughts and how they impact you. A mantra that I like to use is;

“This is a negative automatic thought and I do not have to be subject to it.”  

You may begin to notice patterns. Pay attention to those patterns and the behavior, individuals, or medium that is triggering you. Examples of possible triggers include eating certain foods, hanging out with people who disparage others, or looking at fashion magazines or television shows that highlight unrealistic ideals of beauty. You will become a detective in your own life and collect data about things that are unhealthy for you to engage in.

Step two is to deal with and then replace the negative automatic thought. Once you have gained a little bit of mastery over pausing and identifying a negative automatic thought, you can begin the process of getting rid of it. Define your experience; “This is a negative thought,” then replace it with an internal statement about what you want to think, feel, and experience instead.

Here is an example;
You are getting dressed to go to a party and are dissatisfied with the way that you look.  

Step one – Notice that these are negative automatic thoughts and you don’t have to be subject to them.

Step two – Say something along the lines of; “I want to think that my clothing is nice and fits me well. I want to feel a sense of peace and confidence as I prepare to go out and have fun. I want to experience a sense of joy that I have plans for the evening that I have been looking forward to and friends that I love.”

This is a very simplistic technique. It provides us with relief in the moment and if we use it consistently, we will actually change the way our thought process responds to troubling stimuli.  

We don't have to be prisoners of our own thoughts. By observing and choosing to replace the negative thoughts, it can rewire our brains and lead us towards a more positive outlook.

Stopping this self judgement will not only impact how we see ourselves but also our lives and the people in it.

By Noelle Cordeaux.

Noelle is a professional coach and graduate student specializing in positive psychology, self-esteem, body image, weight loss, relationships, and sexuality. A veteran of the wellness industry, Noelle recently launched her own blog She also teaches/writes for The Angry Therapist and runs workshops on health, wellness, confidence, goal setting theory, and positive psychology for Widener University.

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