8 Keys To a Healthy Relationship With Your Body
The mirror doesn’t lie…or does it?
More accurately, it is the internal eyes of the one looking in the mirror that can distort, shame, and yes lie, negatively shaping the way we see ourselves, our bodies, and our beauty. Our thoughts are powerful to define what we believe about ourselves. Our value. Our worth. Our belovedness.
We tell ourselves…
· My body is shameful.
· No one could love me as I am.
· I am a failure.
· I do not deserve love.
· If I could just drop 15 lbs, then I would be happy.
· Why bother?
Many of us internalize messages starting at a young age that will either lead to a positive or negative body image. We watch our parents, we absorb the words they speak, the attitudes they hold, the thoughts they believe about themselves and others. We listen to peers at school, at play. Their words seep into the deepest places inside and adhere themselves to our souls, vastly impacting the way we see ourselves and our bodies.
Social media certainly doesn’t help. One CNN article described the impact of being exposed to more and more images of unattainable beauty, thanks to social networking: ‘Before social networks, we mostly had images of impossibly perfect celebrities. We would pass these images on billboards, watch them on TV, flip through them in magazines, but we weren't sitting around staring at them for hours every day.’
It’s not only the exposure to these images that is damaging. It’s our interaction with them—the pressure we place on having the perfect profile pictures, the comparisons we make about every image we see, and the dangers of the constant scrutiny of our own and others’ bodies—that has the greatest negative impact on our wellbeing.
Having a healthy body image is an important part of our emotional wellbeing. It is also equally important for eating disorders prevention in ourselves and in our kids. We will pass down to them the attitudes, beliefs, and distortions we hold about our own bodies. They will see, they will hear how we talk about other peoples’ bodies and will define themselves by the same standards.
The Bible commands us to, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ yet how do we love anyone in our lives if we hate ourselves, if we shame our bodies, and demean His very creation? We cannot. No. We cannot.
Here are 8 ways you can start TODAY to turn negative body thoughts into positive body image. The more you practice these new thought patterns, the better you will feel about who you are and the body God gave you.
1. Appreciate the things your body does for you.
Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Your body allows you to engage in God’s purposes for your life. Your body was beautifully designed by an amazing Creator. Instead of focusing on the negative qualities or attributes you don’t like, remind yourself of all of the gifts your body gives you—running, dancing, working, breathing, laughing, dreaming, praying.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14(NIV)
2. Create a list of attributes you like about yourself.
Take some time to reflect on physical, emotional, and spiritual attributes—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Write them down. Read your list often. Try to find things you can add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10(NIV)
3. Remember that real beauty is not simply skin-deep.
Beauty is a state of the mind and heart, not a state of your body. CLICK TO TWEET The most beautiful people I know are people who know their belovedness—who live, who love, who give the gifts of acceptance and kindness they have already received. We can cultivate a heart and a life that exudes the love of Christ. CLICK TO TWEET We are powerful to become compassion-warriors and grace-givers to the people we encounter. CLICK TO TWEET
But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.’ 1 Samuel 16:7(NIV)
4. Stop looking for validation from others.
When we find ourselves craving validation about how we look from others, it becomes an insatiable addiction, never giving us the acceptance or belonging we truly desire and leaving us perpetually thirsty for more. Instead, write down the things you long to hear most from others and begin to speak them to yourself. When you feel the urge to ask for validation directly or indirectly, don’t. Remind yourself of what God thinks about you. Speak the things to yourself that you long to hear most.
Other people do not have the power to heal us. They are fighting their own battles, struggling with their own fears and wounds. Only God and you hold the power to heal you. CLICK TO TWEET
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14(NIV)
5. Surround yourself with emotionally and spiritually healthy people.
We are always strengthened when we are around those who are mature, both spiritually and emotionally. Others who have a healthy body image, who feel good about themselves, who know and live out their belovedness on a daily basis can help you stay focused on the values and qualities that are most important.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)
From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:16 (ESV)
To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:12 (ESV)
6. Become a critical viewer of social media.
Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Create affirmations you can repeat when you see images or posts that discourage you about your worth or body image. Remind yourself of the truth of your value and worth. You must keep yourself centered or social media will leave you spinning inside.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8(NIV)
7. Be kind to yourself.
Do something kind for yourself every day. Ask yourself, How could I honor my body spiritually, emotionally, and physically today? Find one activity, one habit, one moment you could implement something that would nurture healing and wholeness in your heart. Success won’t happen at once—it will happen in a million tiny moments we choose kindness over condemnation, healing over hatred, compassion over shame.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church… Ephesians 5:29(NIV)
8. Serve others.
Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world. Serving others helps take our mind off the enormity of our struggles and allows us to balance them with the needs and struggles of others. We become myopic when we exist in isolation, but when we serve, we can see Christ at work around us. It fills a deep reservoir of grace inside us when we allow ourselves to be Christ to others who are hurting and in need.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13(NIV)
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38(NIV)
How are you nurturing your body image?
How are you walking in your belovedness, friend?
What is one thing you could do today to develop a healthier relationship with your body?
About This Community
Don't we all want a little peace? My heart for this community is to provide just that - a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships. Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I've discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
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