Last week, I talked about how I’ve started to focus more on what my body can do, instead of what it looks like and how it’s given me a huge sense of appreciation for my body.
It’s just one of many things I’ve been doing on a regular basis to transform the way I feel about my body. Loving or liking your body is a “practice”. We practice yoga, we practice sports, we practice before giving a presentation or dance recital. And yes, changing how we feel about our bodies or how we feel around food requires creating a practice of sorts. Today I’m sharing the 3rd “practice” in my body image toolbox.
The third thing I’ve done is that I look for what is beautiful about other people’s bodies.
I started to purposely pay attention to what I liked about other people’s bodies.
Please note, this is not the same thing as comparing myself to other people’s bodies and this is not the same thing as compiling a list of bodies I like or body features I wish I had.
I don’t do “body inspo”.
Instead I tasked myself with finding something “good” about everyone I meet, rather than comparing myself to them.
Seeing a stranger and thinking about what nice eyes they have, how strong their shoulders look or liking how they carry themselves helps me to see the good things about my own body too.
When you are highly critical of yourself, often our first response with another person is to find things to tear down about them too (it’s not really about them, it’s about our own disgust with ourselves). If I think I’m fat, I may look at another person and decide if they are fatter or skinnier than I am. If I feel like my face is ugly, I may look at someone else and try to determine if they are worse looking than I am. I know it sound really screwed up and terrible to admit that on my worst days of body hatred, I’d sometimes look at other people and pick apart their features. It’s awful. I feel like a horrible person for admitting to that but I know that I’m not alone in this. I’ve had countless other women admit to me the same terrible habit. It’s the normal MO when we’re highly critical of ourselves. We do it to make ourselves feel better, but it honestly doesn’t do that – you then feel bad about your body still and now you feel like you’re a bad person for having these kind of thoughts about how someone else looks.
I basically worked on doing the opposite. And it helps my body image in a big way. And I don’t feel like a jerk for the types of thoughts I have about other people anymore.
If I can take the time to find negative things about another person’s appearance, I can take time to find positive things about their appearance. Finding positive, charming and appealing things about every body I encounter has made me more gentle towards my own body and kinder and more gentle towards other people too.
I like this person so much better.
I’ve been doing this swap in behavior for so long now that it’s becoming automatic. I’m less likely to attack my own body and I’m less likely to try to build myself up by tearing someone else down. And this switch has been one of the easiest ones I’ve made (isn’t that rare in this body image / food relationship world!?).
If you try practicing this, be very conscious about whether or not you are finding good things about other people and then comparing for a lack of that quality in yourself. It’s a tricky line and we want to put that comparison part down. Just because someone else has a beautiful smile doesn’t mean that your smile needs improvement. One person’s appealing traits doesn’t mean there isn’t enough to go around for you. If you find looking for positives in other people’s physical appearance to be triggering (I definitely can see how it could be for some), then a better alternative would be to look for things you like about that person in general. Are they kind? Do they have a good heart? Do they seem genuine / sincere? etc. Sometimes we can sense these things in another even if we have just met them and looking for the glimmer of these good things in another can make you feel better about your fellow humans and that may translate into you being kinder to yourself too.
Keep an eye out for part 4 next week!
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