Body Image

“Healthy emotions come in all sizes. Healthy minds come in all sizes. And healthy bodies come in all sizes.” – Cheri K. Erdman

Have you ever thought about your body image? Chances are you have probably given it a lot of thought because it is the front you have to present to the world and you would like to present the best appearance. There are very few people not bothered about the appearance of their body.

What is Body Image?

“Body image” is how you feel about your  body in your own mind. Sometimes the image in your mind somewhat matches the image other people have of you. But a lot of the time however, you view your body in a distorted way. You notice the flaws more than other people would. You can exaggerate the negative parts of your body in the distorted mirror you see. Only it is not the mirror nor the body which is distorted but the thoughts running through your head about your body.

Studies show that our own perception of our body is more important than what other people think of our body. You may look beautiful but if you choose to focus on a flaw, this imperfection will be magnified in your mind and when you look in the mirror, you will see an exaggeration of the flawed image of yourself.

A lot of factors influence body image such as personal experiences and personality. The concept of your own physical appearance is mostly internal. Other important factors influencing your body image are your emotions and moods. Being in a good mood you may have a positive body image. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, your body image might be mostly negative.

Whatever our body image, these thoughts affect our behaviour. If you are positive about your body, the confidence shows in your body language. If you feel negative about your body, the awkwardness will show up in your behaviour. If you imagine you have a beautiful body regardless of your flaws, your positive behaviour may serve to drive the attention of other people away from your flaws and concentrate on your confident personality instead.

The group most affected by body image are women. Anxiety about body image is mostly experienced by teenage girls as they are the most vulnerable group in society, although boys too may suffer but to a lesser extent. Teenagers look towards society and media portrayal as to what the ideal body image is and try to emulate this.

Have you accepted your body for what it is even taking pride in your physic or do you cringe at the sight of yourself in the mirror?

If you suffer from a negative image of yourself try considering the following:

  • Accept that there are certain things about your body you are unable to change which are predetermined by your genetics. You are unique.
  • Weight is something you can do deal with. It is largely controllable if you put your mind to it.
  • The most important thing is to keep your body as healthy as possible by exercising and eating a balanced diet.
  • Unless you are aiming for a specific event such as running a marathon, there really is no need to incorporate a heavy exercise routine into your lifestyle. Simply increasing your physical activity on a daily basis is enough to keep you healthy.

Studies have shown that with age, we become more accepting of our body. So relax in the knowledge that you have a unique body and look after it well. Accept it and nurture it the way it is.

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“What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it – would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have.”

Ralph Marston

 You have probably been grateful many times in your life, for instance when you had that brush with a near death experience. It stopped you in your tracks and suddenly made you feel grateful for simply being alive.

Small doses of Gratitude

A lot of the time, most of us face undue stress from our environment such as work, relationships and home. You may be thinking that it is rather difficult to sustain gratefulness when you are weighed down with life’s everyday burdens.

Sometimes we forget to be grateful which can make us become more negative. The ungrateful person focuses on the misery in his life. He closes off the avenue to freshness and wonders that he could grab if only he were thankful.

When you find yourself frustrated at life’s unfairness, just pause a moment and reflect on what you do have. You will find that there is indeed so much to be thankful for. Just look around yourself and take everything in at a slower pace. Things you have overlooked that help to maintain your everyday life.

Suggestions for starting to make that little change in life towards gratitude:

  1. Make a list or map of all the things working well for you.
  2. Take a few moments each day to say a silent prayer of gratitude.
  3. Be thankful for the lessons that life is teaching you patiently.

We certainly don’t need to shout from the rooftops when we are grateful, but sometimes you need to ask yourself, am I neglecting to thank those around me that are always there for us when I need them? What if all the other wonderful things you love were to be removed from your life? What would you be left with?

Gratitude is something we can all practice, whatever our belief system. Even when a small dose of gratitude is planted into your mind like a seed, your thoughts become all powerful and positive. Your mind begins to gear up for something wonderful.

Next time you are with someone you love or admire, take a few moments to let them know. It doesn’t have to be in words. You can say it with that extra lingering smile or even another type of loving gesture. Perhaps you are the card type – whatever it is – show your appreciation and you find that the warmth which radiates back will touch your soul.

Have you ever felt gratitude so strong that it becomes overpowering in a good warm way until you have that feeling of being at one with everything around you? That’s one of the enlightening moments in life that make you feel you belong. The more gratitude you have, the more at peace you become with your life.

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Living in your Shadow

It was not so long ago in my mind, but many years have elapsed since, if the truth be known. There were many prospects then I suppose. So much has changed since I stopped living in your shadow.

Perhaps in my mind, these years have passed in sorrow that we stood under the apple tree, both aglow. Sometimes I resented you but mostly I felt proud. I have grown up now, but much of my young life I remember having spent living in your shadow.

Where did you go because when I turned around I was left on my own? When I saw you again, you spoke with a distant tone. How strange that you should compare me to you when a lifetime of mine has been wasted living in your shadow?

Could you not see that I was truly happy before all this misunderstanding arose? You did as you pleased – still filling me with awe. Sometimes you fought with me, other times you loved me, holding me close. It made me realize your value. But all the same I remained living in your shadow.

When you were gone, I began to see for the sun hit me directly, almost burning me, forcing me to grow in whichever direction it went and the wind swept me up twirling me around until I learned to hold onto something tight and let go at just the right moment. That’s when I longed to be living in the splendour of your shadow.

Come with me and hold my hand for I have noticed in this baking heat that somehow or other, my shadow has grown much larger than yours. You look all withered and vulnerable, not at all the way I remember. From this moment I will hold you close, for now you may live huddles close, under my magnificent shadow.

You can no longer give me the shelter I was seeking or believed I needed. Even though I have grown into this fully fledged beauty, I survived on my own. You allowed me to grow in my own way and choose my own direction. Despite it all, I am now grateful, as you made me realize it was so much safer living in your shadow.

By Ms April Showers

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