Body Neutrality: When body love doesn’t seem real

Those of us who treat eating disorders, disordered eating, or just women in America would like see our clients have more positive self-talk, especially around body image. Unfortunately, body positivity may be a little ambitious…for all of us, not just our clients.


Let’s face it. Our bodies do no always do what we want them to do. Sometimes, we get injured or have a chronic illness. Sometimes, it’s just age-related changes. Whatever the reason, our bodies are imperfect. It may even feel like it fails us at times.


Because we are continually dealing with the limits of our bodies, that aspired-too body positivity can lack the authenticity we need to believe it. Know what? That’s ok. You don’t have to love your body. The most important thing is to let go of body hate.


Body hate is detrimental in ways most of us don’t appreciate. To assess your own self-talk around your body, check out The Reflection Exercise . You probably found that your self-talk around your body is pretty harsh, and that you end up feeling hurt, anxious, or otherwise terrible. It’s easy to see how unproductive those feelings are. How can you get anything done when you’re so distracted by those intense feelings?!


The trick here isn’t necessarily to go in the opposite direction entirely, into thinking why you love your body so much. It’s to much of a leap to really internalize and make useful.


The middle step is BODY NEUTRALITY! Maybe one day you’ll get to body positivity. Maybe not. The important thing is to get away from the hate and the negativity.


So, how do you get to body neutrality?


Step 1: Go back to the reflection exercise and take a look at your thoughts.
Step 2: Take a DEEP BREATH! 7 seconds in, 7 seconds out. Even if you do nothing else, take that breath. Give yourself a reprieve from the negativity. Oxygen will flood your brain and you will be able to think clearer.
Step 3: Write down a neutral statement about your body for every negative thought that you had. Remember to FOCUS ON FACT. For example, if one of your thoughts was “My thighs are too big”, then you can write “My thighs allow me to walk.” 
Step 4: Whenever you find yourself hating your body, repeat your body neutral statements. 
Step 5: After a week or so of repeating neutral statements, try the reflection exercise again.

Please share your thoughts about body neutrality. Is it easier? Does it ring true for you? How did the exercise go?


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