The American concept of beauty is a lofty standard to measure up to. It’s no wonder you may be living with a negative physical self-image, but there is an answer. You have the power to shift your attitude and achieve a body shape and self worth that you’re truly proud of. Learn that by setting doable goals for your body and changing your mind about your abilities, you will renew your relationship with your body and realize an empowering level of self-esteem.
Negative body image seems to be a curse of humanity. From foot binding and corsets to fad diets and control-top pantyhose, each age of recorded history, including the American concept of beauty, offers a method to manipulate our natural form to become more desirable. Whatever each era’s beauty ideal is, the fact is very few men or women meet these standards, but the quests persist nonetheless, and can too easily leave you living with a negative physical self image. While you are likely well aware of human virtue beyond the corporeal, let’s face it—you do have to live with your body shape and self worth. So why not learn to love it? Whether you think you’re too fat, too thin, or too weak, when you continue viewing your body as imperfect, you damage your confidence and overall self worth. It may keep you from dating, from enjoying intimacy with your partner, or from taking a more progressive role in your career. A poor relationship with your thighs, arms, or breasts doesn’t sound like a valid reason for missing out on so much, does it? It shouldn’t be—by changing your mind about your abilities, you transform not only your body image but also your body itself. Properly challenge your self-esteem to learn that your body is designed to be a source of freedom!
Our minds have such immense control of our bodies, but it’s difficult to truly appreciate this force unless you’re challenging yourself to physical growth and success. For example, I know a woman who recently completed her first mountain bike race. The relay-style format required her and her teammates to ride a grueling course at all hours of day and night. She entered the race with no prior racing experience and without any recreational performance at this level. However, the effort was a success—she and her team performed beyond their expectations, placing ahead of many seasoned racers. When I asked her for an explanation for such a remarkable result, she credited a complete mental transformation. By deciding that her body was capable and that she was not inferior to anyone on the course, she overcame a self-image of a less athletic individual and replaced it with strength and confidence. In the process, she also watched her body become stronger and became genuinely proud of its new form.
This woman’s story is testimony to the mind’s power to transform the body, and exemplifies the reward of setting doable goals for your body. Her experience has changed her relationship with her body. Instead of I wish my legs were thinner, she now thinks my legs are powerful and I’m grateful for their ability. The power to shift your attitude is critical: by finding and pursuing an activity you enjoy, your body becomes a valuable tool for bringing you pleasure. Whether you’re energized by exercise-produced endorphins or enjoy a gorgeous view during your hike, you learn what your body can do for you. You’ll then want to honor and nurture it, and you’ll be invigorated with each accomplishment.
My bike-racing friend went on to explain that having this physical goal also improved her relationship with food by making the restrictions of eating right a welcome benefit. If you struggle with body image, you may view food as a bad, guilt-inducing element. When you give your body a purpose, food becomes essential nourishment. Once you take pride in your body, you will also discover that you want to feed it as well as possible. Hence, the combination of exercise and good nutrition will make you healthier than ever. So, by believing in your capabilities and choosing a physical goal of any level, you create a positive cycle with benefits that only increase with time. You will be empowered by your actual improved energy levels and learn to accept and love your own body.
Most importantly, you’ll experience a concrete example of the power your mind has to transform your life. Many of the areas we seek to improve and grow in don’t offer physical results, but by pursuing one that does, you’ll gain unwavering confidence and understanding of your magical potential.