Can you be overweight and HAPPY?
The answer is YES!
For all those sceptics out there who are scoffing at this – WAIT! It is possible. But you've got to be prepared to do the work!
I'm not talking about dieting, exercising* (*insert treatment of your choice) or any of the other things we do to lose weight (etc.) in order to feel good about ourselves. I'm talking about doing the work required to become mindful of how we think about ourselves, and taking positive action to address the thinking that no longer serves us. Now, I'm NOT saying that we shouldn't exercise, eat healthily, wax, dye, tighten, tone..... Not at all. I'm saying it's not enough to focus on changing our physical appearance. We need to focus on changing our minds about our physical appearance.
So, how do we begin to do this?
First, we need to understand where our thinking comes from.
We all live in a body. Our bodies are the boundary between us, and that which is 'not us'. This means that our bodies represent who we are in our own and in others' eyes, and so we build a basic sense of identity based in our experience of what we look like –we grow up believing that we're defined by the way we look.
Combine this with a culture which tends to focus on the negative, and on correcting the ways in which we're not good enough, strong enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, toned enough... and we have a problem. The belief that we are what we look like, and the fact that we are continually alerted to the negative, means that 99.9% of us grow up with body image dissatisfaction.
So, why can't we just exercise more, eat less, pluck, wax, laser, peel, freeze, tighten, tan, lift, fill...? Because these things don't solve the basic problem – our thinking.
Let's explore the impact of our thinking.
Your thinking determines your attitude towards and feelings about your body. This affects the way you feel about yourself as a whole, the way you treat yourself, and the way in which you interact with your world (including your relationships). Body–image is a multi-faceted concept – one which has an enormous impact on your quality of life. Here are a few of the beliefs & assumptions that we live with – look out for any that resonate with you.
- Physically attractive people have it all
- Beautiful people are happy
- My worth as a person depends on how I look
- I should always try to look my best
- The first thing people notice about me is what's wrong with how I look
- If people knew how I really look, they'd probably like me less
- The way I look is responsible for much of what has happened to me in my life
- The only way I could ever accept myself &/ my looks is by changing my looks
- I have to look perfect to feel personally fulfilled
These are just some of the thoughts that play repetitively in our heads, and which create feelings of unhappiness, stress, inadequacy and worthlessness. It is only by challenging these faulty assumptions that we can access self-acceptance, a belief in our value and worth just as we are, and allow ourselves to choose happiness and fulfilment in our lives.
Addressing body image dissatisfaction thus requires an approach which is holistic, and sets you up to succeed.
Imagine if we could address our dissatisfaction with our bodies from a perspective of deep love, care for and kindness towards ourselves? If we could begin the process of weight loss – or whatever aspect of your physical appearance you're unhappy with – with an attitude of "I matter, just as I am, and so I choose to address the things that undermine me". This thinking sets me up to succeed, because I'm taking back control of my thoughts, my feelings and my choices.
The thinking that "I'm disgusting", or "I'm not good enough", " or "I need to fix my imperfections to be lovable & acceptable" sets me up to fail, because I feel hopeless, despairing, and unworthy of the time & effort to feel good.
Approaching body image dissatisfaction from a place where I believe in my value & worth, makes the whole process much more sustainable, changes my thinking about my physical appearance, and allows me to recognise that my body – my physical appearance – is only one part of who I am. I realise that I am more than what I look like.