As winter marches toward spring, any perceived lack of progress toward the new year’s weight loss goals may lead to frustration with what you see in the mirror. That frustration can either provide an extra boost of motivation, or a destructive dose of self-loathing which can lead to a whole host of negative health effects.
Fortunately, kindness can be a conduit for channeling frustration into positive motivation –the kind of single-minded determination needed to meet distant-seeming goals. Thinking kind thoughts about whatever you see in the mirror allows you to strike a rational balance between the very real biological need to maintain a healthy weight and the very real psychological need to accept yourself the way you are.
If these observations resonate with you, I invite you to stop for a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and commit to being kind to whatever you see in the mirror right now.
The health experts at KidsHealth.org put it this way, “If you have a positive body image, you… like and accept yourself the way you are, even if you don’t fit some media ‘ideal.’ ” The site goes on to explain that the healthy attitude accompanying a positive body image allows people to more fully experience life, and allows them to build the lifelong habits necessary for optimum health.
The bullet points below are some practical tips and concepts that represent a means of supporting positive body image building with daily kindness practices. The tips are adapted from HealthyKids.org, and are useful for people of all ages.
- Changing the way you think about yourself not only helps you see your body differently, but it influences all the decisions you make regarding physical changes to the way you look.
- Your body is YOURS, no matter what shape, color, or size it is. Furthermore, it is no one’s business but your own what your body is like.
- Focus on what your body CAN do, not what it cannot.
- Remind yourself often that real people are not perfect and “perfect” people are not real.
- Identify which aspects of your body you can realistically change and which aspects are not realistically changeable. If there are things about yourself you want to change, and you can realistically change them, set measurable goals, keep track of your progress, and don’t stop until the goals are met.
- When you notice that you are thinking a negative thought, stop, breathe deeply, and think of a positive thought with which to replace it. Try focusing on what is unique and interesting about you.
- Build your self-esteem by giving yourself at least three compliments each day.
- Each evening, list three things in your day that brought you pleasure or joy no matter how simple or small those things may seem. Yes, the gentle coolness of the breeze on your face when you walked to your car, or the fact that your favorite song was played on the radio, both count. The point is to notice and appreciate them.
- Remember that focusing on the good will change your perspective, so keep focusing.
- If any of the above tips seem impossible to incorporate into your life, reach out for help from a trusted friend, counselor, coach, or therapist.
Kindness can serve as a bridge from frustration to success. Directing true, realistic, and unconditional acts of kindness toward yourself can be a powerful motivation booster because motivation born of love and kindness always takes you farther than motivation born of fear and loathing. Remember that you committed to losing weight because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. When you commit to being kind to yourself throughout the process, you’ll meet your goals and more.