I used to envision that there would be a point where I'd arrive with intuitive eating and body image. Like, one day I'd just wake up and love my body and food would always be easy. But I think that the goal is more continuous learning rather than arriving. We're all on a journey and I still have less-than-kind thoughts pop up about my body sometimes, but they're further apart, less loud, and I don't react as quickly or deeply to them. Depending on my mood/day, I can even react to them with humor. Here's three helpful practices for dealing with unkind body thoughts:
1 | DISTANCE YOURSELF
It's more clear-cut to physically distance yourself from an object than it is to create mental and emotional space from it - but one helpful practice is to 1) note your feeling and then 2) add "I'm having the thought that..." in front of it. It can also help to name your emotions surrounding the experience. This is not the same thing as suppressing your feelings or numbing yourself - this is a step in processing them in a healthy way. We have to de-escalate a little in order to think things through with our rational mind.
So, for example: If you're feeling like you're not good at anything... the first step is to take note of that feeling and then reframe to "I'm having the thought that I'm not good at anything." Then add emotions: "Along with that, I feel frustrated, sad, and angry."
Remember: you are not your thoughts and feelings. They're something you have and they come and go - I like to imagine them as cars driving by on a road. Creating distance helps you dissociate your thoughts/feelings from seeming like part of your identity, which lets you challenge them.
2 | CHALLENGE THOUGHTS & ASK QUESTIONS
Next, throw down a challenge flag on those feelings. Are those feelings true? Also, where are they coming from? Get curious and ask questions - it's okay to be frustrated with thoughts, but the likelihood of those same thoughts/feelings popping up again is pretty high if we're not investigating them. This is the kind of work that's really great to do in counseling, but you can also do it with yourself or someone you trust.
Here's one question that's been especially helpful lately: Does placing value on this now allow me to live out my values in the future? I love this idea of small decisions snowballing into bigger effects - so this thought really helps me translate long term goals into short-term ones/actionable steps, and also helps me revisit and realign myself with what I value.
3 | POWERFUL AND POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
Reminding yourself of what you value and of all of the value that you represent is empowering. Here's three helpful positive affirmations that I've found meaning in lately - repeat to yourself as needed.
- I am strong and I can withstand discomfort.
- I am enough, just as I am.
- I am not more valuable because of what I eat, how I move, or what I wear - I am already valuable.
It's really good to have tools to use when unkind body thoughts are already happening, but even more powerful if you practice them as you go instead of saving them for when it all feels like too much - similar to why I have a self care box. If you have any tools for challenging thoughts, dealing with body image feelings, or affirmations - holla at me in the comments!