Healthy body image: One secret to a closer and happier relationship
“I’m so fat!”
“My butt looks huge in these jeans!”
“I can’t leave the house looking like THIS!”
If you’ve uttered words like these, you might be putting your relationship at risk. Even if you’ve never put yourself down or been hateful about your body out loud, you still might be negatively affecting your love relationship or marriage.
“Hatred” might seem like a strong word and you may believe that you’re not that tough on yourself, but if you consistently criticize and judge your body to be “ugly,” “fat,” “too skinny” or otherwise unacceptable, then hatred is what you’re giving yourself.
Not only is this habit bad for you, it’s bad for your relationship too.
In fact, the way you habitually slam your body size or appearance could lead to breakup or divorce. You see, when you put yourself down, you put stress on yourself and on the connection your share with your partner.
Here’s what can happen...
- You feel insecure about your body and so you hold back with your partner which causes distance between the two of you.
- You are more prone to jealousy as you worry that someone “thinner,” “fitter” or “more attractive” than you will steal your partner away.
- You are hesitant and more reserved when sexually intimate with your partner because you’re embarrassed or even ashamed of your body.
- Your energy and attention are so focused on how much you hate your body, you come off as self-centered and you can’t tune in to your partner’s needs.
- Your partner is put in the impossible position of trying to convince you that you ARE pretty/handsome/attractive. You either can’t hear or you dismiss his or her compliments.
- You are constantly fearful that your partner will leave because of the way you look and so you hover and demand constant attention and/or reassurance.
It’s exhausting to be in a relationship with someone who is hateful toward him or herself. The stress and strain can build and, at a certain point, it’s too much. The damage to your connection becomes irreparable and the other person wonders why he or she stays with someone who has zero self-respect.
It’s also exhausting to BE the one who can’t stand to look in the mirror and who doesn’t appreciate his or her body and self.
You deserve better. Your partner deserves better too.
If you have a habit of hating on your body, know that YOU are the one who has the power to stop. YOU can begin to turn not only your body image around, but also your overall confidence and your relationship too.
Change your self-talk.
You can try a makeover, new diet or exercise regime to improve your body image. There are positives to all of these activities. It can help you feel better to do something that supports your health and well-being.
But, if you don’t get to the source of your body hatred, these actions will be empty and probably short-lived too. Make sure you’re also getting to the source: The beliefs you have about yourself and about your body.
The way that you “talk” to yourself is a reflection of what you believe. Pay closer attention to what you think about your body as well as what you say out loud. Keep in mind that sarcasm and self-deprecating jokes can have just as negative an impact as something overtly critical.
Glamour magazine surveyed 300 women of varying body sizes and found that, on average, the women admitted to 13 negative body thoughts each and every day. Some of the women in the study reported up to 100 negative thoughts about their bodies every day.
Tally up negative body thoughts or just notice what runs through your mind as you move through your day and especially when you look at yourself in the mirror.
To change your self-talk, interrupt negative thoughts when they crop up. Be gentle yet firm with yourself. You can simply say “stop” and then take a deep breath. Some people find it helpful to substitute the hateful thought with one that is more soothing.
You don’t have to try to leap from “I look hideous!” to “I look gorgeous” if you don’t genuinely feel that way. Instead, find positive and soothing word like, “love,” “kindness,” “gentle,” “I’m okay” or whatever moves your thoughts in a different direction.
Make this your habit. It’s likely that you’ll periodically slide back into body hating-- especially when you’re stressed or feeling uncertain-- so keep returning to what works for you.
Treat your body (and self) with love.
The more you treat your body and self with love instead of hate, the better you’re going to feel. A wonderful side effect of this is that your confidence builds and you begin to walk a little taller.
When you feel better about yourself, you usually make healthier choices too. Maybe you choose to eat just one cookie instead of six. Maybe you take a brisk walk in the park instead of staying home. Maybe you are more honest and open with your partner because you’re not as worried that he or she will leave you.
When you treat your body and self with love and respect, you set a powerful example to your partner and everyone else in your life. They’ll know that you are to be listened to, treated with kindness AND that you are beautiful and worthy of adoration.
Your healthy confidence and positive body image will open you up to a brand new level of connection with the one you love. So, what are you waiting for?
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