How to Get Rid of a Negative Self Image and Make Peace with our Bodies
Many of us struggle with body image issues. It doesn't help that our society puts a lot of emphasis on how we should look, how we should feel, and what we should eat. As a result, we concentrate more on what others think than on what really matters to us.
In the post How to Crush Comparison in Your Life, I shared how I’ve struggled with body comparison. I think my thighs are a little too big and I wish my boobs were a bit bigger. I eventually realized no matter what I eat and how much I run I am never going to look like the women in magazines. Even at my lowest weight, I wish my body would look different.
My negative body image didn’t go away with diet, exercise, or obtaining the “right” number on the scale. Plus, what I thought about myself was inconsistent. When I regularly worked out and felt connected to my body through the things I love to do, I felt good. But when I missed a week, or two, or three, I’d feel bad and look at my body with disgust.
I discovered that…
Our belief about our bodies has so little to do with our actual bodies, and so much more to do with our perception of ourselves.
In order to change what we believe about ourselves, we have to rethink the way you think! The Bible says to ”take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) This simply means that when you have a negative thought you choose to stop it in its tracks and replace it with truth. In this case, the truth of what God says about your body. Not just once or twice but every time those thoughts try to creep into your mind.
God calls us to His truth and wants us to see ourselves as He sees us. Accepting a distorted body image is the same as believing a lie about ourselves.
If I only looked like ___________________, I would be _________________.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
This will help!
Download these Biblical affirmations about your body and who God created you to be.
When we become free from a negative self-image we can:
- Pass this freedom along to our daughters. The things you say and do are seen by your children. Even when we think they aren’t paying attention they are. I can tell my daughters to embrace who God created them to be, body and all, but if I make a fuss every time I put a bathing suit on they’ll notice.
- Have confidence and enjoy ourselves more.
- Serve others. When you no longer focus on yourself and the way you look you can serve others well.
In addition to refusing the idea that you have to look a certain way to have worth or value, consider trying a few of these things as you make peace with your body:
Have grace for yourself and the season you are in. If you just had a baby, are recovering from an injury, or are working extra hours in a new job give yourself grace. Seasons may change but what God thinks about you and His love for you will not.
Find a workout that makes you feel good — not one that promises “results.” Find an exercise that gets you moving. Hiking, dance, yoga, running, swimming? Choose physical activities that feed your soul rather than ones that drain your joy.
Stop comparing. Only a tiny, tiny percent of the population looks the models we see in movies, TVs, and magazine ads. So why compare? Most of the images you’ve seen have been Photoshopped anyway.
Don’t go on a diet, but rather make changes to your diet. Examine how and why you eat. Is it out or boredom, to procrastinate, or relax? Also look for an imbalance in your diet such as meat, cheese, and bread as a go-to meal. I’ve discovered I feel healthier, stronger, and have more energy when my diet has an emphasis on plant-based food.
Take inventory of who you spend time with and what is coming out of your mouth. When you spend time with people who complain about their bodies you’ll find yourself doing the same. In Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” The words you hear and speak matter. To successfully reject the lies you’ve believed about your body, you’ll need to change the conversations you are having.
Clean out your closet and buy only things that already fit. Clothing can make you feel good but not if it’s too big or too small. Don’t keep clothing that you hope will you’ll eventually fit you. In rare occasions, it may motivate you to get healthy but mostly it just serves as an ideal that you to strive for rather than resting in your true value and worth in Christ.
Give your body the rest it needs. When your body gets the rest it needs it will thrive at the capacity it was created for. Get between 7-9 hours of sleep and regularly observe the Sabbath.
Much like crushing comparison, we can make peace with our bodies when we refuse the lies that culture feeds us. The steps above will help you with that. As you do them over and over again they will become habits that will add joy to your life and give you the energy you need to live the live God created you to live.
For more on the topic listen to:
Episode 47 Making Peace with Our Bodies
Join Elise Daly Parker, Kimberly Coyle and me as we talk about the things that bring us to life and connect us with our bodies. We’re also sharing some things that we do to promote make peace with our bodies.