How To Overcome Negative Body Image

July 25, 2016

Address the disconnection of the 3 essential elements- body, mind and spirit


Poor self-image of the body may stem from a disconnection of the three essential elements of a human being: MIND, BODY and SPIRIT. 


I liken the human to a three-legged stool with each leg representing one essential element of survival for a human (MIND, BODY, SPIRIT). When one leg is neglected, the stool can lose stability.


BODY. Numerous studies have linked exposure to the thin ideal in mass media to body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal, and disordered eating among women. Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men.  The media is clearly defining who we are and controlling how we feel about our image.  Ironically, only 5% of the population is ever able to naturally achieve that ideal image (genetics!)

MIND.  The MIND is a set of cognitive functions developed through intellectual activities such as reading, education and learning.  An example of using the mind would be going back to school to learn and acquire a new skill set. Today, we tend to try to remove ourselves from the details of life. For example, we use electronic gadgets with reminder features. If you don’t sufficiently challenge your brain with new, surprising information, it eventually begins to deteriorate.

SPIRIT. This world exists but cannot be quantified.  Emotions, feelings, temperament, social skills and social connections all fall into this broad realm. If you are unaware of how you feel, you can easily misguide your unconscious emotions to unhealthy activities.  If you feel sad but eat a gallon of ice cream then this is an example of being out of touch with emotions and how to express them appropriately.


Three Simple Keys to a Successful Body Image are to create a balanced focus on all three:


1. Body – A balanced and healthy emphasis on eating and exercise is one path to caring for the physical body.


2. Mind – Challenge your mental capacity by trying a new activity every three months.  Reading a book, playing a crossword puzzle or taking a class are examples.


3. Spirit  – This is a spiritual practice of religion, meditation or self-reflective activities such as therapy/self-help groups.  It may be as simple as taking 10 minutes a day outdoors with contemplation of your inner world, passion, or life purpose.


Poor self-image is a sign that you are out of sync and need to seek help or re-evaluate your three-legged stool. I tell all my clients that they need to get a PhD in themselves. The greatest gifts you can give “you” in 2014 are the ability to self-reflect and know thyself.

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