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Summer Self Image

Summer is here, and that usually means lots of travel, vacations and social
gatherings. When the heat is upon us, it also means plenty of opportunities to go
swimming, and for many, this thought can stir fear and dread. You may be someone
who experiences a wave (or waves) of panic thinking about putting on a bathing
suit. Perhaps your inner critic speaks up louder than usual, picking apart everything
that is “wrong” with your body or comparing your physical appearance to others
and concluding you are not “enough” (pretty enough, thin enough, fit enough, etc.).
Maybe fear kicks in that others will be judging you, the same way you judge yourself,
and that you will be ostracized or rejected. All sorts of thoughts and fears can swirl
through one’s head simply as a result of thinking about wearing a bathing suit.

Of course, society doesn’t help by inundating us with images of the “perfect” beach
body and sharing diets, workouts, and information to help us get “beach body
ready,” as if this is the most important thing we should be focusing on to become
worthwhile individuals who have value. This is all bogus. The only thing preventing
us from being “beach body ready” is your mind, because truly there is nothing
wrong with your body, only with your self-image and self-talk.

If you’re someone who can relate to the above, here are some things you can do to
improve your self-image this summer:

| 1. RECOGNIZE
Recognize your negative self-talk patterns. Start to really observe the words
that you are speaking out loud and the thoughts you’re thinking in your head.
Are they negative? Are you comparing yourself to others in an unfavorable
light? Ultimately, if you wouldn’t say the words to a loved one, then you
shouldn’t be saying it to yourself. When you notice you’re negative self-talk
kicking in, pause and refocus your attention onto something more satisfying-
either something around you in the present moment or a new thought that is
more satisfying. It doesn’t have to be about your body necessarily, it just has to
be something that redirects your energy and focus in a positive direction.

| 2. REFLECT
Remind yourself of what truly matters in life and are important to you, such
as your relationships, spending quality time with loved ones, and making a
positive contribution to your community. Ideally, the amount of fat on your
body should not affect your ability to laugh and share in memories and
connections with others. It’s the moments shared with others that often
stand out in one’s memories when reflecting fondly back on happy times.
Don’t let your weight detract from these experiences. Be fully present with
those around you, and make social gatherings about fostering a greater
connection with others rather than about your body.

| 3. GRATITUDE
Give gratitude daily for your body and all of the incredible tasks it performs
for you on a daily basis. Fostering an attitude of gratitude can help improve
one’s relationship with their body. Thank it for carrying you through life.

Thank all the muscles, glands, systems and organs that are involved in
keeping you alive without you having to do anything. Try meditating and
sending love and gratitude to every part of your body. See how it helps shift
your focus from self-loathing to self-appreciation!

| 4. AFFIRMATIONS
Try repeating a body-positive affirmation daily, especially when looking at
yourself in a mirror. Some examples of mantras you can say are: My body
deserves love and respect. I thank my body for all it does for me today. My
weight does not define my worth. I am healthy, whole and complete. Choose a
mantra that feels good to you to say. You can also try writing it down sticky
notes and placing them on mirrors throughout your home as a reminder to
improve your self-talk.

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