Raise your hand if you’ve ever found it hard to love what you see in the mirror. It’s something just about arguably, everyone can relate to.
“There’s this definition of what we’re supposed to look like to be successful or to be attractive,” says Jolene Hammermeister, a registered therapeutic counsellor based in Vancouver. “We’re always comparing ourselves to others.”
Though she doesn’t like to blame the media or society, Hammermeister says those are two of the most relatable origins of the “ideal” body we seem to strive for.
“Who creates these expectations for us?” she challenges. What is the benchmark, and why is it the benchmark? She suggests thinking critically about this yourself – if you attained that so-called ideal body, what would be better or different about your life?
Sometimes the reason we’re struggling with self-acceptance and body confidence is easily identifiable, Hammermeister explains, such as emotional trauma from a parent critical of our weight or being incessantly teased at school about the size of our nose, wearing glasses, or the colour of our skin. Sometimes, the cause of our insecurity is harder to spot. But whatever the root, it seems our bodies – our physical characteristics – are the areas in which we most often lack confidence.
“Our bodies are the one thing we can compare,” Hammermeister theorizes. “The body is so there.” Rather than being critical of our skills or character traits, we tend to focus on the most tangible, in-your-face things we can nitpick.
So how do we stop nitpicking?
5 Tips To Love Thyself
- Ask yourself, what percentage of your life, your happiness, is based on how your body looks?
- Think about the things you like about yourself, and the things people compliment you on.
- Be aware of your self-talk – are you noticing when you feel good? Are you thinking harshly of yourself a lot? Try to challenge the negative thoughts.
- Who are your role models? What kind of media are you consuming? Find people to look up to in areas other than body image – people you admire in your career field, faith, hobbies, personal beliefs or causes you care about.
- Are your self-care habits the best ones for you? If you end up feeling guilty or regretting the way you treat yourself, whether it’s to the proverbial piece of chocolate cake or an expensive spa treatment, that’s not a self-care habit that’s truly caring for you. Find a no-regrets way to make yourself feel good.
Think about what your value is – you’ll probably answer with a lot more than just the things you like about your body. Spend some time reflecting on yourself and try to identify where that self-confidence issue lies – are you feeling low self-esteem about your body, but feeling good about other areas of your life? Or are you feeling low self-esteem about many areas of your life? Chronic low self-esteem, Hammermeister explains, can lead to depression, so if you’re dealing with widespread low self-esteem, it might be helpful to speak with your family doctor or a counsellor about it.
Though it might seem daunting to change the way we perceive ourselves, it is possible – one step at a time.
“It’s not an overnight thing,” Hammermeister says, so she advises taking a beginner’s approach.