A New Reflection in the Rearview Mirror
How you see your body and how you think others see your body greatly affects how you feel about yourself. And how you feel about your body cannot be separated from how you treat that very same body…the fuel you give it and the things you ask it to do. When you look in the mirror, does it reflect the real you or is the image distorted?
The Mirror’s Purpose
When you drive your car, you depend on your rearview mirror to see behind you, to drive safely and with purpose. You also depend on that mirror to be clean, not dusty or broken. Only a mirror free of dirt or broken glass can give the driver a true reflection of the situation. And regardless of the condition of the mirror, you cannot look in your mirror constantly and continue to move forward. You must look away from the mirror to concentrate on the road ahead. In fact, most of your driving requires a steady look ahead with just an occasional glimpse in the mirror’s reflection.
Likewise, your body’s image is the reflection you see in your body’s “rearview” mirror. The mirror often reflects what is in your past, behind you, and includes images that have been developed throughout your life. These images are influenced by things you have heard, read and seen. Over time, dirt may have accumulated and affects how clearly you can see what is really happening. Or your body image might even by broken from years of abuse or neglect. Over time, the pain, the distortions, the blurred images can become so familiar that your viewpoint does not recognize the difference between what you have come to believe and what is true. Spending time looking back in the mirror’s reflection, unaware that it is damaged, can distort the clarity of your decisions moving forward.
How to Move Forward with a Clear Reflection
The rewards of a clear reflection help guarantee more security and confidence as you keep your eyes on the road ahead. So where do you start to make a difference?
- First, work on believing that your body is capable of change. Begin by reminding yourself of the smallest, simplest things that you have accomplished in other areas of your life. This list may require a family member or friend’s help to see more clearly. The time spent thinking through the habits, relationships, beliefs and perspectives in your life that have changed is an investment in hope that change is indeed possible. Remind yourself that your body image is not limited to body weight changes only. Body image changes include how we relate to other people, how much we allow our thoughts about our body to affect our moods and how we interact socially.
- Second, make a list of neutral statements about your body that focus on what your body does for you daily. For example, “my feet (literally) carry me throughout my day”, “my heart keeps my body alive”, “my arms carry my groceries”, “my eyes see the colors of each season, “my ears hear music that I love”, or “my hands can hold my loved one’s hands”. If you are ready to take this to the next step, make a list of statements that emphasize the way you want to think about yourself. For example, “my body deserves to be nurtured by food” or “I have the right to enjoy a warm summer day at the beach regardless of my size.”
- Finally, try to repeat this list to yourself at least once in the morning and once in the evening. You do not have to immediately feel or believe any of these positive statements as you say them but do repeat them. The repetition itself has the power to begin rewiring your brain to create a new pathway of body thoughts that encourage versus shame. Just like hearing a song on the radio repetitively until you notice that one day you know every word without even trying…new words and positive statements that you repeat frequently can begin erasing the build-up from the past, repairing the broken cracks and replacing your reflection with a more nurturing one.
A renewed and repaired body image does not mean that you love everything about your body every moment of every day. It does mean that you have a healthy self-identity, can engage in life in the present moment, can appreciate the practical things that your body can do, and are slowly but intentionally letting go of the past images that distort or block your view of the beauty that lies ahead.
If you’re ready to improve your body image and overcome the eating disorder, call us today at 888.822.8938 for confidential help.