The first rule of Body Club, like the first rule of Fight Club, is that we don’t talk about it.
It’s a good guideline. Don’t talk about your body and don’t talk about other bodies. Just don’t. Full stop. I promise you will be happier and so will those around you. (And I wish someone had told me this years ago.)
Ate too much? Feeling too full or bloated? Keep it to yourself. Gained a few pounds? Or lost some? Shut up about it. If you notice this about someone else don’t ask. Clothes feeling tight? There’s no need to share. Better yet, when you notice these thoughts change your focus to something more interesting.
We know from research on body image that the more you focus on your insecurities the more they expand in your perception. It’s not that those of us with body dysmorphia see something that’s not there. It’s that we narrow our focus exclusively onto the thing we perceive negatively. And since that is all we see and feel, our perception becomes out of balance.
When you shift your attention away from the place of insecurity you have a better chance for balanced assessment. Your belly may feel or actually be bigger at certain times, but in reality it’s imperceptible to others. You may hate on certain body parts but others have a wider view.
We also know that the less you stay focused on insecurities about your body the more you will be open to positive new experiences. Remember Dr. Lindsay Kite’s admonition that our bodies are instruments, not ornaments. The more you focus on what your body can do versus how your body looks, the happier you will be. And the more likely you will be to actively engage in the life you want.
Of course there are exceptions to the body talk rule, like your doctor. And it’s important to have at least one trusted person you can share your insecurities with which is a topic for a future column.
If body acceptance is a struggle for you, know that you aren’t alone. And know that it isn’t actually about your body, but about your insecurities. Our thin obsessed culture has led women of all sizes, shapes, ages to feel insecure about how their bodies look and function.
The truth is that all bodies are good bodies. Our bodies are allowing our presence on earth and are always working to keep us alive. When we’re disconnected from that it’s not the time to hate on ourselves, or to punish ourselves with exercise or by withdrawing food. Rather, it’s time for self-compassion, gentleness, and shifting the focus.