Boosting Body & Self-Esteem with a Little Homework

This past weekend I was chatting with a group of therapist buddies. We were discussing the number of “perfect body” and pro-dieting messages we are all exposed to on a given day. These “perfect body” messages are not only unrealistic and false but also self-esteem crushing. Let’s face it, we live in a world that is body-obsessed and there is no escaping the message that you aren’t “enough” without the perfect body. While this might seem a little depressing, the cool thing is that each of us can learn how to be a cultural critic. And that helps us to filter out the messages that are, in the end, damaging to our sense of self-worth, health, and well-being.

The genesis of this blog post is to share with you an exercise that one of the therapists in the group shared with us. It’s an exercise that can help you practice honing your critical eye, so that you can better interpret the messages being fed to you on a daily basis. Check it out.

1. Gather any magazines you have lying around your house. Or if you buy magazines on an irregular basis, purchase a couple of the magazines you might read.

2. Flip through each magazine and count the number of pictures, articles, or advertisements that are “body changing” (ie anything that tells you to lose, firm, tone, re-shape, shrink, blast, your body or body part).

3. Flip through each magazine and count the number of pictures, articles, or advertisements that are “body affirming” (ie affirms that you are fabulous just the way you are, that you have strengths and positive qualities that don’t need changing).

4. Compare those two numbers. Recognize the sheer number of messages that tell you that you aren’t “enough” just the way you are and that you need to change. How does that size up to the number of affirming statements?

5. Decide what messages you want to bring in to your home and ways in which you can change that ratio of body changing vs body affirming thoughts.

We all need a little more positive affirmations in our life. Due to our culture, we simply don’t get enough of them.  So do yourself a favor and start giving yourself a little more positive feedback each day. You just might find yourself feeling happier, more optimistic, and more inclined to take good care of yourself. In fact, I think you’ll be surprised!