Love Your Body. 4 Steps to a Positive Body Image

Beauty is more than body measurements, thigh gaps and cheekbones. It always has been. I, for one, never agreed to any rules that suggested it was otherwise. But I have at times found myself caught up in the propaganda.

How would your life be different if knew that you were beautiful? Not just knew it, but felt it so deeply and so fully that you didn’t even know it was a matter of choice. What if it was built into your bones and as much a part of you as your DNA?

Time to make it happen because we deserve nothing less …

  1. Fake it ‘til you make it.

    Act as though you love who you are – bumps, curves and all. How would you stand? How would you move? Assume the confidence. Even if you don’t believe it at first, act as though it’s true. Eventually your mind will catch up and believe in it for real. Honestly. Some of the most remarkably beautiful women have curves and cellulite (think Marilyn Monroe, Adele). What they have in common is confidence (which is astoundingly different to arrogant or conceited) and there is nothing more beautiful than that. Try it. There’s absolutely nothing to lose.

     

  2. Stop avoiding and start enjoying your body.

    Avoidance breeds avoidance. Your body is the only one you have and deserves your nurturance, pampering and protection. Get to know your body and embrace all of it. Spend some time naked. Lay around listening to music. Look at your naked body. Touch it, pamper it, be kind to it. Own your bumps, curves and dints with grace and affection – and don’t let anybody, especially you – sell you the idea that your less than for having them there. 

     

  1. Self compassion.

    Be kind to yourself in the face of disappointment. Treat yourself the way you would treat a best friend. You deserve the same kindness and respect. Research has shown that the more self-compassion you have in response to disappointments in your life, the more likely it is that you’ll have a positive body image. The compassion will spill into the way you treat your body. 

     

  1. Ditch the witch.

    Lose the critic in your head who smack talks your body. Accept your body – all of it. Look at what you can do because it works damn hard for you, not the least of which is in keeping you alive. You wouldn’t keep somebody around if they were rambling on about the way you look all the time. They’d be miserable company and you would know you deserve better. You can’t get away from yourself, so best make it a happy union.

Loving the skin you’re in isn’t easy if you’ve spent a lot of time being down on it. Embrace your body because of your curves, not despite them. You have always been enough. We don’t have to agree with the messages of a paper thin photo shopped world that would have us believe that bodies should be catwalk skinny. It’s a manipulation and it’s time to decide it’s a lie. We are fine – no, so much more than fine – phenomenal, capable, beautiful – exactly the way we are.

For ways to nurture a positive body image in kids and teens, see here.

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
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But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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