Not Feeling Good Enough About My Body
By Marie Miguel
Updated January 25, 2019
Reviewer Lori Jones, LMHC
Not feeling good about your body is a common problem that many people struggle with. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect body. We all know that physical frames come in many different heights and shapes. And on top of that, what looks like an ideal body to one person may vary drastically from another person's ideal. This varies across cultures as well.
The truth is that most of us, regardless of body type, like some things about our bodies and dislike others. But what about when the thought of 'not feeling good enough about my body' starts to interfere with everyday life? When it stops you from doing things and going places, restricts your happiness and delays your dreams. At this point, action is necessary.
Not Feeling Good Enough-Looking Within
If you feel strong and healthy, then your body is good enough. Feeling attractive, now that's a different story. The trick is understanding what attractive really means. Attractive doesn't mean matching a societal ideal. What is truly attractive is being authentic to your true self. It means wearing your hair, makeup, and clothes in ways that make you happy and confident. It means being who you truly are without needing the approval of others. Getting there will bring you true happiness regardless of outward appearance.
Although desirability is somewhat based on physical attributes, this part of who you are is nothing when separated from personality and confidence. It is when negativity is present, and self-assurance is lacking that seeds of insecurity take root. To combat those, 'I'm not good enough' feelings you first need to look at your past and figure out when these feelings began.
Have you hated the way you look from an early age? Were you overweight or underweight as a child? Were you bullied because of your crooked teeth, long legs, or big ears? Or maybe you gained weight while going through a tough divorce or after being diagnosed with depression? The possibilities for why you feel negative about your body are endless, but pinpointing the underlying reasons is crucial. A trained therapist is a great asset when trying to get the core of your body image issues. He or she can help you look within and not only determine the core problems but also ways to resolve them.
Accentuate the Positive
Rather than trying to twist your body into something it's not, take a look at what it actually is. Instead of focusing on the negative thoughts like "I hate my stomach," think about the things you do like about your body and make a list. It might look something this:
- I love my green eyes because they're unique.
- My deep dimples make my smile noticeable.
- I have my grandmother's nose, and I'm happy about that.
- My pretty feet are one of my favorite features.
By accentuating the positive, you take back the power from the negative thoughts and can develop a healthier relationship with your body.
Realize it's Not a Competition or a Race
Another thing that keeps us bound to negative thoughts about our own bodies is the tendency to compare ourselves to others. The media, photoshopped images in magazines, plastic surgery and the rest, can cause some serious insecurities. But once we realize and accept that we are fine as we are and don't need to change or compare ourselves to anyone else, the real work can begin.
Ways to do this include:
- Refusing to look at other women/men as a comparison.
- Remembering that good looking doesn't always mean healthy.
- Don't believe the hype-your body is ideal and you don't have to change unless it's something you genuinely want to do.
- Complement other women for their accomplishments, but don't long to be like them.
Self-Care is Key
You can start feeling better about your body by treating it well. Here's one way to do so. Instead of making your goals a particular weight or change in appearance, make your goals about taking care of yourself. This may sound like a foreign concept to you since American culture surrounding weight is all about the number on the scale or the size listed on the tag. But, surprisingly, many people find that losing weight and reaching that "optimal number" didn't actually make them any happier or solve their problems.
So instead, focus on healthy changes that can be made to benefit your overall wellness. For instance, your goal could be to eat three vegetables every day and reducing the number of carbs you eat instead of losing thirty pounds. Another goal might be to do bodyweight exercises four days a week, not to lose four inches around your waist.
Here are a few more things you can do to treat your body right.
- If you are eating unhealthy foods, now is the time to change these eating habits once and for all. Eating better will make you feel better and increase your confidence in your body. One way to do this is by balancing the macronutrients you eat. That means getting enough carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Your body needs all of these to function.
- Get the right amount of calories. Often times we think that eating fewer calories is the best way to lose weight. But the right amount does not necessarily mean restricting calories. It's just as important to get enough calories as it is not to get too many. You can find an estimate of how many calories you need to be at a healthy weight.
- Another way to improve your body image is to take part in some kind of weight-bearing cardiovascular exercise every day, or most days. Walking is the simplest exercise, and it can make a big difference in your health when done regularly. Not to mention it just makes you feel good. If you can't walk, dancing (even while seated in a chair) or calisthenics are other options to improve your body's strength, appearance, and also how you feel about it.
- Get enough sleep. This is one of the most important things you can do for your health, but it's often the most overlooked. If you're up late, you're more likely to snack on junk food and less likely to have the energy to work out the next day.
Also, it is important to remember that focusing on the end goal (a better body) and not the steps that will get you there is a mistake. Instead, you should put your intention on the healthy acts, not the outcomes. Knowing that you are giving your body the nutrients and exercise it needs will help you to realize you are working toward your body's best state of being. And that should make you feel terrific about yourself and the amazing things your body can do when you take care of it.
Which brings us back to what is really beautiful, confidence and joy. Watch out for body image issues that deteriorate your quality of life. If your lack of confidence is interfering with your ability to go to work, bond with people close to you, or participate in activities with family or friends, you may benefit from talking to a professional therapist. Remember that you and only you have the power to change your life.