Shifting from body-hatred to body-neutrality

For many of my clients, the jump from body-hatred to body-love feels nearly impossible. So, I like to begin their session by helping them to shift any negative thoughts about their body to more neutral thoughts.  I believe that body-neutrality and body-acceptance are key components in terms of healing someone’s relationship with their body.

So how can you begin to put this into practice?  First, I’ll have my clients list the negative or unhelpful thoughts that they often have about their body.  Underneath each thought, I ask them to come up with a more neutral one, which is related to gratitude for their body.

Making the Shift

Unhelpful thought: “My legs are huge and disgusting.”

Neutral thought: “I’m thankful for my legs because they take me places that I want to go.”

I often remind my clients that our bodies are meant to change throughout our lives.  Therefore, putting all of their self-worth into their appearance is a recipe for discontent.  Shifting focus to the amazing things that their body enables them to do, helps people to appreciate the function of their body.  Our bodies are simply the tools that enable us to live our amazing lives.

Lastly, I encourage my clients to practice self-compassion throughout this process.  Working on your body image takes time, and it’s important to be kind to yourself.  No matter what your body looks like, you are worthy of love and belonging.  You are enough, just as you are.

by Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LGSW

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