Ever noticed how negative body talk can really spiral down? You look in the mirror and say “I wish my stomach was flatter.” And then, whoosh, the thoughts go wild. “I wish my stomach was flat like that model in the magazine.” “My belly will never look like that.” “I am so ugly.” “No one will ever love me.” Yikes! Did you know that you can actually change how you feel about your body by catching yourself in those moments of internal insult? You can STOP or at least SLOW DOWN the downward spiral.
Step 1 – Noticing the Spiral – The next few times you step in front of the mirror or put on your clothes, listen to that automatic conversation going on in your head. What are you saying about your body? You may need to turn off outside noise, like the TV or radio, to really pay attention. To start this activity, have some paper and a pencil nearby. It may help to write down some of the automatic negative statements you are saying to yourself about your body. This first step is to just recognize the automatic negative body talk in your head.
Step 2 – Slowing Down the Downward Spiral – Once you catch yourself saying insulting and hurtful comments about your body, the next step is to practice stopping the spiral of negative thoughts. Here are some ways to slow or stop the spiral:
• Imagine a friend: Take the insulting statements that you said or wrote down. Imagine that you are saying those things to someone you really care about, maybe your best friend or a loving relative. Imagine how that person would feel hearing these statements said to him or her. This step can help you recognize how harsh and hurtful you are being to yourself and can help you stop from continuing your downward spiral.
• Distraction works: Another tool you can try when you notice negative body talk is to basically distract yourself. Instead of standing in front of the mirror and continuing the insults, try distraction. Leave the room you are in. Make a phone call to someone who tends to brighten your day. Go for a walk outside. Take 5 slow deep breaths. Play your favorite song that always makes you want to dance. Pick up a book and start reading. Or any other healthy activity that can take your mind away from the spiraling negative body talk.