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When Obsessing with a Perfect Body Image Becomes a Disease

When Obsessing with a Perfect Body Image Becomes a Disease

It’s no secret that men and women struggle with body image. We are constantly bombarded with ideas of the “perfect body” and despite knowing it’s photo-shopped beyond belief, it can be difficult to ignore the feeling that we need to change somehow.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders claims that eight million people in the U.S. have some type of eating disorder. That’s about 3% of the total population.[1]

So what can we do? How to practice self-love without flaunting our “hot” bodies in the face of someone who hates their body? How do we overcome shame and practice acceptance? Read on to find out.

Self-worth is NOT about size!

Hey. You. You’re worth it. You deserve happiness. You’re an incredible person and you should really recognize that in yourself. If you feel like you’ll never be able to think positively about yourself, take a breath. We’ll get there together. Not only are you beautiful/handsome exactly as you are, but you’re smart and witty and just plain awesome.

First of all, let’s define some things:

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Body Image: Body image is just that; an image. It’s based on your thoughts and your feelings about your body. The way you think other people look at you can negatively impact your own self-views, and cause a slew of negative thoughts bout your appearance. It’s the way you feel about yourself, inside and out. And it’s a big deal [2].

Self-esteem: Do you like yourself? Do you recognize how awesome and unique you are? If so, you have great self-esteem. If not, we’ll get there. If you have low self-esteem, it can be really hard for you to feel worthy and confident. When you have good self-esteem, you feel empowered, courageous and confident. You find yourself really caring about your mental and emotional health. And it’s not just about liking your body. It’s liking everything that makes you, you!

    It’s okay that you aren’t happy with yourself every single second.

    Take this test adapted from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale to gauge where your self-esteem currently is. Add up the number of points you’ve chosen. The higher the number, the higher your self-esteem.

    The way you answer the questions can fluctuate, as we can’t all be 100% happy with ourselves all the time.[3]

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      Thankfully, there are steps you can take to boost your self-esteem.

      1. Realize how cool you are. Make a list of all the things that make you, you! This isn’t being cocky, it’s being confident. You have so many unique qualities. Appreciate that about yourself.
      2. Put your heart into your work. Whether at school or a career, really give 110% every day. Learning gives you so much power and the confidence to change the world.
      3. Stay active. Take a dance class or join a team. Go for walks and don’t text the whole time. Focusing on your own health is one of the best ways to be selfish and start to love yourself.
      4. Stop being so cruel to yourself. Do you tell yourself things like, “I’m so fat,” “I’m so ugly,” “I hate how I look”? Ouch. Write down the things you’re saying to yourself. Then think about the list. How does it contribute to how stressed out you are? If it does, try to get to the root of it. Maybe you tell yourself you’re fat, and maybe you have since a relative told you your stomach was getting big. It’s okay to acknowledge if you’re medically overweight and want to get healthier, but don’t confuse poor health for “disgusting,” “gross,” “unworthy”.[4] And don’t let someone’s words, no matter how recently they were spoken, impact your current views.
      5. Make a new list. Write down mantras that you will try to practice. Try things like “I won’t speak harshly to myself. I will not judge other peoples’ bodies in an attempt to feel better about mine. I will not allow others to be cruel to me about my looks.”
      6. Challenge yourself. Try to avoid insulting yourself for a whole week. How did it feel? Do you feel different physically?

      Ditch that body/image shame.

      Speak Kindly, even if the voice is in your head.

      The things you say inside your head don’t always stay there. In fact, the mean things you tell yourself can impact your emotions and even your opinion of other people. Even if you’re reading this and thinking that you are pretty kind to yourself, realize there is always room for improvement.

      So if your list of mean things you say to yourself is really short, focus on making it a goal to write an even shorter list. Monitor your self-talk weekly and consistently try to replace any hurtful words with kind ones.[5]

        Stop focusing on other peoples’ opinions.

        This is a tricky one, especially in a time of judging ourselves based on the number of virtual “likes” we receive. Overthinking and hyper-focusing on someone else’s words or actions toward us is dangerous and downright destructive.

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        Time to wake up, people. The voice in your head is not who you are. It’s just an excitable commentator. You are the game. – Mark Rice-Oxley

        Basically, we have to create a whole new relationship with our thoughts. We need to be aware of when that bad day we’re having was completely created by our own self-loathing. Be present in the real world, and spend less time on social media. Get in the habit of telling yourself why you’re awesome as soon as you wake up. Don’t obsess when things go wrong, celebrate when things go right.[6]

        Regain control.

        Fun fact: You are in charge of yourself. You determine your worth. Not the model on the cover of a magazine, not the popular girl you graduated with that has 3K Instagram followers. You.

        It’s just a fact: someone will always be wealthier than you, smarter than you, prettier than you, etc. But that doesn’t mean you’re poor, dumb and ugly! Why spend your life comparing yourself to other people when your body is the only one you get to live in. Love yourself. The rest will follow.[7]

        Drop the negativity, even if it means dropping “friends”.

        It’s an ugly fact, but it’s a fact all the same. Toxic people have toxic attitudes, and that toxicity is contagious. Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you, encourage you and love you. A wise woman once said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” and she is so very right.

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          Quit comparing.

          I know, I know, I’ve already said this. But it’s that important! Psychologist Leon Festinger said that our desire to compare ourselves to others is a drive as powerful as thirst! Think about that for a second. The only person we should compare ourselves to is our past selves. Take a look at where you are versus where you’ve been. Appreciate those mile-markers, not someone else’s.[8]

          Remember: There is no such thing as perfection.

          I think we’ve all come across at least one person in our lives that seemed to have it all. The perfect relationship, the perfect job, the perfect bank account, etc. But did they really? Eh, probably not.

          When you look at someone’s outward appearance and assume you know how easy they have it, remind yourself that you don’t know anything about their journey. Instead of being jealous of that person or wishing you were them, appreciate how inspired you are by him/her and focus on making the necessary changes in your life to be proud of yourself.[9]

          So make it a point to start new today. Take baby steps toward liking yourself. Eventually, you’ll be taking strides toward loving yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, physically, mentally or emotionally. Appreciate people for what makes them unique, and rejoice in what makes you, you.

          Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

          Reference

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          Last Updated on August 16, 2018

          Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

          Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

          He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

          If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

          What is a narcissistic personality?

          Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

          In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

          Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

          the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

          The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

          Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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          Traits of a narcissist:

          • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
          • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
          • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
          • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
          • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

          How are narcissists different from others?

          Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

          Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

          We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

          Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

          Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

          Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

          Why do people become narcissists?

          1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

          The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

          Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

          Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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          Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

          2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

          Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

          Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

          Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

          How to deal with a narcissist?

          1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

          There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

          2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

          Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

          Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

          3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

          Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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          When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

          This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

          4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

          Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

          Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

          There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

          If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

          5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

          You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

          There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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          Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

          6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

          Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

          7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

          If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

          Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

          For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

          8. Learn when to walk away.

          When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

          If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

          Reference

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