body7Poor self image, low self-esteem, negative self-talk… it’s all been eating away at me lately, leaving me in a dark place.

I am not comfortable with my body. I do not accept it or love it as it is. I never have. I have always wanted to change it – force it to conform to my standard of beauty (always just a little bit thinner).

In the past couple of weeks, I can’t seem to stop eating. My solution for this is to purge and tear myself down for being “fat,” “ugly,” and “lazy.” If I just worked harder at the gym, if I just had more self control around food, if I just didn’t give into my compulsive bingeing/purging, if…

I’m very good at tearing myself down and beating myself up. In fact, I’m feeling pretty low and stressed out right now.

I know where this is coming from. I have to wear a dress in a few days to a company banquet. Yes, it must be a dress. The dress code is “cocktail attire.”

Stressed doesn’t cover what I’m feeling about this… I’m terrified.

When I feel this way, I try to take action. So I dug my little black dresses out of the closet – the dresses I bought years ago and never wore. They still have the tags on them. Time to see if they finally fit…

body3Now, before I go any further, I need to share something. I have body dysmorphia. It goes along hand-in-hand with my eating disorder. Basically, I obsess about my appearance for hours at a time. I worry about how other people perceive me. I avoid social situations because I’m afraid people will judge how I look, and I try to camouflage my self-perceived imperfections by wearing over-sized clothing.

In short, I hate how I look. Mirrors are the bane of my existence. Every time I glimpse my reflection the chorus in my head starts screaming, “Too fat! Eat less! Exercise more!”

And that’s exactly what I heard when I tried on these dresses. I couldn’t tell if I was wearing the dresses or the dresses were wearing me – I could barely breathe. It’s not that they were too tight (though they were tight). It was the anxiety I felt about being in a dress.

There is nowhere to hide in these dresses. They >fit<.

I need to turn my attitude around about my body. And I need a quick fix. The fastest way I know to fight negative thoughts is with positive thoughts, so here are some of the mantras I’m going to keep in mind while I gear up for this company event.

You are bold! You are brilliant! You are beautiful!

body4Say it enough times, and you’ll start to actually believe it. Start to believe it, and it will become the truth. Wearing one of these dresses is a bold statement for me. It will show a fearless acceptance of my body as it is. And you know what, the dresses are beautiful, and so am I!

You are loved.

In my darkest times, this mantra reaches out to me like a helping hand. And I will need this reminder near me often in the coming days. I am loved.

When I’m at my lowest, I remember that others love me even though I cannot love myself.

My body deserves love and respect.

I shame my body. I criticize it and punish it. How much different my life would be if I treated it with loving kindness and respect!

body6My body faithfully carries me through every day, no matter how harshly I treat it. That’s pretty amazing. I need to learn to respect my body. To me this means respecting its needs as well as its existence.

My body needs food to function, so I shouldn’t judge it for being hungry. I should respect its needs and care for it as I would care for a child.

I love my body as it is today.

I believe that everyone is worthy of love exactly as they are. Why wouldn’t I extend that same courtesy to myself and my body?

I would never speak to anyone else the way I speak to myself. To others, I am encouraging, gentle, kind, compassionate. I need to start looking at myself and my body in the same way.

My body is not something to be changed and starved and molded. It is something to be accepted just as it is – beautiful in its own way, exactly as it is.

I am grateful.

I always notice a big change in my attitude when I start practicing gratitude. It’s not just about saying “Thank you.” It’s about being reflective and thoughtful.

body5Of course, I’m talking specifically about my body here. Instead of hating it, I need to be grateful for it. Instead of wishing it was 20 (or 40) pounds lighter, I need to be thankful it’s healthy and strong.

Practicing gratitude will help me start having a positive outlook on my body. The negative will not disappear overnight, but it will gradually lessen over time.

***

Changing my attitude about my body will take time. But if I keep these mantras at the forefront of my mind – and maybe posted on the mirror – I know I will start to see a difference in the way I think and feel about myself.

Someday, I want to be able to walk comfortably and confident in my own skin instead of in shame and fear.

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