No one has a perfect body. Those photos you see of celebs in magazines are retouched. Those actors in movies and TV are layered in makeup and have body doubles half the time. Those models you see on the runways are usually struggling with eating disorders that can have them looking like skeletons. The obsession with being thin, young and perfect-looking is the bane of our culture. If you have ever felt bad about your body, like you have too much cellulite, too many wrinkles and too many pounds, pimples, dandruff, a small chest, and ugly toes you are not alone. Everyone in this culture suffers from what I call the body blues at some point in their adolescent and adult lives. And the body blues can have a profound impact on your dating and love relationships. Part One of this two-part article is for singles only. In Part Two, I’ll share relationship tips for those of you in couples.
But before we get to the five tips that will help you banish the body blues, I want you to know that tips like those can be found weekly in my FREE Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter! Click Here to get started now.
Here then are five top tips for dealing more effectively with the psychological and relationship issues caused by the body blues.
1. Shift to More Positive Thinking: It’s not your physical problems—it’s your thinking about how bad it is that causes problems. You see your flab and start thinking how unattractive and what a turn-off it is. Negative self-talk leads to depression and upset which in turn can color how you come across to others. But here’s the best news: research shows that you can break this pattern by changing these thoughts. Just like anything else, when it comes to changing mental habits, practice makes it all work out. For 10 to 15 minutes several times a week, write down a neutral or positive statement about your body complaint (e.g., “Being overweight is a minor problem.” Or “It’s just an extra 15 pounds.”) Read the statement aloud. When a doubt or negative idea comes up, like, “It’s awful.” simply write it down. Continue this process, alternating neutral and negative thoughts about your body complaint until you feel a positive shift in your mood. This will help neutralize any possible complaints that you have about your condition and get your brain into the habit of countering negative thoughts with a positive response.
2. Mirror Exercise: Look in the mirror and pick 3 to 5 things that you like about your physical appearance. Wear form-fitting but not revealing clothing so that you can do this exercise even if you are having a flare-up of the body blues. When practiced regularly, this exercise will shift focus away from your physical insecurities and on to the physical features that you do like. Studies have shown that the mirror exercise is especially helpful to do before you go to a social gathering because it will help boost your confidence and help you stop the comparison game, judging yourself against how other people you meet look or dress. It is simple, yet very powerful.
3. Look around you: Take a good look at your group of friends or people in a crowd the next time you go out. Notice that couples come in all shapes and sizes and that being in a relationship isn’t just for the physically perfect. People in relationships are overweight, short, skinny, tall, have acne, facial scars and other skin conditions. Think about the fact that most people have physical flaws and you will feel more optimistic about your own chances for a loving relationship.
4. Choose wisely about sharing information about your body complaint: Be nonchalant. Avoid injecting negative judgments, like “It’s awful,” into the description or putting yourself down. If it doesn’t seem like a huge deal to you, other people will view it the same way.
5. Be picky when picking a romantic partner: don’t settle for just anyone. A candidate should satisfy the three criteria below if he or she is to have a meaningful healthy place in your dating and love life.
- Has strong feelings about you – he or she should like you through and through for who you are. A good partner sees the wonderful qualities in you and is not focused on things like pimples, wrinkles or extra pounds.
- Wants to grow – there is no perfect partner. Choose someone who is willing to work on him/herself because that person will help you in many ways, including helping you to become less reactive to the body blues.
- Meets the basics – a prospective partner for lasting love is a good person with integrity, who shares your values and goals and has romantic chemistry with you.
By using these simple practices, you can end many of the psychological and relationship problems that are often caused by the body blues. You can learn to accept your body, as imperfect as it is, as perfect for you. Read Part Two of this article now and find out how your relationship can play a big part in helping you overcome your body issues.
Wishing you love,
Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show & author of the highly acclaimed new relationship advice book, “Sealing the Deal: The Love Mentor’s Guide to Lasting Love” as well as the best-selling author of “Love in 90 Days.” Dr. Diana’s revolutionary work is the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her FREE Relationship and Dating Advice Newsletter