And what to tell yourself instead

recent study confirmed what we already know to be true: Social media causes us to have negative thoughts about our bodies. Researchers from two major Australian universities found that “the majority of appearance comparisons made through social and traditional media . . . negatively impacted women’s appearance satisfaction, thoughts of dieting and exercising, and diet and exercise behavior.” Further, the researchers concluded that comparison via social media results in a marked negative mood shift. In other words, scrolling through our feeds full of people who are thinner, fitter, healthier—or whatever -er—than us leaves us feeling down in the dumps. No surprise there.

The good news is that we can be empowered to conquer our self-doubts. Here some ways to oust your worst image insecurities as soon as they surface.

01. “I’d be happier with myself if I could just slim down a bit.”

What if I were ten pounds lighter? What if I were more toned? Living life through what-ifs will cycle you through scenarios that will leave you unhappy with your present body. Even if you do intend to lose weight, the first step is to meet your body where it’s at.

Tell yourself instead: “I deserve to love myself for who I am today.”

02. “I hate my ____.”

Most of us have that one physical attribute that we (maybe guiltily) wish we didn’t have. There’s at least one reason that feature makes you unique, and that should give you enough cause to view yourself in a different light.

Tell yourself instead: “I’m grateful for my legs because they take me where I need to go.” Or: “My friends think my birthmark is part of what sets me apart.”

03. “Why even bother. . . . This is as good as it gets.”

Where you are now is not the end of the road. We have constant opportunities to make choices that propel us into a healthier lifestyle. Believe in your body and the future.

Tell yourself instead: “I am a work in progress.”

04. “I’m not as ______ as her.”

Comparison sets an imaginary bar as a measurement of beauty that shortchanges you of your own.

Tell yourself instead: “We’re both unique women with unique characteristics.”

05. “I’ll never have the body I want.”

While it’s OK to set goals, it’s not OK to seek or expect perfection. It’s neither healthy nor realistic. Alternatively, give yourself permission to appreciate your body for all its imperfections.

Tell yourself instead: “I’m not here to be perfect. There’s no such thing as perfection.”

06. “I wish I were ______.”

We can spend all our time wishing to be taller or tanner or toner. But in doing so, we cheat ourselves of contentment. Give your body more credit for its capabilities. Allow yourself to be grateful for what you have and what it enables you to do.

Tell yourself instead: "Happiness isn't having what you want. It's appreciating what you have."

07. “Nothing looks good on me.”

There will be days when it seems as if nothing you put on looks good. But that doesn’t mean that nothing looks good on you. Whether it’s what you’re trying on or how you’re wearing it, step back. True style isn't about numbers or trends.

Tell yourself instead: “I just have to find out what works best with my body type and skin tone.”

08. “I’ll never get my pre-baby bod back.”

The female body is forever changed by motherhood. If you’ve borne children, your body has sustained a baby for nine months and nurtured that child after you brought him or her into the world. It isn’t easy to accept these changes, but requires grace and time to find the new beauty of your postpartum bod.

Tell yourself instead: “Your body as you knew it is different now. You have brought a new life into the world, and you are keeping her alive and loving her well.”

09. “I hate the way I look.”

If you’re thinking this way, chances are you’re being much too hard on yourself. Others around you are certainly not hating the way you look. We all struggle with our image sometimes. Being aware of self-conscious times enables you to nip it in the bud.

Tell yourself instead: “I’m just feeling insecure right now.”

10. “There’s something wrong with me.”

You are beautiful, inside and out. You’re the world’s only opportunity to know a person just like you; the only hope to share what only you can.

Tell yourself instead: “I need to be kind to myself. Would I treat a friend this way?”

Recognizing the negative body image thoughts that affect you most often and practicing healthy responses to combat them are the first steps toward better self-esteem, confidence, and happiness. Know that what makes your body unique makes it beautiful—and no negative thought can strip you of that.

Photo Credit: Erin Woody Photography