Body Image, Self-Acceptance, and Finding Your Awesomeness
When people have high self-esteem, they usually feel better. However, increasing self-esteem is a temporary solution because it perpetuates the underlying problem of self-rating. How does one accept himself/herself when they have lost their awesomeness? What is self-acceptance?
The mental health profession spends much of their time focusing on low self-esteem as it relates to self-image problems and eating disorders. Yet oftentimes, there is a dysfunctional philosophy in place: “I like myself because I do well and I am liked by others.” The media portrays this in interesting ways. For example, the song “I can’t live, if living is without you” by Air Supply sends the message that self-worth is contingent on love from others. As counselors, how do we break through these erroneous beliefs?
The 20-somethings that walk into my office have a very similar view on body image in that they are in a battle of wits. They know how they should feel. They want to feel that they love their body with all its imperfections, but instead, they feel mostly unsatisfied with what they see—not unhappy but not awesome either. How does one find their awesomeness? Read below!
You were once a toothless 5 year old with ratty hair and grubby socks inside your grubby shoes. You felt beautiful. You loved the way your body moved and felt you could do anything. What changed? How did you lose your awesomeness? Where did it go? Did someone take it from you? As clinicians, it is our job to work with our clients on getting their awesomeness back—imperfections and all!
It is important to note that addressing environment without exploring biology would be a clinical mistake. Biology and environment both play a part in eating disorders (ED). Therefore, a dedicated treatment team is needed to help individuals suffering with ED. Just as many complexities occur to contribute to eating disorders, so must complex interventions occur to treat them. Managing biological factors through proper nutrition, effective communication, and coping skills, as well as addressing environmental, social, behavioral, and cognitive triggers can promote and sustain recovery.
With a little self-discovery, you can re-discover your awesomeness again. The key to a healthy self-image, and BED recovery, is self-acceptance and not self-esteem, because we are all imperfect and therefore cannot win the approval of others all of the time. Self-acceptance involves no self-rating and can help reduce anxiety, fears, guilt, shame, sadness and avoidance of social situations.
1)teach clients to understand and replace their irrational beliefs with rational ones;
2)acknowledge their feelings (good and bad);
3)sit with these indifferent feelings and notice what comes up.
I hope you find your awesomeness!