Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts the week on a positive note!
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!
Shoulds are often the foundation of a negative body image. I should fit into a size 6. I should be able to wear skinny jeans. I should lose weight in time for that vacation. I should look flawless every day.
I should avoid dessert. I should count calories. I should have muscle there. I should have thinner thighs.
I should exercise after having a big meal. I should feel guilty after eating certain foods.
I should eat differently. I should look differently. I should be different.
These shoulds are detrimental to our body image — and ourselves as a whole. They keep us shackled to rigidity and rob us of joy, calm and self-love.
For many of us our shoulds are so deeply entrenched that we don’t even realize that we can change them.
We just assume they’re indisputable facts. But the great news is that they’re not.
They’re unrealistic expectations that we’ve created — and ones that we have the power to erase, as well.
This exercise can help you start the process. In her book Sunny quotes eating disorder expert Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D, who says that relinquishing unrealistic expectations includes pinpointing and examining our shoulds.
For this exercise, you’ll need a pen, piece of paper or your journal.
Sunny further explains:
…The emotional consequences of these beliefs is unhealthy guilt and eroded self-worth. But things can change, with awareness and conscious effort. When I make a mistake now — whether it has to do with food, work, or relationships with friends and family — I no longer angrily (and abusively!) tell myself I should’ve done something different. I accept it, forgive myself if necessary, then think about how I might be able to deal with the next situation more healthfully or effectively.
What shoulds do you believe in? What shoulds did you believe in before, but have finally dismantled?
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Last reviewed: 15 Oct 2012