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Self-Image: The Mind-Body Connection

by eHarmony Staff

Self-Image: The Mind-Body Connection

There’s no shame in admitting it. Making peace with what you see in the mirror can be a genuine struggle. For some of us, it’s a life long process – one filled with big obstacles and small victories, real opportunities and hard lessons.

After all, every person has such a unique, complicated relationship with that reflection staring back. Just think about everything involved in how you view yourself. Every individual faces his/her own set of life experiences and characters and relationships that all cumulatively influence the self concept. Objectivity is nearly impossible. Insecurities can become so deeply rooted they become an inextricable part of how we relate to the world. And one’s perception can feel like the absolute truth even when it couldn’t be further from what everyone else sees.

So what is a single person to do in a world increasingly obsessed with image and perfection? How do you keep your self-esteem intact when rejection is the only given in the dating game? What do you do when you’ve read the expert-penned bestsellers and watched the day time talk shows but still feel a little less than when you wake up with a blemish or new gray hair? Is it even possible to be single and feel truly confident and comfortable with that person in the mirror?

Though there is no silver bullet answer to these questions for every person every single day day, take heart. Consider two simple but powerful tips to help keep your perspective healthy and by extension, your self-image strong. You might be surprised at how effective mind over matter can be.

Accentuate the positive.
When you look in the mirror do you tend to focus on what’s bad/imperfect/you’d like to change? Every one of us can plead guilty to this. Next time, try to catch yourself doing this and begin shifting your self talk.  We’re not telling you to try to completely silence that critical inner voice. That would be nearly impossible.  

But try this: for every less than ideal trait you notice, make the point to lovingly appreciate one great trait you possess. Truly commit to doing this every day, day in and day out. It may sound and feel strange to compliment yourself every day. Many of us are taught to criticize instead of praise ourselves.  We fear being seen as too arrogant or boastful or self-centered.  But put those thoughts aside.  Stop looking outside yourself for validation. Instead try handing it to yourself, consistently and without apology.

Also make every effort to stop comparing yourself to others. That’s setting yourself up to fall short.  You will never be anyone but you. By respecting your individual strengths every single day, you’ll defuse the power of your weaknesses to control your thoughts and behaviors. And you will begin to embrace a more integrated, complete picture of yourself.

Do something about the "negative."
Yes, there are things about yourself that you will ever be able to change. They are indelible, part of your DNA, they make you wonderful you.  But there are so many aspects of our physical selves that are malleable nowadays.

So stop complaining to anyone who will listen. End the obsessing. It’s just not attractive. Instead take action.  If a feature or aspect of your appearance bothers you and it’s within your control, do something about it. That can mean hitting the gym, changing how you eat, updating your wardrobe, caring more for your skin, getting a new hairstyle, seeing a therapist, talking to trusted friends for an outside perspective, joining an online forum for people who can relate and offer suggestions.

So often, we fear being called vain or shallow.  Don’t fall into this trap. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be the most attractive version of yourself possible.  So work with what you have.  Make every effort to present your best self to the world.  Always be reasonable, healthy and smart; but never be afraid to do whatever you are comfortable doing to feel like a million bucks.

You may be single but you are not alone.
Finally, keep in mind, you are not alone in this journey toward greater self love and self acceptance. Plain or stunning, young or old, man or woman: every person feels insecurity and carries around self doubt. No one is exempt. But by beginning to look at every new day as a blank slate, you can begin to shed some of that poisonous self talk and criticism. You can begin to see every encounter with your reflection as a way to build yourself instead of tear yourself down.  You can shed what’s unhealthy.  You alone have the power to transform your views and your perception.

Remember, a healthier mind-body connection is more of a journey than a single destination. As with anything in life, some days will be better than others.  The real success comes in becoming increasingly loving and accepting. And remember if you can’t even nurture and be good to yourself, it will be a real challenge to find a healthy, enduring relationship with anyone else. 


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