Castlewood Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog

Body Image and the Power of Self-Talk Why Saying is Believing

A person’s body image, however it falls along the spectrum from negative to positive, is shaped by a variety of factors, some of which can be controlled. A positive body image is being able to perceive ourselves how we actually are, and enjoy our body just as it is. For many, this is easier said than done. Research has shown that from a neuroscience perspective, positive self-talk is like internal restructuring. Psychologist and clinical director at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania, David Sarwer, says one of the first tools he uses with patients is to coach them to use gentler, more neutral language as they evaluate their bodies. The idea is to come to terms with what are perceived flaws, rather than try and trick the mind into doing a complete 180. By taking the heat out of the way you think about a certain trait, you can slowly move toward more accepting affirmations. Instead of thinking something like: “my legs are huge and I hate them,” actively replace this with “my legs are generous and curvy and I accept them just as they are.” Replacing self-talk in increments can have a more realistic approach to setting a healthy standard for positive body image. It can be a challenge to start out with a negative self-image, and say to yourself in the mirror: “I am beautiful just as I am,” and feel genuine. Changing beliefs about body image will require a realistic and heartfelt attempt to change self-talk into something reflective of a stronger confidence. Another great tool is to think of yourself in the third person, like a personal pep talk. However silly this may seem, research has shown it really works. We can begin to think of ourselves as we would a beloved friend or family member: “what is right for Chris here?” Learning to change the way we speak to ourselves in this way, can, in fact, be an enormous boost to our self-esteem and self-image. Keep the conversation going by commenting here, and then sharing your personal affirmations on Instagram using hashtag #NoFilter. Your affirmation may be what someone else is seeking as a guide in their own recovery!