This guest post was contributed by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt, who writes at My Intercontinental Life.
Our bodies are our life-long companions, they are always there for us, from the day we are born until the last day we spend on this earth. Our heart beats between 2.5 to 3 billion times in an average lifetime and our skin renews itself around every 30 days.
That’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it? But an overwhelming amount of people are at war with their bodies for most of their lives. They constantly wish to look differently, be taller, skinnier, have longer legs or a prettier face.
Millions of people think that if they could only lose a few pounds, their lives would magically fall into place and they would finally be happy.
And while they engage in wishful thinking, they never take action and let their poor body image stand in the way of creating a truly successful life.
I know what it is like to have your body dictate what your life is going to look like. From my early childhood, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin and I desperately wanted to look differently. My hatred for my own body was one of the reasons I developed anorexia nervosa at the ago of 10, an illness that would accompany me throughout my teens and the early part of my twenties.
My body was my biggest enemy and I developed destructive habits to change it and form it in ways that it was simply not meant to be. All the while, I thought that my life would turn around once I would be happy with the way I looked.
This never happened, I disconnected more and more from my body and my life was put on hold. It is needless to say that I did not achieve a lot in life because I had put a mental limit to my potential as a person.
However, after I committed to recovery about a year ago, I changed the way I thought about my body and its parts and I was able to transform my life in many aspects. The life I live now has nothing to do anymore with the sad, depressed existence I led for 14 years.
By breaking down this mental blockade, I was able to let myself grow as a person and I finally took my life and my future in my own hands. What you can and will achieve in life hardly ever has anything to do with the way you look, it is all about how you approach your fate and what you make of it, no matter your body shape or size.
How can you tell if your body image stands in the way of your success in life? Well, here are five obvious signs and action steps to make a change.
You spend hours upon hours worrying about the way you look
If you tend to feel bad about your appearance and you dwell on that fact for hours each day, you rob your mind of time to be creative, think differently and focus on what really matters. But not only that, you also waste tons of energy that you could use for so much more important activities.
When you stand in front of the mirror complaining about this body part or that, you put a huge negative layer over your day and this will affect every single situation and every single decision of your day. Your attitude will simply not be the best if you constantly put yourself down.
Do you really want to waste your time and life by reducing yourself to body parts or do you want to make a difference in this world by doing something meaningful and by adding value to other people’s lives?
Use your energy to work on your legacy instead on mentally beating yourself up. The next time you look in the mirror, focus on the parts you like and tell yourself how amazing you are. Repeat this exercise over and over again.
Whenever you think negatively about your body, turn those thoughts into positive once. You will notice that over time, your self-confidence will shoot to through the roof and you won’t spend nearly as much time sitting around with negative thoughts.
Turning your thoughts around will make a drastic change in your life.
You don’t engage in social activities because of your body
When you avoid going out with your friends because you fear they might judge you or you are too self-conscious to face real life situations, your body image keeps you from having tons of fun. Do you really believe that other people will only hang out with you because of your size? Do you think that others will talk negatively about you because you weigh a certain weight? Well, here is a newsflash for you: you are not in middle school anymore (at least, I hope you’re not) and people simply don’t care. People are not as superficial as the media makes us believe. Your family and friends love you because of the person you are and they don’t think of you any less when you’re not perfect.
Go out with your friends, have a few drinks, dance and have fun. Go play basketball, even if you are as short as I am. Go swimming with your friends, even if have a bit of a belly. Be a dork, be goofy and simply let go. Don’t worry about your weight and simply enjoy the moments. You only live once.
You don’t feel you have the right to speak up because of your body shape
I know this point so well. I was always afraid of speaking up and telling the world my opinion. I thought that this was a right reserved for those with a better body shape. What a limiting and ridiculous notion that is!
Our value as a person does not have anything to do with our weight, but everything with what is inside: our compassion, our wit, our intelligence, our soul, our knowledge, our insecurities, our love and so much more.
So, no matter your shape or size, show the world your brilliance and put some value into each and every discussion. Ask for that promotion you have always dreamed of and worked so hard to get. You deserve it and your boss does not give your weight a second thought. Voice your opinion, even if it differs from everybody else’s and don’t let your body insecurities hold you back.
You will see how much your life will change by stopping to hide your true voice behind your body.
You don’t walk tall because of your body
When you don’t walk with your head held high because you fear that others will notice you, you clearly stand in the way of your own greatness. You should be proud of the person you are and you should make that apparent in your posture.
Being confident is one of the most important aspects if you want to live to your full potential. Your body has no right to put a barrier to that. By sitting up straight or walking without lowering your gaze, you can instantly exude confidence. You will benefit from this in all aspects of your life, from relationships to your career.
You avoid relationships because of your body
This is the most critical point regarding the way that your body image can damage your life. If you avoid intimate relationships or you always keep a certain distance to others because you feel self-conscious about yourself, you won’t ever experience the richness of life.
Relationships are the most rewarding experiences in life and, again, your body image has no business keeping you from being in a fulfilling, loving and intimate relationship with yourself and with a partner.
Let me ask you this simple question: would you rather be alone for the rest of your life than reaching out of your comfort zone and giving your body simply the role it was designed to have (which is keeping you alive)? You are so much more than your body, but you have to believe this in order to have other people see it.
When someone truly and deeply loves you, the person does not care about an extra few pounds or a few pounds less. When someone tells you they truly like you, don’t question this fact, but believe them.
Don’t doubt yourself too much and simply give your body a chance to make you happen at the exact weight it is right now. Don’t wait for tomorrow, but act today. Life won’t wait for you to finally feel comfortable, it is up to you to change your mindset and start falling in love with yourself and your body today.
Your life will thank you for it!