We are not born with body insecurity. We are born not even paying much attention to our bodies except for what we can do. You have seen babies who stare in wonder at their hands and laugh (or cry) when they fall while trying to learn to walk.
It is much later that environmental factors often combined with a history of mental illness (family or individual history) can lead to body insecurity.
Common Causes of Body Insecurity
The causes of body insecurity include the following factors:
- Judging people based on appearance.
- Bullying during childhood about weight or appearance.
- Verbal abuse as an adult about weight or appearance.
- Toxic relationships where your weight or appearance was used against you.
- Social media pointing to an “ideal” body type.
- Well-meaning people who want you to “be healthy” and point out flaws.
- People close to you who obsess about their bodies and diets.
- Childhood with a role model who always dieted or voiced their fears about their flaws.
- Wanting to feel accepted.
- Perfectionist attitudes where you feel that you must be perfect to be loved.
Most of these factors are environmental. Even if your body insecurity stems from something that happened in the past, you can still overcome it by taking small steps in the right direction.
Overcoming body insecurity.
To overcome body insecurity, identify what factor(s) influence your thoughts and emotions.
Is it a toxic relationship? You may need to take steps to remove yourself from that relationship. A counselor can help you set boundaries and learn to value yourself again.
Do you tend to judge people based on their appearance? Ask yourself why. Is there something missing from your own life and it makes you feel better to compare yourself? Counseling can help you pinpoint what is missing and how to keep from making assumptions about others.
Do you feel depressed about your appearance after scrolling through social media? You may need to take a short break from social media platforms and see how you feel without it. If you notice a change in your mental health for the better, then that may be a sign that you need to manage your time on social media better.
If your body insecurity issues stem from the past, then you may want to consider counseling to help you move forward. Long-ingrained negative thoughts can be tough to beat without professional help. A counselor can assist you in overcoming long-held beliefs.
Stopping the cycle.
Negative thoughts, obsession over flaws, heightened emotions, and harmful behaviors feed the body insecurity cycle. For example, if you are overweight and feel self-conscious about your size, you may have thoughts like, “No one wants to see me wearing this. I’m too fat. People ignore me because of my size. I’m hideous.”
These negative thoughts leave you feeling hopeless, sad, and depressed. You begin to cry and resent being made to go to an event. You might cancel and stay home, feeling like a failure and missing out.
Counseling can help you break the cycle. You can learn to identify those negative thoughts and reframe them before they alter your emotions. You can change the behavior surrounding those thoughts. Just because you have a thought does not make it true. Learn how to challenge those intrusive thoughts.
Contact our office at San Diego Christian Counseling today to schedule a session with a counselor in San Diego to learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other psychotherapy techniques used in overcoming body insecurity.
“Walking by the Cliff”, Courtesy of Cameron Stow, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Woman in a Sweater”, Courtesy of Claude Piché, Unsplash.com, CC0 License