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When’s the last time you whispered sweet nothings to your body?Stop Bullying Free DIgital Photos

No, I am not crazy for suggesting that. I imagine it’s been a while…or never.

What do you say to your body, then? What do you say about it?

Maybe you don’t say anything outright, and you aren’t too sure that you ever “say” anything. Dig down and peek at what you think and feel about your body. What messages do you believe, down deep?

That your body is too big? Not the right shape? Too doughy? Too X and not enough Y? Basically, that your body is not good enough.

If you took what you think about your body and said it out loud to anyone else, it would be insulting. Maybe even verbal abuse. So much of what we say to ourselves is horribly negative. It’s no wonder, though. We’re inundated on a daily basis with impossible expectations for beauty. Messages from:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Coworkers
  • The media
  • The larger culture

These negative messages are so prevalent that you may not remember ever thinking anything different. Impossible expectations about body size are so common that they get internalized. They seem normal.

Language is powerful. How people talk to you (and how you talk to yourself) creeps into your psyche. Negative messages weave their way into your identity and erode your self-esteem. At the very least, they hurt your body image.

When I worked as a therapist for women who’d experienced domestic violence, they consistently reported that the verbal abuse was far worse than the physical abuse they’d endured. The verbal abuse was worse than black eyes, broken bones, and burns. The jeers of their abusers became their beliefs about themselves: stupid; disgusting; incompetent; dependent. No one will ever want you.

Take a moment and reflect on what you tell yourself. That you’re a loser? Disgusting? Unworthy?

Are you your own bully? You may never have thought about it that way.

I posed a 30-day challenge to readers of the Las Vegas MomsBlog to stop talking smack about their bodies. To find things about their bodies they are grateful for instead.

This proved to be, in the words of one reader, “a challenging challenge.” Another reader posted, “This is a super hard challenge for me!!”

I wish it weren’t this hard for women, but I’m not surprised that it is. With practice, it gets easier. You can help change the conversation we all have about our bodies. Start with yourself, by practicing gratitude. Take a moment each day to state something positive about your body. For example, instead of complaining about your dimply thighs, give thanks that they carry you up the stairs.

This might seem clumsy at first, but it gets easier. Changing your language is significant, and the effects can be profound.

Make your inner body-bully shut up and stop trying to steal your lunch money.