What is an Affirmation?
If the term positive body affirmation throws you a bit, or the word affirmations in general, you’re not alone. Let’s take a big step back and try to orient to our most curious self before diving further in.
We can think about affirmations as gentle reminders or as things we may simply need to hear when we are having a hard time.
- They may feel positive or actually neutral in nature (sometimes working towards neutrality is the goal!)
- They are objective, honest and compassionate
They are at the end of the day an alternative option to the other things we might already be use to saying about our body or to our body (out loud or in our own head) which may be unhelpful or negative.
Consider how many times you have heard someone say out loud (or possibly heard yourself say) something along the lines of:
- “ugh I am so……..”
- “Look at my…….I really need to do something about that”
- “I hate………”
- “I have the worst………”
What is said out loud is often a softer version of what people say to themselves in their private thought world. Is this true for you? The deeply sad part is that diet culture has fostered this way of talking about bodies into becoming a normalised form of social bonding, particularly amongst women.
Picture a group of women at brunch for example who haven’t met for a long time……. What are they talking about? How long does it take for body commentary to show up? How often is that commentary judgemental or unkind? How often is that met with someone else chiming in to add their judgement on their own body and so on?
You may be fortunate to have social circles or spaces where this is not true (hooray!), but I imagine you have at least experienced something similar at some point in time.
How much time do you spend on negative or unhelpful thoughts/comments about your body?
How Could Positive Body Affirmations Help?
We have thousands of thoughts everyday. While some of our thoughts may be new thoughts, others are well-trodden thought paths. Some of these are so well trodden that we don’t even notice as they are running through our minds how quickly we follow them and then how that impacts us choosing to do things or not do certain things in response.
What are your thoughts like about your own body? Would you describe them generally as supportive and kind, harsh and critical or perhaps neutral?
Often the thoughts we have about ourselves, our relationship with food, eating and body can fall into the category of these unconscious and automatic thought patterns. This can be problematic when these thoughts are deeply self critical, potentially untrue and work to keep us feeling stuck and perhaps not able to move forward in ways that feel helpful to us or align with our values.
Body affirmation statements help us move away from the run away train that negative unconscious thoughts can be by purposefully and intentionally re-orienting our thinking towards thoughts that may better serve us. You aren’t going to change habits or your relationship with your body using affirmations alone but they could be a valuable piece to counter what is already around and offer some kindness instead of tiring criticism or judgement.
10 Helpful Positive Body Affirmations and Neutral Body Affirmations to Try Out
Below are some body affirmation statements we invite you to explore. Even choosing to work towards neutrality (rather than positivity) could be a significant shifting away from how things currently are which could be considered positive.
My body is worthy of love and respect as it is
My body has gotten me through some tough seasons of life
I am more than any number can reflect or capture
“I live in a human body and it’s normal and okay for it to change” -The Body Image Therapist
I have strengths that have nothing to do with my appearance”- The Body Image Therapist
My body always deserves to be taken care of and nourished
I’m grateful that my body is capable of _____
Even on my worst days, my body keeps trying for me
I am thankful for the hugs I have been able to give and to receive because of my body
I don’t need to be anything other than what I am right now
Tips for Practicing with Affirmations
You may like practice with one or more of the above or even give creating your own a try with the above suggestions for inspiration. Consider how you might incorporate an affirmation into your own life over the next week or month.
Remember how busy your brain is generating thoughts?
Well, the greater your exposure to your chosen affirmation/s, the more they can help characterise how you think and support you in how you may choose to act next towards your body and self. Use the tips below to help you.
- Consider spaces you are exposed to often and create a reminder there. For example a poster on the wall in your room, a post-it note on your laptop or bathroom mirror or a reminder alert or background image on your phone.
- Create a regular practice of reading your affirmation (to yourself, out loud or even writing it out). For example; upon waking up, after your morning coffee or when you brush your teeth.
Positive body affirmations are just one tool to support you in working to relate to your body in a kinder and more helpful way. Be gentle with yourself as you practice. It’s ok and normal if trying this out brings up other feelings, feels foreign and a bit uncomfortable or feels like effort to do. How long and how often have you perhaps been saying unkind things about or towards your body for? It would make sense that working to choose different words might not come naturally.
Gentle Reminder: You are working to explore and heal your relationship with your body (and possibly food and eating as well) within systems and structures that don’t make this easy. You and your body have never been and are not the problem. You are enough exactly as you are in this very moment.
Don’t wait to reach out for more help. You can find more helpful information through a variety of resources and organisations including the Butterfly Foundation.
You may also like to read: “10 Ways to Be Kind to Your Body” if you found this blog on positive body affirmations helpful.
**Co-written with Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Wander and Nourish Nutrition Intern Misa Mojarrabi. Thank you Misa!