Body Neutrality

Body image is how you see your body, and how you feel and think about what you see. You may see your body differently than others do. This happens because body image is not based only on your physical body; it is influenced by a number of factors, including childhood experiences, time spent looking at particular media, mood, and stress level. People with negative body images have distorted views of their bodies and don’t like what they see. They judge their bodies as “bad” in some way. Positive body image, on the other hand, generally includes having an objectively clear

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Self-compassion: “The hardest skill”

As a born perfectionist, I have naturally been terrible at self-compassion (the two do not play well together). I still struggle with it, even though I want to be kind to myself when I am in pain. In some areas, I’ve made great strides. In others, I still default to self-criticism over self-compassion. I just mentioned to a friend that I’m writing about self-compassion and she said, “Ah, the hardest skill.” Self-compassion is tricky business. As a society, we are truly awful at self-compassion. We’re not good at it, we don’t understand it, and we devalue it. And that is

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It has always been challenging for me to fully convey what the word “acceptance” means, when it comes to accepting painful feelings or painful situations. “Acceptance” has a bad rap, no doubt about it. No one gets excited when I suggest we work on accepting pain. A few patients have flat-out refused. The predominant assumption is that acceptance means that you settle for things as they are and never try to improve them. It is misunderstood as “giving in.” Actually, acceptance has nothing to do with settling or giving in – they are unrelated concepts. Acceptance is simply about not

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Be the Change

Too often, I have caught myself sitting in my comfy therapist chair sucking in my stomach, or resting my arm in front of it. It is a subconscious habit, born from decades of subconscious societal training. I am sure I have done it while encouraging someone to let go of judgment about their body. As a responsible human, I had to look at that behavior and what message it sends the person sitting across from me. The message might be that I am not comfortable with my belly. Worse, it might be that I have judgment of others’ bellies and

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Making Room for Painful Emotions

Emotional pain is part of being human. If we feel positive emotions, we will feel negative emotions. That’s just how it works. We can’t avoid pain. Patients come to me for help with all kinds of pain: fear, sadness, shame, loneliness, self-loathing, overwhelming stress. The typical request, of course, is to help them get rid of the pain. People generally don’t love hearing that I can’t get rid of it, but I can help them change how they experience it. Almost no one wants to hear me say, “Hey, let’s try making room for that pain.” I get it. It

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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

This is one of those truths I wish I had been taught as a kid. As we know, our brains churn out thousands of thoughts, all day long. What I didn’t know as a kid is that not all of these thoughts are true, relevant, or helpful. The brain’s job is to spit out thoughts based on all kinds of random and non-random input. Our job is to figure out which thoughts to pay attention to. I did not know, growing up, that it was my job to be smarter than my brain. It took me quite a ways into

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