I’ve taken a lot from therapy, but the main thing that it has taught me is this; how I perceive myself is in my head. Other people do not see me in the same light that I see myself in.
When I started undergoing body image therapy, it was very clear from the start that I had serious issues with my body image. I was asked to do some ‘string work’ (if you’re familiar with this, then you will know how stupid you feel when you first do it.) It basically entails creating the size you perceive your body to be using string. When you have done this, your therapist wraps some string around your body so that you can see the size your body actually is. The idea of this is to prove that the way we see ourselves often starkly differs from the way we actually are. I perceived my size to be drastically bigger than I actually was, and so it was evident that body image therapy was needed.
Vanessa, my incredible therapist, taught me that often I feel ‘big’/bloated when I’ve eaten something I perceive to be ‘unhealthy.’ This means that the way I feel physically about my body often arises as a result of the way I feel mentally about what I have eaten. If I feel guilty for eating something, I also feel guilty about the way I look. It’s helpful to keep this in mind when I do feel bloated. I know rationally that there is never any bloating there- eating one bar of chocolate won’t cause me to gain 100 lbs- but in the moment it can all feel so overwhelming.
So, to conclude, the main thing that I have taken from therapy is that, as real as my thoughts may seem, 9 times out of 10, they are not real, they are just a negative image I have created of myself as a result of guilt.
I hope that you may have been able to relate to this post. If you can relate to it, keep in mind the points that I have discussed. Next time you notice that you’re experiencing poor body image, take some time out to try and rationalise things in your head. It might help to keep a notebook to hand so that you can write down exactly when you feel your body image slipping. By recording each time you have a bad day, you should be able to notice patterns that can be discussed in therapy.