Psychology of Body Image: Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Perception versus Reality

I was motivated to write this post and film an accompanying video after witnessing so many students overwrought by thoughts of inadequacy about how they looked.

In reality, there was no doubt that they were healthy and whole, but in their minds, they believed the opposite.

A phenomenon heightened by imaginary audience and social anxiety, which reaches its peak in adolescence.

Imaginary Audience Video: Click Here 
Body Image Video: Click Here  

Psychology Research

What are the underlying mechanisms?

These articles provide insight into why body dissatisfaction continues to be an issue, despite countless campaigns to turn the tide.

Article 1

The Image in the Mirror and the Number on the Scale

Link https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3610322

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Article 2

The Effects of Social Media on Body Image and Mental Health

Link http://lifesciencesjournal.org/2020/02/the-effects-of-social-media-on-body-image-and-mental-health

Article 3

Body Weight and Self-Perception are Associated with Depression

Link Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Psychology Homework

The First Step Towards Change is Awareness

1. Reality Testing

The 15 questions below challenge cognitive distortions and perceptions using reality itself.

This inquiry is not limited to body image and weight and thus can be applied to areas of life where you find yourself overthinking and ruminating.

Reality Testing Homework

Source: Challenging Cognitive Distortions

  1. What evidence do I have to support this thought or belief?
  2. Am I assuming the worst?
  3. Am I overgeneralizing?
  4. What would I say to a friend in this situation?
  5. How can I test my assumptions/beliefs to find out if they’re accurate?
  6. Do I have a trusted friend whom I can check out these thoughts with?
  7. Is this thought helpful?
  8. Am I making assumptions?
  9. How can I test the accuracy of this thought?
  10. Are there exceptions to these absolutes (always, never)?
  11. Is it really in my control?
  12. Can I look for “shades of gray”?
  13. Am I making this personal when it isn’t?
  14. Am I holding myself to an unreasonable standard?
  15. Are there other ways that I can think about this or myself?
Related: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

2. Community Discussion

In addition to spending time in self reflection and reality testing, it is important to open up the conversation to the community at large.

In doing so we move into collective problem-solving, empowering solutions, and public health education.

Podcast Interview

Be Yourself: Happy. Healthy. Hopeful.

Turning Self-Criticism into Self-Compassion 

In this episode, Stephani and Dr. Dinardo speak about what positive psychology is, turning your perceived flaws into strengths by moving from self-criticism to self-compassion, posttraumatic growth and how adversity can be beneficial to us, boundaries around social media use, the magic of prevention work and maintaining hope”. Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA)

Listen to Interview: Click Here
Watch Video of Post: Click Here

2020 Life Lessons: Be Strong Enough To Be Gentle

Lockdowns have us spending a lot of extra time with the ones we love.

Especially during the holidays.

And if you’re anything like our household, it requires a whole new level of relationship skills.

A deeper level of empathy and compassion for the pressures of the people we are living with.

Helpful Tips: Psychology Today

What worked before, doesn’t necessarily work now.

And if it does, it takes more patience, more compassion, more love.

For ourselves and others.

Emotionally Intelligent COVID Conversations

How does this show up in our home?

Emotional Intelligence: Resources

One approach that has helped tremendously is how I ask to have my needs met.

Not what I say but how I say it.

Same message.

Different Approach.

A new level of gentleness.

Power versus Force

Kindness versus Conviction

The beauty of this 2020 life lesson is that when I am strong enough to be gentle: I am heard.

What life lessons has 2020 taught you?

Watch 2 min Video of Post: Click Here

Anger is a sign that something needs to change

Anger Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com

Individuals are often looking for healthier ways to express their emotions.

For Example: Anger

That said, it’s not as simple as becoming “more calm” or “less explosive”.

The first step in transformation and lasting change is looking below the surface.

The Kübler-Ross Model provides insight:

5 Stages of Grief and Change

The goal is to discover if angry thoughts, actions, or emotions are serving a purpose.

Is anger helping or hurting?

How is anger serving you

Why Anger?

Perhaps anger allows someone to speak up, say no, set a boundary, or bond with friends.

And if this is the case, the goal of coaching is to help clients replace confrontations (for example) with more effective communication patterns.

PSYCHOLOGY HOMEWORK

Anger → Awareness

First: Set aside time to journal thoughts and emotions about “hot topics”. This allows for a cooling off period and a chance for self reflection and integration.

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Second: Plan a mutually beneficial time to discuss anger triggers and solutions with friends and family.

This 2-step communication technique results in safe, open, and engaging conversations that move both relationships and actions forward. Win Win!

Reflection Questions

  1. What Purpose Does Anger Serve in Your Life? Gains versus Losses?
  2. Does It Strengthen or Deplete You?
  3. Does Anger Move You Further Away from Your Dreams or Closer to Your Dreams?
  4. What In Your Life Needs To Change?
  5. Do You Need More Effective Ways of Coping with Frustration and/or Loss?

Once you understand the underlying purpose anger serves in your life, you’re ready for the next stage in the change process:

Transition and Transformation

Change Quote DrAndreaDinardo.com.

Psychology Resources

  1. New Conceptualizations of Anger: https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar03/advances
  2. How Anger Affects the Body: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/the-mind-body-connection/202007/what-causes-anger-and-how-it-affects-the-body
  3. Healthy Anger Release Techniques: https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-release-anger
  4. Assessing Motivation To Change: https://drandreadinardo.com/2018/08/18/why-change-now

Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

Why are we so hard on ourselves DrAndreaDinardo.com

WHY ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES?

Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.

PSYCHOLOGY INSIGHTS

What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 

PSYCHOLOGY SOLUTIONS

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How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

  • Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

“Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”