National Hypnotherapy Society | Improve your Body Image with…

Body image is something that many of us can struggle with. In today’s modern world, we are bombarded on our phones, televisions, and advertising with the message that we are not enough. To be acceptable and even desirable to others we need to wear certain makeup, don the latest fashion apparel and have seemingly perfect-sized bodies with beautiful hair and flawless skin. This almost unavoidable barrage of advertising and portrayals of perfect lives on social media can leave many of us with a disappointed frown when we see ourselves in the mirror. While it is perfectly common to have parts of us that we would like to change, what we look like and how we see ourselves can be two very different things. A large nose can become an obsession for its owner, growing larger and more noticeable by the day, whereas to others it wouldn’t even merit a second look.

The society we live in can push people from wanting to lose some holiday weight to having severely impacted mental health, leading to extreme behaviours such as starvation or unnecessary medical procedures to look a certain way. In some cases, those who take extreme steps to alter their appearance can be suffering from conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), muscle dysmorphia or eating disorders. BDD is a mental health disorder wherein a person becomes fixated on a perceived flaw, to a point that is far removed from reality. This can result in ritualistic behaviours, unnecessary plastic surgery and even self-harm to “fix” the issue themselves. Muscle dysmorphia is found more commonly in males, who incorrectly perceive their muscles to be too small. This can lead to extreme amounts of exercise or taking steroid injections to reach the goal they hold in their mind. Eating disorders, while they have many causes and manifestations, can sometimes be brought on by poor body image leading to a warped perception of how we look. This can lead to over-exercising, food restriction, binging, purging, and ritualistic behaviours, as well as becoming dangerously over or underweight.

Fortunately, a counterculture is slowly taking hold and beauty is being found more in acceptance and celebration of our differences, rather than attaining an impossible goal or looking a certain way. We are entering an age of self-love and acceptance, as well as towards those we share the earth with. However, for some this may be easier to achieve than others. If you have been ridiculed or bullied for an aspect of your physical appearance, it can be easier said than done to shake off unhelpful perceptions of your body image. Even a throwaway comment from a stranger can have a ripple effect on our self-image, particularly during parts of our life when we undergo changes such as puberty or menopause. So, for those who need some extra support to finally begin to accept and love the bodies that they live in, where do we go?

Your local hypnotherapist may have the answer.

Hypnotherapy can allow us to make impactful and lasting changes to thought patterns, behaviours, and beliefs about our body image. Furthermore, we can use hypnotherapy to better understand the source of why we may look at ourselves in such a negative way, giving us the power to free ourselves from our past perceptions and see ourselves with newfound love and understanding. Often, those with poor self-image will adopt certain behaviours to provide short-term relief from their discomforts, such as excessive grooming or unhealthy eating habits. Unhelpful habits can be hard to kick when we rely on them for relief, and hypnotherapy can be a great tool for giving us an extra push towards success.

Hypnotherapy can help you to learn to turn your focus away from negative thought patterns and beliefs to more positive ones. This can be achieved using neurolinguistic programming (NLP) to instil the habit of rewording how we think about something. For example, thoughts such as “my hair is too thin” can be trained to become more positive and self-affirming, such as “my hair is healthy and well-cared for.” Re-training our brains to approach ourselves and how we look in a more positive, accepting, and helpful way simply through making changes to our language can have a ripple effect so that not only do we learn to overcome a particular problem with our body image, but also utilise these skills to deepen our self-esteem in many different ways.

Some schools of hypnotherapy aim at seeking the source of our pain and facing it in a safe environment so that we can look at the event(s) through a wiser lens and weaken the emotional hold that it can have over us. For example, an upsetting event that occurred in our formative years or painful memories of bullying can be approached during a hypnotherapy session and, with the support of your hypnotherapist, put to rest the residual pain that you may have been carrying with you throughout the years. The reasoning behind approaches such as these are that if the root cause of your pain is healed, then the resulting bad habits and ways of viewing yourself will fade away on their own, with no more fire to fuel them.

Taking the first steps towards improving your body image can be frightening and make you feel hesitant or vulnerable, but if you feel as if you need a hand to make a lasting and positive change to your relationship with yourself, then hypnotherapy can be a fantastic and fast way to plant the seeds of change and set you on the path to a life lived with more peace and acceptance of the brilliant, unique person that you are. If you can find the strength to love your body that bit more, imagine all the things that you can enjoy and achieve with a much-needed positive mindset. If you want to know more, get in touch with a hypnotherapist on our accredited register to find out how they can help you.