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How to Break the Spell of Negative Self-Image

Many of us, especially women, are lured into believing the only way to feel good about ourselves is buying that new piece of clothing or losing X amount of weight or fixing something we perceive “broken” about our physical appearance. It’s a trap many can’t escape (because perfection is an illusive goal, remember!).

But it’s easy to break the chains of negative self-image as long as we’re willing to shift our focus a little. This article in Little Buddha by Jade Yap points out that simply focusing on the world around you (instead of the churning universe inside your head), you can get back on the path of true self-acceptance.

3. Recognize and limit external factors that spark feelings of negativity.

Know your triggers—the things that immediately leave you feeling bad about yourself. These may be certain celebrity magazines or social media websites like Facebook. Identify them and take steps to limit their role in your life.

4. Discover the root cause that makes you feel bad.

You may hate an aspect or more of your appearance, convincing yourself, “If only I had a thinner body, I would be happy/successful/fulfilled.” However, more than likely, the real reason for your unhappiness lies under the surface.

For example, your fixation on getting a better body may stem from an insecurity of never being “good enough.” If this is the case, you will always find an aspect of yourself to criticize, whether it’s your weight or your hair color.

Identify the root cause and acknowledge how it’s led you to feel this way. Then remind yourself that it is an irrational insecurity that makes you feel bad about yourself and how you look.

5. Focus outward.

While it’s always important to work within oneself, it can also be helpful to turn your attention to helping others. Let’s face it: there are far more important things in the world than looks.

Volunteering in your local community, for instance, is a great way to feel positive about doing something beautiful for others and increase your confidence. It can really help to put your hang-ups in perspective.

To finally be at peace with how you look is no easy feat, especially if you have suffered from low self-esteem in the past.