There's no question that our body image influences our relationship behavior (heck, we did a week-long Experts spotlight on it, that's how influential it is!). Low body image and self-esteem blinds us to our own self-worth, which in turn can make us settle for a so-so relationship or give up on searching for love altogether. As part of our Love Starts Within spotlight, YourTango Experts sound in on how to stop hating on our thighs (or stomach, or whatever we've deemed our "problem area") and start loving ourselves fully—because if we don't love and accept ourselves, flaws and all, how can we expect someone else to?
1. Discover self-confidence through what you do—not how you look.
When you feel really good about your body and yourself, you radiate self-confidence, and that is sexy to both men and women. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, how flat your stomach is or what size clothes you wear. The more you like yourself, the more others will want to be around you and enjoy your company. Self-acceptance of your body makes it easier to feel relaxed, lighten up, get out to meet new people and try new things. With that level of positive confidence, you will have greater success attracting a new love in your life and keeping the romance and fun in your relationship.
Self-confidence and feeling sexy is tough to imagine when you are overweight and focused on what is wrong with your body. Our media-obsessed culture has taught us that we need to be thin to be beautiful and lovable. The shame that comes from not being thin enough can impact how we see our worth and our level of self-confidence. This in turn leads to a preoccupation of doing whatever it takes to get thin, yet the dieting, obsession and self criticism that often follows is anything but sexy and takes a toll on finding and keeping relationships.
Instead of focusing on getting thin, the better way to feel good about your body is to find ways to be more active and make healthier food choices. The goal isn't a quick fix that won't last or change how you feel about yourself. The goal is to create a healthy lifestyle you can enjoy and stick with. Even if you start with baby steps, you will feel more successful, energized and happier. Success, no matter how small, feels really good and keeps you motivated to do even more good things for your body. Soon you will notice you feel more fit and confident, and that will help you feel sexier, more playful and open to doing new things in and outside the bedroom with the love in your life.
- Life Coach and YourTango Expert, Alice Greene
2. Stop the negative self-talk!
When you get dressed, do you look in the mirror and think, "My thighs are SO big" or "I wish my boobs were bigger" or "That pooch, no matter what I do, just doesn't go away!"
Women tend to only notice their flaws and imperfections and overlook their bodies' positive attributes. When you have continuous negative self-talk, you begin to believe these thoughts are true and they become embedded in your brain. This negative self-talk slowly begins to chip away at your self-esteem. If every day you think, "I feel fat, I look fat, I feel bad that I look and feel this way," then how can you be happy with your body and your self? Whether you are single, in a relationship or married, how you feel about yourself can have an effect on finding love or sustaining the relationship you have.
We've all heard "You have to love yourself before someone else loves you." The reason why you hear this all the time is because it's true. Unhappy people tend to push people away, while happy people attract people to them. Men find something very attractive in happy, confident women. And lucky for us they don't notice the so-called flaws that we think are there. Men love women's bodies. As women, we are the most critical of ourselves.
So how do you begin to change the way you feel about your body? You have to flip that switch in your head and change the way you speak to yourself. Take a good look at yourself and go ahead and try "I love my body," "I love this body that gave birth to my children," or "I love my soft curves." Say what you love and then repeat it every day. Give yourself the respect and love you deserve. If you love you, you will be open to having others love you, too.
- Health/Wellness Coach and YourTango Expert Lisa Goldberg
3. Think like a baby.
Babies have no shame about exploring each part of the body with awe and fascination. Over time, life teaches us that we are not good enough, not pretty enough or not worthy of being loved exactly as we are. We should all aim to return to that innocent, uncomplicated state of being, to remember, "I am perfect, whole and complete." Allow yourself to be fascinated again! Being out of alignment with this core truth creates suffering and prevents us from creating deep, meaningful relationships.
If you are feeling insecure about your body, you may be preventing yourself from being open to real love and intimacy. Do you avoid the risk of being hurt or feeling rejected? We often reject ourselves first by believing the judgmental voice in our own heads and can't believe it is possible for another to truly embrace our flaws.
Be grateful for your body, your life, the people in it and your accomplishments—and start blocking out all the negative chatter that ruined your innocent state of being in the first place! There is nothing more attractive than a woman who loves and honors herself and is grateful for the fabulous life she has created.
Loving yourself first opens the door to a healthy partnership. If you can love and accept yourself "as is," you will magnetically attract a partner who is also healthy and whole. When you appreciate and honor your magical and miraculous body first and foremost, the heart is strong, the mind is sharp and the soul is free to find its mate. Imagine what the two of you can create together!
- Health/Wellness Coach and YourTango Expert Richele Henry
Written by Lisa Goldberg, Alice Greene & Richele Henry for YourTango.com