(This post below was originally published at Weightless. Click on the link here to see for yourself...I'm pretty proud of it. In case you missed it the first time around, go check it out)
Since I was a young girl, I have struggled to keep a positive body image. My journey to get where I am today included practicing about every kind of eating disorder, self-destructive behavior, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
Fortunately, I have found help and healing through therapy and a solid support system.
Even though I have stopped the dangerous behaviors, I still have progress to make in the body image department. Daily, I am tempted to verbally beat myself up about my appearance, my accomplishments, or whatever flaw I can find.
Among other positive body image rituals — such as planting encouraging note cards around the house, or exercising to enhance my life instead of as a required punishment — I have found another beneficial habit that I have applied in my life.
Acknowledging one another as human beings.
I am guilty of passing people by on the street or in public places without so much as a smile. Because everyone else does it, I think it is OK.
In reality, after some thought and reflection, I think I ignore fellow human beings because I want to be invisible. I don’t want to be noticed because, first, I don’t think I deserve it, and, second, I am afraid of their judgments.
I have such a poor body image that I am afraid of another person acknowledging my body.
Will they see me how I see me? Will they affirm my worthlessness?
I am in the habit of minding my own business and living in my own world because of these underlying fears. Sometimes, I even wear my ear buds to pretend I am unavailable.
I know I am not the only one who acts this way. So many times we pass each other by hoping not to be noticed. Maybe we even hide from our friends, or other people we kind of know.
I think this common human characteristic is detrimental to our positive body image. Every time we ignore another person, or are ignored ourselves, we are affirming our beliefs; that we are not worthy, good, and deserving as we are.
This simple act of withholding to say hello is supporting your false belief that you are invisible. Not only are you confirming your fears, you are degrading the other person’s value as well.
After realizing what I was doing to myself and other people, I made an effort to acknowledge my fellow human beings when I had the opportunity.
You don’t have to be “that person” who pretends everyone is their best friend. Be yourself. As you are passing someone on the street, a small, genuine smile and “Hi” goes a long way. Even if you aren’t in the mood, muster up as proper of a greeting as you can. Fake it ‘til you make it. This practice will not only affirm your self-worth, but it will put you in a better mood, too.
You are a person, not a ghost.
I’ve been doing this particular exercise for almost two months, and I have only had one person not acknowledge me back when I said hello. And I am not even sure if she heard me.
The reason acknowledging others helps to boost my body image is because, if I notice others and acknowledge their presence, I am noticed as well. If I affirm others as they are, then I am affirmed as I am.
Let us pay attention to our humanness, our value, our worth, and our dignity and respond appropriately even if that means going against the norm. I guarantee you will begin to enjoy a more nourishing life.