Accepting your body, accepting yourself

If you have a big nose or a small nose, long arms or short arms, freckles or no freckles, it’s what you’ve got and these things invariably cannot be altered. Often, there are situations and circumstances that cannot be changed, but how you react to those situations and circumstances might be within your control. 

“Does poor emotional health come from poor body image or does poor body image* come from poor psychological health? I would suggest both, or either. ”

I am relatively satisfied with my body; yes I’d probably like to have a slightly different this or altered that, but I’m acceptant that I’ve got what I’ve got. After all I’m stuck with what I’ve got and along with the concept of acceptance of my authentic reality psychologically, I have also accepted that the deal I’ve been dealt regarding my physical self is probably not exactly what I would have chosen, but I’ve accepted the accurate authenticity of what my body is and it’s OK - and OK is good enough for me.

What is a healthy body image?

Being bald affects many people. I’m bald and it really does not bother me - I own my baldness - and whilst being acutely aware of how I may be accused of distortion, there are distinct benefits to being bald. I never have a bad hair day and I save a fortune by not buying shampoo and not going to the hairdressers.

I have said in the past, “I have no control over my hairline, but I do have some control over my waistline.” I’m keen to stay in reasonable shape for health reasons and yes, to a degree, I do care what I look like, but my body does not define me.

Many people can cram their heads full of self-deprecating clutter, for instance: I’m not clever enough, I’m not rich enough, I’m not quick enough, I’m not strong enough, my body doesn’t look right…

Improving one’s self is, for many people, an innate part of the enhancing drive; the actualising tendency, which is peculiar to human beings. Wanting more educationally, materially or socially or sporting wise is not to be ignored, but I believe that within the realms of realism we should try to accept ourselves as good enough and not worry what others think. 

“Measuring yourself against others is not always healthy; comparisons are dangerous and the stealer of joy. ”

I’m a firm believer that most ‘other’ people don’t have much time or the inclination to spend worrying about what most other people look like. Physical appearance is subjective and as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Many of my clients come to accept that there is no such thing as perfection and that recognising and acknowledging the accurate genuineness of any situation allows them to sit harmoniously and at ease. They tend to feel more at one, more self aware and grounded with themselves. They are more or less contented being who they truly are, not what they think, or others think they should or must be. 

By Shane Lutkin, lead Psychotherapist at Emotionalskills. 

*Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 takes place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019. The theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date with news and tips for managing emotional tension and guidance on ways to lead a fulfilling life.
View our latest newsletter here.