I am fascinated by the topic of body image and self-image and shared some thoughts on both in Part 1. Cancer or no cancer, it’s a topic many women, and men as well, struggle with. I will be writing more on this topic because let’s face it, breast cancer does a real number on a woman’s body. How can the way a woman feels about her body and herself in general not be dramatically impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment? If you’re a man who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer reading this, I’d love to know your thoughts too.
How did you feel about your body before cancer?
Since cancer, has your view of your physical self gone downhill?
I’m guessing many of you are nodding yes.
What about your self-image?
Has that taken a hit too, or have you managed to keep that pretty much in tact?
In all honesty, my body image, or the way I feel about my physical self, has plummeted for a whole host of reasons. My self-image I would say is somewhat damaged, but still in pretty good shape, so I guess in that respect I’m lucky.
So how does a woman (or a man) go about rediscovering, reclaiming and retaining a positive body image and self-image post cancer diagnosis?
First of all, allow yourself to grieve for the old you. This does not mean you are ungrateful or stuck in the past. Don’t apologize for missing the old you. Don’t wallow, but don’t deny. Grieving is part of moving forward. And yes, sometimes you will take one step forward and then two steps back. That’s okay.
Next I’d like to share two easy exercises that might help with restoring/reclaiming a positive body image and self-image.
#1 – Practice looking at your bare-naked self in the mirror (definitely feel free to lock the door or better yet, wait til no one’s home) for one minute a day, and then two, and then three and work your way up to five (or however many you can manage) minutes. If need be, start with 30 seconds because a minute can feel like a long time when you’re doing this exercise. Trust me. I tired it, so I know. You must look at yourself only with eyes of self-love, self-compassion and appreciation for the body you have right now, just as it is. No negative thoughts are allowed. And yes, you must keep your eyes open the whole time! You are also to say something kind/positive (this is one time I am promoting forced positivity!) about a specific physical feature that you have. Everyone can find something. Keep doing this for a week, or two, or more. Longer is better. Making it a daily habit, better yet. You can repeat the positive attributes you come up with which is helpful if you don’t feel you have much to choose from.
#2 – Each day, write down in a notebook or in a planner something you like about yourself, something you’ve accomplished, something you’re good at, just something totally unrelated to your appearance that makes you unique, special and worthy. And it doesn’t have to be anything “big”. This exercise is meant to build up your self-image and again be carried out for two weeks or longer. Again, daily is even better.
So what do you think? Helpful?
I plan to do them both (when I remember).
Why not join me?
Do have body image or self-image issues?
So you have tips to share on how to bolster up either?
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Image via mirrormate.com