Do you have any suggestions for people struggling with a negative body image? Thank you.
Well, what is a negative body image? A thought. It is not your body, it is a thought ABOUT the body that is believed, perhaps supported by other humans and then regarded as real.
It is likely that if you had not grown up in this particular society, you would not have any kind of negative body image in your mind. It is a kind of programming, a kind of conditioning to judge certain shapes as bad and others as good.
But as long as you don’t know that it is purely societal rather than a real thing - then it will feel as if it harasses you. You can tell it is just an invention of the human mind by meeting a dog, or a cat, or a bird, or a mouse. When they look at you they have no judgements about how your body looks, if it is good or if it is bad. It is a human mind phenomenon, and one that gets largely blown out of proportion by whoever it is that has a judgement about themselves.
If you pay attention to the sense “I Am”, the sense of existence, then you can feel that it is not an image. It is a feeling. If this feeling of existence gets connected to an idea, such as “my body looks bad in some way”, then we feel IDENTIFIED with this thought, and so we feel like WE are bad in some way. Distinguish between yourself and a thought that attaches itself to the mind, to the mind-made identity.
What happens if you do not resist against the negative body image? If it is there, then it is there, there is nothing that you can do if it is already there. So then what happens if you welcome it, accept it fully, crazily, so that there is no longer a split-off separate self who feels a victim of it? It feels uncomfortable, but see what happens if you genuinely accept, if you no longer fight against it.
You will see that it loses power or dissolves. If not, detect how much fight there still is within you, and let the fight continue, but don’t take yourself to be the one fighting, it is just an energy inside that if given space to play out, will play itself out.
See that all of this is based in thoughts, and thoughts are never what they pretend to represent. If I say the word “apple” - this is just a noise. It isn’t the actual thing. It is useful practically because then you could hand me an apple, or I could give you an apple, but don’t mistake your language to be the truth of anything in the world. It is just a practical tool, not the truth.