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SIZE POSITIVE: Take steps for self esteem repairself esteem

by Carol A. Johnson, MA

1. Weight is not a measure of self-worth. Why should it be? Your self-worth is your view of yourself as a total person— how you treat others; how you treat yourself; the contributions you make to your family, your friends, your community, and society in general. Your weight is just your weight. Don’t give it any more importance than that.

2. List your assets, talents, and accomplishments and review that list often. Add to your list daily.

3. Focus on the positive aspects of your life — a job you like, good friends, a nice home.

4. Stop criticizing yourself. The inner voice that’s telling you you’re no good is a liar. View the voice as an unwelcome intruder and show it the door!

5. Avoid “globalizing.” Instead of saying “I’m such a failure,” say: “I didn’t do that one little thing quite right, but I do most things right.

6. Let go of perfectionism, particularly in terms of food. You probably eat pretty healthily a lot of the time. Stop rebuking yourself for the occasional indulgence. Quit thinking of foods as “good” and “bad.” Instead, use such terms as “a good thing to eat frequently” or ” a good thing to eat occasionally.”

7. Develop mastery. What are you good at? Capitalize on these things. Seek further education or training. It’s fun to have things we do well.

8. Develop a more positive body image by appreciating your body’s functional nature. Thank your legs for carrying you around. Thank your arms for being able to embrace someone.

9. Educate yourself (and those around you) about weight issues. What the research really says about obesity and what most people believe are two different things. We are not to blame for something science doesn’t fully understand.

10. Subscribe to magazines and purchase books that show larger women in a positive light. Surround yourself with positive images of larger women.

11. Don’t become preoccupied with thoughts of food and weight. Dieting can cause this. Plan what you’re going to eat and then forget it.

12. Put nothing on hold as a reward for weight loss. Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do and start doing them now. Being thin is not a prerequisite for living life.

13. Remember that society is not always right about things. Just because we have a cultural obsession with thinness doesn’t make it right. Like human beings, societies are imperfect and make mistakes.

14. Develop a personal style that announces to the world: “I like me!” How you feel about yourself is reflected in the way you carry yourself, your grooming, your clothes, your smile, the way you speak.

15. Dress comfortably. This may sound silly, but comfortable, properly fitting clothes will improve your whole mental outlook. Tight clothes will make you feel miserable and unhappy.

16. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. If they’re not, tell them that you’ve stopped measuring your self-worth on the basis of your weight and you hope they’ll follow suit. If they won’t, there are plenty of people who will.

17. List the positive aspects of being a larger person. Has being large made you more tolerant, kinder, stronger?

18. Do not buy into the notion that there is one ideal image or shape every woman needs to conform to. That is nonsense. People come in all colors, sizes, and shapes; that’s the beauty of the human race. We do not have “figure flaws.” We simply have diverse shapes.

19. Let go of constant comparison and competition. You don’t need to be or “do” better than anyone else to be a worthwhile person.

20. You do not deserve to be harassed publicly about your appearance or weight. Decide in advance how you want to handle such situations. And remember that insults are almost always born of ignorance.

21. Concentrate on developing a healthy lifestyle, not losing weight. Developing a healthy lifestyle is a positive activity, while losing weight usually is based on a negative self-image.

22. Look into your past for sources of low self-esteem. Think about messages you were given as a child and refute them. Once you understand how you were taught to have low self-esteem, it is easier to change.

23. Put weight in its proper perspective and focus on what’s really important in life. Do you want people to remember you for the shape of your body or the shape of your character and soul?

Reprinted with permission from Self-Esteem Comes in All Sizes, by Carol A. Johnson, p152-154. Available from Gurze Books (www.gurze.com). A certified therapist with a master’s degree in sociology, Johnson is the founder of Largely Positive, a support group for large people.