I guess talking about body dysmorphia
Hey, so as a part of a new routine I’ve been doing, I try to journal every day – along with CBT. I think I might modify this routine as I think excessively doing CBT without a reason isn’t that helpful, so I’d rather save it for the bigger thoughts I actively struggle with rather than fabricating issues. That being said, I did want to talk a bit about body dysmorphia.
Thankfully mine is very mild, as it used to be very bad – mostly in part due to my childhood of parents pointing out flaws in my appearance due to a skin condition, and mentioning how people would think I’m diseased or sickly and not want to touch me or look at me. That’s a whole bag of worms, that I realized only in hindsight was incredibly damaging. Maybe the problems started then?
I know I would try to focus on certain aspects of my body that were desirable, and I would do pretty unhealthy things to try to build up confidence and self-esteem in my body which probably isn’t the best idea to publicly post here where people I know can read this, but either way I struggled with body image a solid amount. Eventually, things did get better – mostly in part due to therapy but also because I was mostly just avoiding the issue.
A few months ago I decided to try to work on my physical appearance, from stuff like skin care, working on my body, fixing my diet, hair styling, and my sense of style with clothes. I’ve overall been happy with the changes, but with that comes its problems. Specifically with the gym, I’ve had a drastic difference with my body – where I’ve had many people comment and compliment me on it, even with random strangers mentioning it.
The weird part for me has been how in my mind I haven’t changed at all. I look at myself in the mirror, and don’t get me wrong – I do like what I see to some extent. But I also look at older pictures of me and I see the same me. And in those pictures, I don’t feel as desirable. I still see the kid who was shamed for showing skin or told was a 2/10 by close friends. I see the kid who was told was untouchable by their best friend, who was also their crush coincidentally. Being compared for almost my entire life honestly did leave its scars.
I was working out today at the gym and took a picture to send to a girl who liked seeing my body. At the same time, I saw a larger Indian guy behind me who had great arms. I still see the scars of comparison egging me to tell myself that if someone is better than me, I have nothing worth being happy about. I try to give myself compassion and recognize how these thoughts aren’t mine, but rather that of my upbringing. Still sucks. Guess it’s time for CBT.
Situation: Working out at the gym, and seeing people with different body types and bigger muscles than me.
Thoughts: These people are just more desirable than me, and I won’t be able to catch up to them. Even if I can catch up to them, I should be ashamed of my body until I get to that point, as currently it is pathetic.
Feelings: I feel ashamed, small, insecure, and ultimately unattractive. I feel pretty dejected and I feel like giving up on trying to work on my body, as there are people so much better than me. I feel unhappy.
Behavior: I will hide the body I’ve worked on from people, and also become way more insecure about it. I may also stop working out at the gym, as it becomes a sad experience for me – or potentially turn to damaging PEDs to try to get a better physique.
Now for a better approach
Thoughts: Everyone has their strengths, and there are also tradeoffs. That being said, comparison is the thief of joy. If my body looks some way, seeing another body doesn’t change that at all. There also is an aspect of survivorship bias here, where a lot of the people showing muscle at the gym are people who have great muscles already, and consistently work for them. I only recently started, and I still have ways to go. There are several people who like my body, including me! I can be happy with my body while still working for a better one.
Feelings: In a weird way, I feel proud of myself. I think it’s both pride due to fighting against something I’ve known my entire life, but also pride for the body I’ve built by working hard for almost half a year now. I feel genuine happiness for people with other body types, while also feeling secure in my own journey. I feel attractive.
Behavior: I will keep going to the gym, and also be proud of the work I’ve done and the changes I’ve gotten as a reward. I stay committed to the gym as it is something that does wonders for my mental health, along with other things. I love my body, and I’m proud of the work I’ve done. I feel happy.
Good fuckin yard, love you Karyios.