What lies do you tell yourself about your body?

March 17,2020

A few weeks ago, I got the worst food poisoning of my entire life…

… except for the last time that I got food poisoning, which was just two months ago, and was also the worst food poisoning of my entire life…

… except for the time before that, which was just two years ago, and was so bad it landed me in the hospital. (In the middle of vacation in a foreign country, nonetheless.)

“I can’t believe this”, I told myself, as I lay in bed last month. “Food poisoning AGAIN? This intense, AGAIN? Why is my body so WEAK?!”

As soon as I said it, I could feel my body contract beneath my own skin, like my soul was trying to curl up into the fetal position and hide in shame. I felt fragile, sickly, and vulnerable. 

Today I want to talk about the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies, because these stories are having a huge impact on our body confidence. 

We all have stories that we’ve created about our bodies. Things like:

“I’m always going to be in pain.”

“I just have a low sex drive.”

“No one will ever be attracted to me at this weight.”

“I’m not flexible.”

“I’m never going to be able to orgasm.”

“I’m always going to have terrible skin.”

“My metabolism is so slow.”

Here’s the major problem with these stories: we end up reinforcing them, and turning them into self-fulfilling prophecies. 

I’ll give you a totally different example… I have a thyroid condition, and I read in a book once that people with my condition struggle to maintain a healthy weight or put on muscle.

I turned that one line from a book into this story that my body would never be toned and muscular. 

A few years back, a bodybuilding friend encouraged me to work out with him. “Oh, I can’t gain muscle,” I said. “It’s this thing with my thyroid.”

“What have you been doing to try to build muscle?” he asked.

“Uhhh… well… nothing.” I responded. “Because I can’t.” 

I had created the story, and I turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t even try to build muscle because I was so convinced that I couldn’t. 

I know how frustrating it is to feel stuck in a story about your body, so today I’ve got your back with a 4-step process for transforming your stories into healthier ones. 

Step 1: Identify The Stories

First, we need to figure out what your stories are. 

What do you believe is true about your body?

Take a few minutes to write down whatever comes to mind.

Step 2: Identify The Sources

Once you’ve identified your stories, think about why you created that particular story in the first place. 

With my example of not being able to gain muscle, I can trace it back to that one specific book that I read. 

But maybe your story comes from being bullied as a kid, or from something your mom said, or simply from growing up in a body-shaming culture. 

Step 3: Identify The Impact

Next, it’s time to think about the impact your stories have had on your life. 

What have you done or not done because of your stories about your body?

I avoided working out for years because I thought it would be pointless, and I made cruel judgments of my body. 

And going back to my first example, I caused myself a lot of emotional pain by telling my body that it was weak and sickly. 

Maybe you’ve held yourself back from initiating intimacy with your partner, or buying clothes that fit you.

Think big here. Maybe you even held yourself back from applying for your dream job or going back to school.

This can be a really tough step because it forces you to be brutally honest. But I think it’s a necessary part of the process, so I encourage you to stick with it. 

Step 4: Create A New Story

Finally, I want you to think about a different story that you can have about your body.

For each story that you identified in Step 1, come up with an alternate story.

You don’t need to immediately believe the new story, but just come up with a different version.

For me, I decided that my body was a reflection of whatever I put into it. That didn’t mean that I instantly got toned or that I instantly stopped worrying about my thyroid condition.

I just opened myself up to the possibility that there could be another story about my body. 

So I took my bodybuilder friend up on his offer to train me, and I’ve now stuck with it for almost 5 years. 

And you know what? 

I HAVE MUSCLES!

Here’s a recent picture Xander took of me walking down the beach, not trying to flex or show off or anything. 

LOOK AT THOSE TRICEPS! 

“Can’t gain muscle”… yeah right!

If I’d held onto the story that I couldn’t develop muscles, there’s no way I would have ever developed triceps like that. No way I ever would have discovered that I LOVE weightlifting, and that it feeds my soul as much as it strengthens my body. 

So that’s why I want to encourage you to come up with new stories, even if they feel unbelievable or undoable right now.

What other stories could you tell yourself about your body?

Give this four-step process a shot!

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HI THERE!

I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!