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  • Writer's pictureTreat Yourself Well

Negative Thinking

There are a whole range of negative thoughts which reinforce and maintain negative body image. Some of these include:

There are a whole range of negative thoughts which reinforce and maintain negative body image.

The Critic - This is like living with your worst enemy in your head. The critic is a sarcastic, harsh, derogatory narrative that makes nasty comments about you. For example, "I look disgusting in this outfit", "I can't believe how fat I am", "I'm never going to be able to lose weight because I'm just hopeless".

The critic makes you feel awful, because you believe it. This leads you to feel terrible, and then you can get stuck in a negative cycle. Because you feel terrible about yourself, you look for ways to feel better - you may eat something, which gives momentary pleasure or comfort, but minutes later the critic is back to comment on how much of a pig you are for eating. The critic tells you that you'll never be able to control your weight, you feel even worse, and so you decide to eat something. And so, it goes.

All or Nothing thinking - where it's 100% - or nothing at all. All or nothing thinking is thinking in absolute terms; everything is viewed in black and white categories, with no shades of grey in between. For example, "All of my girlfriends are gorgeous, and I look awful". "There's no point looking after my appearance, buying nice clothes or wearing make-up, because I'm fat". All or nothing thinking is a classic example of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater".

Selective Attention - this is a bias in thinking, where you pay attention to things that support your negative view of yourself (for example, you focus in on how you can't fit into those size 14 jeans), and "tune out", or discount, evidence that doesn't fit into the negative view (for example, you forget or discount that you have another pair of size 14 trousers that fit you just fine).

Discount the Positive - this is a good friend of the critics. If you get a compliment from someone, you discount it "they don't mean that, they're just saying it because they feel sorry for me".

Mind Reading - where somehow, you convince yourself that you know what other people are thinking. "Everyone thinks I look ridiculous in this outfit - they're all just thinking about how massive I look".

Negative predictions- people with a negative body image can tend to predict the future in negative ways. For example:

  • I have to hide my stomach, so no-one sees how fat I am

  • No-one will want to go out with me because I'm fat

  • I'll never be able to maintain any new kind of exercise regime


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