This is an extract of Chapter Two of From Princess to Queen: Heartbreaks, Heartgasms, and Everything In-Between – the third book of Relationship Counselor and Clinical Sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee of Eros Coaching published in 2017.
Body image does not just refer to aspects of our physical appearance, attractiveness, and beauty. It also has to do with the mental picture you have of your own body, and as your thoughts, feelings, judgments, sensations, awareness and behaviour relate to that image.
Our relationship with our bodies is ever changing – sensitive to changes in mood, environment, and physical experiences – and not usually based on facts. What we perceive of ourselves in the mirror is learned. We view our own physical attractiveness based on what is expected culturally, including from the media, our family, and our peers.
Your relationship with your body does influence your behaviour, self-esteem, and psyche. When we feel bad about our body, the satisfaction level with our own life overall decreases. This may cause myriad difficulties, in our sexuality, our career, and our relationships.
How do you shift towards a more healthy and positive view of self?
- Go deeper ― Ask yourself where is this negative body image I am experiencing coming from? Are you simply influenced by all the negative messages of a woman’s body from the media? Could you be caught in an ever-relentless pursuit of ever improving yourself and will never be happy with your body? Are you projecting what others are thinking about you?
- Recognize what this is really about ― Be honest, ask your trusted friends and loved ones questions about what they think, and feel about their body image.
- Do what you can with what you have ― If you are not happy with your body or a part of your body and can do something (within means and limits) and without hurting yourself, could you do it? What might be in the way of you doing something? Do you need support e.g. going for a jog while your child is being taken care of by your husband/ neighbor/ friend/ relative?
- Acceptance ― Having explored or done what you can, can you live with it (the body part or parts concerned)? Can you transcend just living with “it” and develop a compassionate relationship with “it”? How about loving “it”? Some ways you can learn to love every single part of your body includes being grateful that you have a body that supports you well, that functions, and allows you to experience life and all its facets.
- Deepen your relationship with your body ― Use affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements we make in the present tense but we do not need to believe in them (at least not right away). Examples include: “I love and accept every part of my body”, “I am grateful for how my body is strong. She supports and allows me to do all the amazing, wonderful things I want to and set out to accomplish,” “I love, honor and respect every single part of my body.”
- Let go of the rest ― Having done what you can (such as exercise), worked through what you can (affirmations to move to self-acceptance, love, and compassion), it is time to let go of what you cannot control. Releasing statements begin with “I release”. Examples include, “I release the need to be so hard on myself for not having the perfect body,” “I release my disappointment, guilt, shame, embarrassment for not being good enough.” You can wrap up each releasing session with a positive statement such as, “I am doing what I can with what I have. I love and accept myself the way I am. I am a work in progress. I am better and better each day naturally and effortlessly. I allow life to heal, protect and flow through me.”
A negative body image is a serious problem and has damaging effects on one’s self-esteem. When you can smile back at your reflection in the mirror, you are well on your way to self-love and respect. Love and enjoy the you inside.
Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.
She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and completed her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in 2017. In practice for eight years, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.
Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network. She has published three books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, Orgasmic Yoga and From Princess to Queen.
Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.