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Lilo777's avatar

How do you gain confidence and get over insecurities without the help of a psychologist?

Asked by Lilo777 (109 points ) October 25th, 2012

I’ve struggled with body dysmorphic disorder for YEARS now and I’m tired of it. I have received professional help (from school counselors to psychologists) and it’s helped me overcome social anixety but the terrible body image is still there.
I find parts of my body to focus on and I critique them and criticize them until I’m left feeling like crap. I’ll put on a nice dress and I know deep down that I look good but then a part of me finds something, some defect, and it makes me absolutely miserable. To the point that I’m snappy and flat out rude to people who simply ask what’s wrong. I’ve been to so many plastic surgeons and sometimes I spend hours researching procedures that could help me. I know I sound crazy. I take two anti-depressants so my mood is pretty well controlled… but the self-loathing and constantly putting myself down is starting to drive me nuts. I’d say it definitely affects my daily life.
And even my relationship – I’m embarrassed to go anywhere with my boyfriend that involves meeting his friends. I hate when he introduces me to people because I wonder if they’re thinking how ugly I am, or if they think I’m a downgrade from his ex-girlfriends. Our sex life is pretty good, but I am not comfortable being naked at all and I can’t initiate ANYTHING because I’m constantly thinking he’s going to judge me – even though thinking logically about it I know he loves me. I just don’t know what to do.
I want to get over this disorder; I’m tired of living a life centered so much around my body image but I don’t know how to stop. I don’t really have the time nor money to see a psychologist again. If you have any tips or personal experience, please share. Help :(

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12 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Ever time you find a part of our body that you don’t like, stand in front of a mirror and say, 30 times, “I love you”. Look directly at the body part when you say it. Then say it thirty more times looking straight into your own eyes.

And do it looking into your own eyes every morning when you get dressed, and every night right before bed. Do that for sixty days, or until you love yourself.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Lilo777 I want you to try something. Go to the mall or a really busy store. Sit on a bench for an hour or so and people watch and write down how many people you see going by with perfect bodies. Then think about that for a bit. We are not perfect, but we are close enough. Don’t sweat perfection so much. I don’t want a perfect woman in bed with me, I just want a woman that I love.

partyrock's avatar

It takes time love, nothing is every easy, more so when you are the enemy you are fighting with.

I wish you nothing but the best of luck, remember you can overcome anything. You have immense power within you and you deserve the best in this.

Now, one can’t go one day, one week, one month, it is truly a journey. It might take a whole year, It might take 2 years. It is a journey. Always remember that negative thoughts are just thoughts and to not let them control you.

Surround yourself with things and people who love and support you. Love yourself. Do what it takes, do what makes you happy. Express yourself.

You are fighting yourself here. Learn to love yourself, you only have ONE body and ONE you for this entire LIFE. Cherish it, don’t destroy it.

Like I said it takes time, and is easier said than done.

You will only get better if you really want to.

marinelife's avatar

You might try working with your inner child. I have had good results with the book Self Parenting: The Complete Guide to Your Inner Conversations.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I’m so sorry that the psychologists did not work with you to overcome this problem. There are some excellent clinical techniques that really do help.

Doing it on your own is possible but then I suppose I could do major surgery on myself. but its not an approach that is recommended.

There may be some self-help books that you may be able to find that might be helpful. If I was familiar with such resources, I would certainly advise you on this. I truly hope you find a way to overcome this problem and the pain that seems to block or diminish the joyfulness in your life that you deserve.

If doing it on your own does not produce the results you desire, I hope you are able to reconsider the option of taking advantage of professional assistance. Remember that there are not credits for every day that goes by in which you feel miserable and where you are not making progress toward your goals. I urge you to do whatever it takes to live every day as fully as you can. You are perfect as you are and you deserve to be fully comfortable in your own skin. You deserve to be loved and respected. Please do not allow any obstacles to keep you from what you deserve and desire.

ninjacolin's avatar

I hope you find all the assistance you need! I really feel for your situation. I’ll share some thoughts and an exercise you could try. But you have to let me know what you think.

If you could try for the next hour, live in complete acceptance of the way things are rather than how you would like them to be. For starters: In one single try only, crunkle a piece a paper up, and throw it into the center of your room. Watch where it lands. Don’t move it. Don’t try again. Simply note whether it lands exactly in the center of the room or not. It probably isn’t perfectly in the center, right? Maybe close, but not quite center. Or maybe it rolled way off center. Or hell, maybe it slipped from your grasp and landed at your feet! Either way, leave it where it is. Accept its position.

This act of acceptance isn’t a matter of deciding that it is perfect. It isn’t a matter of redefining what the center of the room is either. It’s a matter of spending time, seconds, minutes, hours, observing the brutal truth of the matter that the paper really did land where it did on your first throw. There’s nothing more to it than simply being honest and noting the creation of your first attempt. Remember, no other attempts can possibly change the results of your first attempt. Your first attempt is what it truly is. It cannot be undone.

Have you ever taken a history of art course? In a course like that you come to realize that art from across the centuries has always been a window into the past to the moment where the artist was inspired and a reflection of his/her unique perspective at the time. Sometimes there are mudhuts, sometimes there are sky scrapers. There is no perfect world, there is simply what there is at the time and Artists capture their current perspective of what there factually was at the time.

Your throw of the ball of paper is an artist’s stroke. It represents your perspective in that moment. The unique result is the art you have created. It requires no modification since it is what it is: The results of your first attempt. As such it is perfect by definition.

If you’ve ever seen an artist grow from amateur to expert, you’ll notice that each painting along their career reflects how much they’ve learned. Even their least favorite piece as an expert can rival their favorite piece as an amateur. Why? Because abilities to communicate intentions grow across time. Perspectives change across time. The results of the amateur artist aren’t really better or worse than the results of the expert. They are simply outcomes based on different perspectives. The results simply reflect the present for what it truly is at that time and there really isn’t anything more to achieve in the world besides that.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, when you disrobe for your boyfriend, when you make a joke, when you give a hug, when you dress for the day, when you exist for a day.. everything you do is an artist’s stroke and the unique outcomes for each and every action is always a perfect Artwork in and of itself. Your results require no modification because they are already true.

Holy meandering thoughts batman! I’ll stop now and let this artwork be what it is. :)

flutherother's avatar

Try looking bad instead of looking good. Don’t wear a nice looking dress that makes you look great wear something poorly designed that looks pretty crap. If you have the courage then go out where you can be seen and just defy any one to think badly of you because of how you look.

hearkat's avatar

I have had self-esteem and body image issues my whole life, resulting from psychological and sexual abuse in my childhood. I never had the obsessive component that seems to be a large part of the problem for you. I have also struggled between my sense of logic and reason and my emotions. You know that no one is perfect, and you don’t judge others based solely on their appearance, yet you hold yourself to some impossible standards, even though you know it makes no sense.

One of the first things that came to mind when you said that you don’t have money for a psychologist was that Plastic Surgeons aren’t free! Stop spending your time, money, and energy on the superficial changes, and make the investment in the substantial change that you need in terms of your mental health.

But that gets to the heart of the issue… you have to consider yourself worthy of that investment. You know that “wherever you go, there you are,” so no costly makeup or plastic surgery will stop you from finding something negative about your appearance to hate. You know that although your boyfriend loves and accepts you as you are, your self-loathing will one day push him away—and part of you is OK with that, because you don’t feel like you deserve his love and affection, anyway.

To be able to move beyond such deep-rooted issues, one usually has to dig very deep through a lot of dirt and battle their own defense mechanisms in order to get to the true core issue that caused you to feel that all you have to offer to the world is your physical shell, and even that isn’t good enough. I don’t suggest doing it without the guidance and supervision of a trained professional.

If cost is truly an issue and not a scapegoat (again, I urge you to look at what you spend on health and beauty products and services – hair cuts and color, mani/pedis, facials, etc. – as well as plastic surgeons and clothing, shoes, bags, etc.), then go to NAMI.org to find help obtaining sliding-scale fee services. You can also look for support groups online and in your area.

Other things you can do to help change your perspective is to do volunteering. Helping others has multiple benefits, because not only do you help those less fortunate, but it gives you a sense of value in contributing for others’ benefit, but it also helps you see life and the world through someone else’s eyes. I think that for you to volunteer at a children’s hospital or a home for special-needs adults might give you a different understanding of the mind-body-spirit connection.

Something else that helps me handle being self-conscious (which used to be nearly paralyzing in social situations), is to remember that 99% of the people have things they can’t stand about themselves, and feel insecure about something… and those who seem so confident are often not. Most people are faking, or at least exaggerating, their confidence level. “Never let them see you sweat.” “Fake it ‘til you make it.” — I used to hate those ideas of being ‘fake’, but then I looked at those concepts as not pretending, but rather as practicing. I took the traits that I admired in others, and practiced behaving that way… yes, it felt unnatural at first, but knowing that it was a skill that I was developing to help me reach the goal of being more poised and socially confident reminded me that I was still being authentic. In time, those actions become more natural and a part of who I am. I am still learning and evolving, even in my late 40s.

I sense that you really want to move beyond these issues you have, and I hope that you will find the motivation and support system to help you work through it.

CWOTUS's avatar

Learn and live what is meant by the old saying:

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Internalize it. You already know in your rational and upbeat moments that you’re “good”. Good enough, anyway. Don’t let an impossible quest for perfection ruin that.

Shippy's avatar

Because I know how severe the disorder is, I also know that words here wont help. Psychologists go through a process of desensitization as one therapy. Whereby you would be expected to for e.g. go outside with no make up on, or without fussing on your hair too much. It would be understood upfront how difficult this is for you. So don’t cringe before you start.

The fact that you want to get over it, you will.

Find inspiring sites, of beautiful people of larger shapes, or older bodies. Steer away from media and how it tells us to look. Find your inspiration for being you.

Silence04's avatar

You obviosly haven’t found the right psychologist.

Seeing a psychologist is like entering a relationship, some don’t work out, but you will know when you found the right one.

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