Ugly, fat, imperfect… Do these words ever come to mind when you look in the mirror at your body? The words we say to ourselves about our bodies have a powerful impact.

Words hold power

We are inundated with words — words about how we should look; what our bodies should be like; even what we should be doing to and for our bodies. Advertisements everywhere are filled with words and images that speak powerful messages to us every day. These messages are on television, the internet, in magazines, movies, on clothing, in the gym, on bus stops and billboards and even in the lyrics of popular music. Our culture is exposed to these powerful words, and we are deeply impacted by them whether we are aware of it or not.

“Daily the average American is exposed to “

[a] non-stop blitz of advertising messages,”” president of the marketing firm Yankelovich, Jay Walker-Smith said. “Everywhere we turn we’re saturated with advertising messages trying to get our attention.” Walker-Smith says, we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today.

All of these words influence how we see ourselves and our bodies; how we value ourselves and our bodies; and, what we expect of ourselves and our bodies.

Choose the words you elevate as truth

Literally, we are being transformed by these words and by the judgments and expectations they produce within us.

“I want my stomach to look like hers.”

“I don’t have a beautiful body like the women in the magazines; they have beautiful bodies.”

“Attractive men have abs; I need to get a six-pack to impress the ladies.”

And, even sadder is the impact these words have on pre-teen and teenage girls.

“If I were skinny, boys would like me.”

Words and images in ads plant seeds which grow into thoughts.

Thoughts are words inside our minds. They affect the condition of our hearts, our moods, our relationships (especially with ourselves and God), and they even affect our bodies. When we focus our thought-life on negative thoughts about our bodies, those words begin to impact us. They begin to govern our actions, and our own perception of our value, worth and self-care. They begin to influence how we view ourselves and how we invite others to treat us.

Our thought-life (our mind) can be a healthy relationship or a damaging one.

We can actually begin to have a relationship with our thoughts. We start this relationship in the same way we develop any other relationship—through the investment of time and energy thinking about and marinating on those negative thoughts. Before we know it, we find ourselves believing more in those words than in God’s words. We allow the relationship with negative thoughts to be more influential and more impactful than our relationship with God.

Our thought-life then begins affecting our actions. It affects our actions towards ourselves and towards others, even towards God. So, bottom line: Words hold power! We can’t avoid negative and damaging words — we live in a broken world. But, we can be intentional about which words we choose to agree with and to elevate in our minds as truth.

The power of choice

We get to choose when we agree that we don’t look like the models in the magazines and, therefore, are not as beautiful or valuable. We get to choose if we agree with the words that become thoughts in our minds. We choose how our self-image is built up or broken down from today forward. We can either agree with God’’s words about our bodies or the world’’s words about our bodies. Both options will transform our body. The choice is ours.

Words have power.

God’s word says:
Our value is far above rubies and pearls

If my body looks a certain way I am valuable and beautiful like rubies and pearls.

God’s word says:
Love and protect and carefully cherish ourselves, including our body.

I am worthy of love if I am beautiful, thin or ripped or I should cherish myself IF I and others approve the way I look or how my body is.

When you look in the mirror, what words come to your mind? What words are transforming your relationship with yourself and your body? Are they God’s words or the words of the popular culture?

As followers of Christ and believers in Christ we are called to live in this world but not to be of this world. Live in the modern culture yet be continually transformed by God, renewed in the mind, the body, the heart and the spirit by God, not by popular culture. Let’s find our value, worth, self-image and definition in the truth of God’s word rather than in the ever-changing words of culture.

Building a Positive Self-image

What steps can we take to build a self-image that is based on God’s word and not on the words or expectations of popular culture?

As followers, we must settle within our own minds and hearts that God is who He says He is and we are who He says we are.

1. Be intentional about your thought-life
Choose not to get into a relationship (spending time and attention) with negative thoughts about who you are and how you are made.

2. Meditate on God’’s word
With all the unintentional exposure to negative words, images, and expectations of your body, you need to purposefully sow God’s truth about ourselves into our mind and heart.

3. Game-Plan It!
Create a game plan to achieve goals in a balanced and loving way. Write down your game plan so you can create ‘to do’ items that will lead to achieving your goals. Take small steps daily and celebrate them!

4. Post a Note on it
I can’t express the power that three little words had on my life. I posted them on my refrigerator, and the daily exposure to them over time had a hugely positive effect on my body and how I care for it. The words are ‘Loved, valued, purposed.’ I still have them posted on my refrigerator to this day! In coaching and counseling others in their wellness, I have seen how very beneficial this idea is. I recommend posting sticky notes with powerful words in danger zones, for example, your bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, and your computer at home and at work.

5. Trust
Trust that God designed your body on purpose for a purpose. You are uniquely you. Trust that being the best you is what God wants. He doesn’t want you to be someone else. Trust that God’’s design is good, even in the moments when you may not be able to recognize it yourself. To help build your trust, check out the incredible story of this academy award winning actress’s journey with God to a positive self-image and self-acceptance