2. You’re triggered into fight/flight/freeze/fawn.
Due to your unique social conditioning and life experiences, the changes your body has gone through (weight gain, shape change, etc) are triggering an internal alarm system, putting you in survival mode. You’re in a neurologically dysregulated state. For me, this state usually feels like a panicked internal monologue of “DANGER, DANGER, DANGER!!!!!!” It’s very hard to feel comfortable when your survival alarm bells are ringing, and something inside you is screaming that you are not safe.
Recognize that your survival alarm bells are ringing, and that the discomfort you’re feeling is your biology just trying to protect you. Then find ways to calm down and regulate your nervous system, to return to a feeling of safety and groundedness. This can be done with another person who helps regulate you via touch (hugs, cuddles, sex) or emotional support (listening, acknowledging, validating, therapy), or by yourself using movement (challenging balance and fine motor skills, burning off excess energy) or other tactics (meditation, flow state activities, journaling, resting, napping, masturbating, etc).
Note: IMO, everyone should build up a diverse set of skills and tools for re-regulating your nervous system when your alarm bells get triggered, especially if you struggle with body image issues. This takes time, education, patience, and practice, but it’s sooo worth it so that you know exactly how to handle it to “come back to yourself” when you get triggered!
3. You don’t recognize yourself.
You’re feeling the discomfort of newness and foreignness in your own body. It can be weird and uncomfortable to get used to anything new, whether that something is new shoes, a new apartment, or a new town, but it’s especially confusing and alarming when it’s your own body. It’s normal to experience discomfort when your body changes, and you haven’t had the time to get to know and connect with your new body.
Get to know your new body. Spend time gazing at it, tuning into the sensations of living in it, touching it, feeling it, and exploring it from a place of kindness and curiosity (instead of judgement). Seek to know and understand this new body you live in!
4. You’re fighting against negative somatic coding.
Due to the way we’re wired, we learn to associate specific physical sensations with specific meanings, a sort of shortcut key for living life that gets coded deep in our unconscious in its most basic form: safe/unsafe or good/bad.As an example, if you cut bangs as a kid and everyone made fun of you for it because it looked terrible, you would likely have coded the physical sensation of having bangs on your forehead as bad, and feel self-conscious and uncomfortable whenever you feel hair falling across your face.
However, if you cut bangs as a kid and everyone went gaga for how cute you were, you would likely have coded the physical sensation of having bangs on your forehead as good, and feel confident and pretty whenever you feel hair fall across your face. The same is true of different physical sensations associated with body shape and size. For example, you might have learned that the feeling of too-tight clothing is Very Bad, and now whenever you feel your pants a bit tight you feel shame and guilt. Or maybe you learned that the feeling of a flat stomach in the morning is Very Good, and now whenever you wake up with flat abs, you feel successful, proud, confident, and worthy.