Difficulties with self-image (Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Whether be a young man, or a more mature man, or somewhere in between, our self-image can cause us many difficulties in all aspects of our lives. Our self-image problems can be related to our physique, our personality, our mannerisms, our sexual orientation, our level of intelligence, and the list goes on.  Self-image problems can affect us at any time and through any stages of our lives.  The big difference to men, when in comparison to women is that a majority of women have been socialized and are mentally-equipped to discuss problems, thoughts and feelings with each other.  On the other-hand, men often find it difficult to communicate about things that may make them ‘look weak’, or ‘less of a man’.  This can result in destructive thoughts and feelings that can negatively affect the person in every area of their life.  For many men with problems with their self-image, whether it be our looks and body, our lack of success, achievements, acknowledgement, or our sexual performance, they go it alone, wearing it on their broad shoulders, so to speak and not sharing it with others.

Unfortunately a man in this situation has their way of thinking backwards. It depends how you view strength (which many men like to portray).  Strength can be interpreted as having muscle, endurance, etc., but strength is also; facing up to, and over-coming challenges, over-coming something that a person finds to be difficult.  Men place a lot of pressure on each other through their competitive natures, especially when it comes to ‘winning’ a mate.  It is an instinct that we all have, and goes back to primates.  Primates ‘groom’ their partners and their success depends on a number of factors such as; hierarchy, social connection, exchanging services (good producer of off-spring, good hunter, strong to protect), etc.  More importantly the success of finding a partner does not only depend on the individual and his chosen partner that he wants, it also is influenced by the audience. Relating this to the modern day male, if the male discusses things that could be defined as a weakness with others in his group or is known to get professional help, this may burden the perception of him and in turn his success with finding a partner.  Primates chose partners for their survival, such as protecting the home and producing a strong family.  Although many a potential partner in today’s society look for the same as their primate counterparts, visual attraction has moved to the forefront when choosing a mate.  This may be adequate in the short term but when the visual becomes less important, you are left with a person’s substance, or lack of.

It is human nature to appeal to those who we find to be attractive, but rather than be attracted to people for their individualism, we often try to be what society dictates as attractive at the time. We have been taught that finding someone appealing is based on the visual.  There is nothing wrong with this, as humans are naturally attracted to things that they find to be beautiful.  This ticks many boxes for us; we are proud to be seen with a visually attractive person, and it can makes us feel like we stand out by being the envy of others, it satisfies our curiosities, and achieves our challenges.  However, whether it be for sexual encounters or a relationship, it is the depth of a person that determines whether the unification is worthwhile, and a quality experience.

The depth of a person can change our visual appeal to either finding someone more attractive, or less attractive. When looking for a partner, we often choose based on looks/appearance and then explore a person’s personality and values.  When visual appeal exists, we can fall into a trap of over-looking some very important needs that will decipher between a suited and not suited partner.

Through media and peer pressure, we may have images of a minority of the population, who a majority find attractive, which can lead to a person using this visual as a comparison to themselves and feeling that they are not good enough. If you feel this way, you can guarantee that you will not only be comparing to the body beautiful, visually appealing people, you will be frequently making comparisons to others and feeling the pain of believing that you aren’t acceptable as you are.

Low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and low self-worth are all detrimental to our over-all health, well-being, and the way that we present to others. The term “positives attract positives and negatives attract negatives”, is very true.  The way that a person presents themselves with their non-verbal language can be the difference between being found to be attractive, or not being found attractive.  No matter how you try to disguise your views of yourself people are hard-wired to interpret them. You will find that a person who accepts themselves unconditionally, exhibits comfort in their individuality, and holds good values towards others, will be found sexually appealing, without the emphasis being on the looks or physique.

People who view themselves poorly, are in many instances ‘people pleasers’, meaning that they try to please everyone before pleasing themselves. These people are often beautiful people who genuinely care about others and are extremely vulnerable to the treatments given by others.  People who have been bullied or brought up in homes where abuse, abandonment, or neglect is present, unfortunately make-up a good proportion of people who think less of themselves and as a result they can experience eating disorders, body dysmorphia and other mental health conditions, as well as poor physical health.  They often have an inner voice that works against their own best interest.

Through my professional work I have discovered that many people who have a poor view, are desperate to find love, a partner. If not consciously, subconsciously the person believes that they will be more fulfilled.  All this often results in, is an unhappy and unsuccessful relationship, which in turn will exasperate their problems with self-identity.

How can Dave Wells help?

Supporting people to achieve acceptance of themselves, as well as their relationships with others often involves reflecting on the past to discover the experiences as a child that have led to the person’s thoughts of themselves. Some people may have experienced an event that they believe has made them less attractive, such as the diagnosis of a health condition, especially those that can be transmitted to others, or maybe its changes to their body due to an accident.  Regardless, Dave Wells can support you to move past the debilitating self-messaging that holds you beck from being the complete person that you can achieve, through integrative and eclectic therapies that combines, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with other therapeutic models and techniques (See Counselling page).

Changing negative thought processes can be a difficult task, and there is no magic wand that will make them go away or change overnight. It takes effort from the sufferer and guidance from a professional, but it can be achieved.  Dave Wells is an empathetic person who takes pride on developing a relationship that is built on trust and respect with his clients, which is essential to make the necessary changes.  Dave Wells is very practical in his approach and can empathize with the difficulties and the barriers to change, but by working in partnership to achieve your goals can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience