The human body is the best picture of the human soul.
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
Some of the most common lies people tell about their bodies are:
I’m too fat, big, skinny, small, tall, etc.
My (name your body part) is too (negative description).
I can’t control my body.
My body has a mind of its own.
I could go and on with one destructive thought after another.
The most important question is, are any of these judgments really true?
Is your body really that bad?
What did it ever do to deserve such negativity?
It could be that your body gets blamed for a lot of feelings or problems that it’s not responsible for causing.
Maybe it’s more accurate to say that your body is the vessel that holds your fears, disappointments, traumas, wounds, etc.?
It might be if you find yourself…
…focusing on picking apart one part of your body over and over.
…your mindset is clouded by negative body thoughts.
…you spend your free time searching for ways to change without taking up the challenge.
…you believe that you need to find the magic diet, exercise, vitamin, etc. and that will make it all better.
…you believe one day it will all come together and you’ll have an epiphany and it will be all better.
If your body is the vessel that holds negative stuff it could be that in transforming your relationship with your body, you, in fact, transform your life.
Take a moment and consider all of the helpful things your body does in one day, one hour, one minute.
Breathing, thinking, moving about, and all of the other basics that keep us going in life. Most of us have the great fortune of enjoying these benefits without much planning. We don’t even think about it, it just happens.
And yet when you’re stuck in a negative relationship with your body, even if it doesn’t take up all of your time, it drags you down.
These judgments keep you from achieving what you want in life.
How many times have you compared yourself to your mentor, idol, some imaginary standard?
How many thoughts follow, usually punishing, at best negative, that lead to feeling like you don’t measure up, so you must wait until some unknown time in the future. You push a big pause button on your dreams.
Let’s release the pause button and step into your life!
Define your body’s value.
Sometimes it’ll surprise you when you think of the first thought that pops into your mind when considering the value of your body.
If you’ve experienced trauma or abuse, the first thought might be about surviving the needs of someone else.
If you’ve experienced a medical or health condition that has changed your body you might have an experience of betrayal or abandonment. If you’ve been a person living life in the western world, you might have the experience of measuring value based on attractiveness and your ability to get more or less out of life because of it.
Now, go to the thought underneath, what’s the next thought? Keep going until you run out of self-loathing. Do you get a different response? Can you imagine a relationship built on trust, kindness and compassion?
Just imagine for a moment how empowering it could be.
This doesn’t have to be an endpoint, in fact, it can be a beautiful beginning.
1. Be honest with yourself and build on a foundation of kindness and love.
Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives. — Louise L. Hay
Honesty really is the best policy, especially with yourself, you can’t’ fool yourself.
Kindness and love aren’t about making yourself feel good. Kindness and love combined with honesty help you gain clarity to see yourself as you are today.
It doesn’t mean you’ll be the same tomorrow. Maybe you will and maybe you won’t.
What is certain is that honesty doesn’t have a chance at being transformative. When you’re dishonest, you cheat yourself out of the opportunity for something different.
2. Recognize when self-criticism is at its worst and figure out what you need most in that situation.
The beauty myth is always actually prescribing behaviour and not appearance.
― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth
Self-criticism is like a street light flashing yellow. Use it as a caution and be more aware of your surroundings.
Are there beliefs or feelings that need attention? Is there something missing and you aren’t sure how to get it?
Use this time to dig a little deeper to discover what you need to feel more connected with yourself. To shift your relationship with your body is to shift your relationship with yourself and change your life.
3. Live your life from a values standpoint.
When you live your life from a deficits mentality, “I can’t do x until I lose x pounds.” You are living in a very lonely place.
Hopefully your values, even if you’re not doing it now, are more in line with following the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This also applies to your relationship with yourself. Treat yourself as you treat others, with kindness, respect, compassion, etc.
What would your life look like if you followed your own belief system about the way you would like the world to work?
4. Address the real barriers to change in your life.
The real barriers to change in your life are the limits you set for yourself. Stopping yourself from taking action, doing what you need to do to make the things you want to happen.
Waiting for the perfect time is not going to happen.
Putting yourself in situations where opportunities present themselves is an entirely different situation. It means going to the networking event, attending the party, sitting in meditation, going for a walk in nature etc., Any of these situations and many more are the opportunities you need to transform your relationship with yourself.
5. Make the decision to live with greater acceptance of your humanness.
Do you allow yourself to make mistakes? Is it okay for others to make mistakes?
We all fall short of goals at times. Sometimes you might think you’re just about ready to achieve a goal and life says, nope you need to struggle a little more. As trite as it may sound, if you see the struggle as a learning opportunity, you will be more open to the possibilities that await.
We can’t predict when good things will come or when troubles will come to visit.
What we can do is increase our consciousness about how we respond. To respond consciously means that we are actively engaged with the process of life, when it’s filled with joy and when it’s filled with sorrow and everything in between.
6. Leave negative judgments out of your process of change.
To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.
― Simone de Beauvoir
The decision to change might be the only direction to go.
Often people only change when their back is up against the wall and avoiding transformation is impossible.
Allow yourself to trust that your relationship with your body, with your mind, with your heart is moving. Being present, giving yourself time to clear out the negative thoughts and feelings as much as you can. It gets easier with practice. You’ll find that judgments will lift. As they do, choice becomes possible and with it the confidence you need to see yourself with kindness, compassion and love.
When you end the self-deception, you set in motion so much more than feeling good about your body. You begin to fill your mind, body and heart with the nurturing you need to move forward with your life.
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Originally published at medium.com