As a body image and emotional eating therapist and coach, there isn’t a client of mine who doesn’t want, in some way, shape or form, to better their relationship with their body. Women often struggle with the thought of body love, however. It seems impossibly hard to conceive of loving something that they have been in conflict with for so many years.
The reasons are varied, from “I hate the way I look,” to “I can’t love my fat, my cellulite, my stretch marks, etc…” Perhaps they are dealing with chronic pain, or injuries that prevent them from feeling all warm and fuzzy about their body. Loving a body they have deemed as flawed seems foreign, and knowing where to start or how to go about changing from self-loathing to self-love often leaves people feeling lost.
Because of that, I wanted to create an entryway to the process, 2 foundational ways (mindset shifts) to begin changing the way you think about "body love."
It is easy to get fixated on the physical nature of the body, and when thinking about loving the body, it can feel as though you have to focus on the way your body looks or how it functions. While it is true that learning to love the aesthetic and physical nature of our bodies is an important part of the process, it doesn’t have to be where we start.
There are reasons to love your body that have little to do with how it looks or operates. These reasons go beyond the personal and physical and speak directly to your sense of "right" and "wrong." They resonate deep in your soul, and beg the question, “How do I want to live, and who do I want to be in this world?”
Reason #1 – You Don’t Want To Be Abusive
Yes, you read that right. If you do not love and respect your body it is likely you are being abusive.
You know that person in the grocery store who is screaming terrible things at their children? Or the story you heard about the father who would tell his daughter she was fat? Somewhere out there, you have your own version of a person who is cruel and abusive, and I imagine the thought of being anything like that person makes you recoil.
Well, take a deep breath, and think about your self-talk. What do you think, believe, and in turn tell yourself about your body?
Every time you demean yourself, downplay a compliment, or tell yourself horrible things as you look in the mirror, you are being abusive.
Every time you refuse yourself food, or miss out on a part of life you should be enjoying because you deem your body unworthy as it is, you are being abusive.
If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to think about speaking to a little child of maybe seven or eight. Tell her what you tell yourself when you look in the mirror. Tell her what is wrong with her body, and how imperfect it is. Tell her she needs to lose weight or that she doesn’t deserve things because of the way her body looks. Tell her she isn’t good enough.
It’s hard to even think about doing, right? That’s because it’s abusive.
When we are cruel and judgmental in our thoughts and actions, we are abusing ourselves. Every time we externally or internally describe ourselves in a way that would be considered hurtful, we are being our own abuser.
Most of you reading this would go to the moon and back to prevent hurting someone. The thought of being described as mean or abusive no doubt goes against every aspect of your personality.
So, today, I want to encourage you to think about the person you want to be. Commit to stop the negative self-talk, if for no other reason than you refuse to be your own abuser.
Reason #2 – The World Needs More Love
The world is hurting on a personal and collective level. Every day you see evidence that speaks to this, and I believe it affects us all deeply.
All of us want to be happier, and more content, and we stand a better chance of that if those around us are happy and content as well. I’m not getting on a soapbox here, but rather just looking at this from a pretty common sense level.
So what does loving and respecting our bodies have to do with world peace?
One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi, when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
What I believe this means is that we must start with ourselves. Every thought you think, every action you make, adds to the collective whole. Our world is made up of a collection of individuals, and if everyone began taking responsibility for their thoughts, and their words, rapid change would follow.
Ask yourself…with regards to the thoughts and beliefs about your body, are you adding to the pain, or are you helping to heal?
The world needs examples and role models of people who choose love over hate and acceptance over judgment. Our daughters need a world where women choose to see themselves as beautiful, powerful beings, instead of hating themselves into the shadows of despair.
This world needs love, and nurturing, and it needs you. When you love and value yourself, you are a powerful agent of change.
So, if ending the self-hate and negative self-talk seems difficult, think outside the box. This issue is about so much more than whether you feel better in a size 6 than you do in a size 10. You can have body preferences, but how you treat yourself regardless of condition is what body love is all about.
Whether or not you love and respect yourself is about aligning with your character and your soul.
Decide who you want to be and what you want to put out into the world, and then start with yourself.
Commit today to love and respect your body. Stop the abuse, and share the love.