Treating the Body Kindly
How do you treat your body? Do you treat it in a loving way, or do you see it as something you take for granted? Do you have a loving relationship with it, or do you put it down, get frustrated with it, or ignore it? Sometimes we have experiences in life that separate us from our own bodies, and it’s hard to get back into our bodies and fully inhabit them. Other times, we compare ourselves unfavorably to people that we see in magazine and on television. All these things that we do to our bodies and that are done to us affect our own relationship with our bodies. We can’t necessarily help what is done to our bodies, especially as children, but we can start to change the way we physically and emotionally interact with our own bodies. I’d like to make some suggestions to be kind and loving to ourselves.
First, we can change the way we look at ourselves in the mirror. Instead of picking apart everything that we don’t like and focusing on that, we can instead look for things that we at least find neutral, if not pleasing. Maybe you don’t like one part of your body, but you really like your hair or your eyes. Spend some time looking at the mere inches focusing on those parts that make you feel neutral to pleasant. Try to love what’s already there and if it’s hard, keep at it. You only get one body, so you might as well try to enjoy being in that body is much as possible. Notice the chatter in your mind when you do this. If you’re picking yourself apart and criticizing yourself, try to set that aside for the time being. You can always go back to it later, but for now this is not necessary and is actually counterproductive. Just like that time in front of the mirror become a loving time.
Second, express some gratitude towards each part of your body for what it does. This can be hard, especially if you have a chronic illness or pain that doesn’t seem to remit for very long. However, it’s essential to also acknowledge the parts of you that work in the parts of you that are helpful. You might start with your feet and thank them for holding you up or from moving you from point A to point B. If you’re in a wheelchair and you don’t use your feet, thank them for being there and for completing your legs. You can find at least one thing to be thankful for each part of your body, even those parts that have pain or disability. They’re all part of you and they’re all essential to who you are. Thank you mine and your brain, your torso, etc. Notice what comes up as you do this; do you encounter resistance? If so, allow that persistent is to be there to keep going anyway. In time, if you keep doing this resistance will quiet down and shrink.
Third, make a practice of writing down what you say out loud and to yourself about your body. If it helps, carry a notebook around where you can write down what you say. Chances are some of it will not be kind. When you notice yourself complaining about your body, salting it, comparing it to others, or in any way talking badly about it, imagine that you’re talking about someone you deeply and tenderly love. What with that person feel or think if they heard you saying such things about them? Would they still be your friend, lover, etc.? Would it hurt them deeply? But they still want to even know you? Then consider that you are saying that to yourself and that up until now, you are largely unconscious of the way you are talking to yourself. Hopefully, in time it will pain you considerably to hear yourself talk about you that way. It will be so uncomfortable that it will gradually fall away and be replaced with something more neutral or even something loving.
These are just some ways to start a different dialogue and relationship with your body. If you have other ideas about changing your relationship with your body, I would love to hear from you. I’m always interested in learning something new. So please do shoot me an email or if you see me in person, let me know how you make peace and friendship with your body.