ating your body can become a dirty secret. Thoughts about your body can suck you in, like a whirlpool,
and can literally take you out of enjoying anything in life. You become so deeply entrenched in thinking negatively about your body that you don’t even notice the joys of life, big and small.
I know, because I’ve been there, and have walked many of my clients out of this whirlpool of pain. Pain that has distracted them form their children, passions, work, play, and focused their attention on one thing alone: their bodies.
Putting aside the fact that body hatred is a culturally encouraged thing (I totally acknowledge that there are so many freaking forces at play against us here), I wanted to offer my practical tips on walking away from it.
Because at the end of the day, when we change our relationship with our bodies, we take back our power. We can be more creative, open, and joyful. And even though there is so much stacked against us, we do have the power to choose love over loathing.
So, here is the roadmap. And I warn you: this may be unconventional. It may include some new ideas that you’ve never considered before. But stick with me here, this works!
1. Squash the dirty secret. Talk it all out, or write it out. Secrets eat us up from the inside, so allowing all of these thoughts to swim around in your mind is killing you. You can talk it out with a coach or therapist, a friend or write it all out on a piece of paper. Regardless, I want you to be insanely honest. Close your eyes, and let those thoughts speak directly. Here is an example: “I hate my stomach, why is it so fat? Why does all the fat concentrate there? Why do my arms look like this? I literally want to throw up when I look in the mirror”. Truly, let all those thoughts get out of your mind, and experience the freedom in just letting it out!
2. Practice mindfulness with your thoughts, meaning being an observer of your thoughts. Try to just notice your thoughts. If you write them down, look at that piece of paper and notice the distance between your physical body and that paper. Start to notice that you ≠ your thoughts. You are separate entities.
3. Start to notice when the thoughts come up again. When they do, I want you to say (in your mind or out loud): “I am judging my body right now”, or “I do not like my body right now”, or whatever resonates with you. This is the acceptance stage: accepting what is instead of trying to judge yourself out of it. You see, when you judge or resist the resistance you already have (aka the body loathing), you get stuck in it even more. Have you ever noticed that?
So, I’m not asking you to say things like “I love my body”, because at this point, you just don’t, and that’s ok! Speak the truth, but accept it. Accept that this is how you feel right now, and it will allow you to increase that distance between your thoughts and yourself even more.
4. At this point, you may be thinking: “how is accepting that I do not like my body going to make me like my body? Isn’t it going to make me hate it even more?” and if you’re thinking that, I want you to close your eyes, get really mindful and very, very slow, ask yourself: “can I know without a shadow of a doubt that allowing myself to accept my hatred towards my body going to make me gain more weight (or is it going to make me hate my body even more)”?
5. Close your eyes, and picture yourself in a whirlpool. See yourself fighting to swim out with all your might. What is happening?
Now, see yourself letting go. Accepting. Be in that whirlpool and allow it to do whatever it does to you. What happens now? Are you stuck, or are you slowly, finally drifting to the shore?
6. Ask yourself: what is my relationship with my body teaching me? What is the deeper gift here for me?
We are asking this question so that you can give your ego something to feed on, and to realize that your “negative” relationship with your body is just a lesson for something greater, and there is actually a gift in here for you. Don’t take it from me – this is just my belief. Ask this question for yourself.
What kinds of gifts am I talking about? Here are some examples I’ve seen:
- Learning to not be a people pleaser and eat the food that makes me feel good, not the food that everyone expects me to eat
- Learning the practice to self-acceptance, no matter what
- Listening to my intuition, and cultivating self-connection
- Discovering my boundaries
- Knowing that I am worthy, beyond any belief, physical appearance, literally anything: worthy exactly as I am
- Stepping into my power and greatness
7. There may be (and often are) much deeper elements at play that are rooted in childhood. For these, I love to guide my clients through inner child work and breathwork, so that they can remind the child in them who shows up often with fear and self-doubt, that she is always safe and secure, and so that they can move through any unconscious blocks holding them back.
Remember that reaching the point of always loving your body and believing it is perfect is not the goal here. The goal is to learn to change your relationship with these thoughts. To engage with them in a new way, so that next time they come up, you don’t feel like a victim to them. You feel empowered and know how to move through them with grace, and much faster.
I would love to hear more about your journeys with your body, and to support you as a transformational coach. Send me a message on Instagram @soulintheraw and let’s connect!