Do you hate your body? Do you think you have to be a certain way to be able to love your body? Like to lose 5, 10, 20 lbs or kilos? Do you think it’s impossible to love your body as it is?
You’re not alone!
We are so bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ bodies (that are only perfect thanks to photoshop) – so bombarded with cultural messages that tell us we have to be a certain way in order to be acceptable, lovable or worthy, that we find it impossible to love our own bodies.
Because we don’t (and in fact cannot) measure up to that impossible standard.
Or because we’ve been told over and over by other people that we’re fat, undesirable or repulsive. But mostly it’s something we’ve told ourselves over and over.
The truth is, you can love your body at any size and shape.
So, want to know how to love your body? Here’s how.
You can’t force yourself to love anything. Love doesn’t work that way. I remember my mother telling me I should love my baby brother, because he was my brother… well, that failed and I continued to prick him with nappy pins and pour his medicine down his throat.
Step 1: Give up punishment
Love and force just don’t co-exist. So if you’re forcing yourself to diet, forcing yourself to do punishing amounts of exercise that you hate – it won’t help you learn how to love your body.
In short, give yourself permission to eat. And move your body in a way that brings you pleasure!
Step 2: Watch your mind
Listen to what you tell yourself about your body! When you hear harsh, critical thoughts, remind yourself ‘I’m choosing love,’ or ‘That was a judgemental thought.’
Then tell yourself something different – that is actually true (it doesn’t work to tell yourself things you don’t actually believe – it falls flat. You can learn more about that here). You could say things like
- I’m choosing love over hate
- I’m choosing to be kind to myself
- I’m learning to accept my body as it is
- This is the body I have. It gets me places. It allows me to experience life
- My body is actually an amazing thing: it responds to love!
Let me know – what things can you say to yourself about your body, that show kindness and respect towards it?
Step 3: Forgive your body
Do you feel betrayed by your body in some way? Perhaps you’re diabetic, have PCOS, celiac disease – or some other health condition. Perhaps you resent your body for storing fat the way it does; for the shape you are. Maybe you blame your body, for your compulsive eating.
Holding on to your negativity towards your body will not help you to love it! If you’re hating or resenting, you cannot be loving at the same time.
So make a choice to forgive your body.
In truth, it has done nothing wrong. If you’re in poor health – it’s your body communicating with you, that something needs attention.
If you have strong urges to binge – it’s your body, communicating with you that something needs attention.
Bring a sense of compassion and forgiveness to your body. Talk to it! Say ‘I forgive you.’
Step 4: What can you appreciate?
No matter what size you are, no matter what state your health is in, find something about your body you can appreciate.
What does it enable for you?
- Climb stairs?
- Smile at your pet/child/ friend?
- Talk – to people who matter to you, or just to get things done!
- Think – your creative thoughts, bright spark ideas, being able to do the work you do, problem solve, tell stories
- Feel the whole range in the human experience
- Touch – a velvety petal, someone’s arm, give a hug, snow…
- See – a sunset, the face of someone you care about, the mess in your kids’ bedroom
- Hear – children laughing, the rain, Beethoven
- Digest food so you can have another day on this earth
- Speak – your voice box allows communication – and singing!
Will you spend some time writing down all you appreciate about your body – that has nothing to do with your physical appearance? Let me know…
I suggest you appreciate your body for at least 2 things a day. Try to vary them. How many can you come up with?
Step 5: If you’re feeling courageous….
Stand in front of the mirror.
Just look, without judgement.
When I was learning to draw, I remember the teacher saying ‘just look at the shapes and draw them as you see them. Don’t think about what you’re seeing, don’t label what you’re seeing, just draw the shapes.’
So when you look in the mirror – just see, without labelling, without judging.
Look with beginner’s eyes. Imagine a child, newly seeing: seeing things for the first time. What would she see? Shapes. Fascinating shapes. Reflections of light.
If you notice your judgements coming in, tell yourself ‘that was a judgemental thought’ and allow it to pass by.
Step 6: Allow love to emerge
You can’t force love. So do the steps above, and let it go. Love will find its way to you, the less you judge, the more you forgive and appreciate.