Written by Amanda, a Fattitude Intern
When I first reached for “body love,” I felt like a group of teenage boys were gagging in their scorn and amusement behind me.
“Body love” is political and bold and loaded.
Everyone deserves to navigate the world confident in their body’s inherent dignity and worthiness; yet, self-love felt yanked from my grasp. Eventually, I recognized that I had actively interfered with its development.
Love has its roots in trust, understanding and acceptance. When we hurt ourselves with our thoughts and actions, we uproot our confidence in ourselves. Trying to cultivate body love without checking your self-destructive habits is like shearing off the leaves of a plant and expecting it to bear fruit. For love to thrive, trust and acceptance must be established: You must allow yourself to HEAL.
Self-care is the first step towards self-love.
With the aid of this realization, I am happier in my body than ever. I cannot state that we’re head-over-heels in love, but we’re definitely BFFs. I feel WHOLE for the first time since I can remember.
How do you stop picking at your scabs? Here’s a list of some of the strategies that I have employed, in hopes my experiences can help jumpstart your progress.
Ever heard that rhyme: “First comes love, THEN comes marriage…”? In the case of our bodies, it’s the other way around. We cannot divorce our bodies; but we didn’t get to pick them out, either. Our lifelong connection was pre-ordained without our say. For love to grow, we must accept this. We must accept our bodies. Acceptance does not mean assigning it only positive attributes, necessarily. It can mean remaining neutral. Try suspending all “good” and “bad” categories of judgment.
In my case, I found it a very helpful tool to stop labeling myself ‘X’ when I passed in front of a mirror. I replaced ‘X’ (negative word) with “normal.” An ‘X’ person has no chance in living a fabulous life; “normal” people come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and get to influence their own destinies.
Do you attack yourself with hurtful thoughts? Identify your habitual ones and cut out the negativity. You don’t have to tell yourself you’re “gorgeous” if that doesn’t feel true – just stop saying that you’re unworthy, ugly, etc.
Steer Clear of Triggers
Years ago, I picked up a Geneen Roth book from the library. It introduced me to an idea that has buoyed my confidence in myself ever since: If you have a compulsive habit, you probably perform these rituals for a reason.
Even if you don’t understand the service these habits offer you right now, you probably have some idea of what sends you into mental spirals.
The worse you deal with triggers, the easier it is to identify them. Keep track of your thoughts and emotions, rating them from 0-5, with 5 being blubbering, enraged, ecstatic, etc., every day for a week or two. If you record your highs and lows – and the circumstances and thoughts surrounding them – honestly and with consistency for even a short period, you will have an objective guide to what makes you truly happy and the little things that can ruin your morning.
You might discover that your fitspo habit leads to late-night binges, or that your girlfriend supports you more than you ever appreciated. It’s info worth knowing. On the other hand, you might also realize – as I most certainly did – that body issues and its friend dieting have a lot to do with avoidance of the things in life that you’re worst at coping with.
If you have resolved to 1) stop bullying yourself and 2) stop drinking the poison that turns your mind against you, you may want to start thinking about 3) taking a good medicine to aid the healing process.
A good medicine will have the opposite reaction of a trigger: it will reinforce good habits, ground your thoughts, and encourage positive feelings. You might try:
- Refreshing company. People who have successfully reached the crest of the hill that you’re climbing, and that make you feel that you can, too.
- Good reads. After you burn off the delusional beliefs about yourself, these resources sew and nourish the seeds of your new and improved belief system. Peruse our #Fattitude faves here.
- Patient practice. The more you treat yourself with gentle care, mentally and physically, the faster you will heal. Classes, coaching, retreats, conventions, and therapy can help. Also, REMEMBER: a hard fall into old habits is a GREAT opportunity to practice showing yourself tender concern rather than beating yourself down like you used to.
I certainly hope these tips launch you closer to full-blown #bodylove! Let me know what you think in the comments.
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude intern – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.