“Imagine we’re obsessed with the things we loved about ourselves.” ~ Unknown
I used to have a plaque with this quote in my waiting room. Unfortunately, it has been misplaced somehow over the years.
What I remember most from the plaque was how it turned the people who noticed it on or off. Did you mention the quote when you came to my office? Ignore it specifically? Let me know that self-love is what you want for yourself? Or express skepticism that they would never reach this point in their relationships with their bodies (if they had such a relationship at all)?
It was the latter group, made up mainly of women in their forties and fifties, that I preferred to challenge.
“What is your relationship with your body like?” or “When did you stop focusing on what you liked about your body?” I would ask.
The answers I heard were often things like “My body changed after my pregnancy” or “I hate to see pictures of me with wrinkles.”
As a woman who broke the half-century mark myself, I totally referred to it – things are not quite the same as in my twenties.
The focus on the perfect body naturally extends to gender. Many men I know joke or complain about their “male breasts”, and people who identify themselves as non-binary sometimes hate gender-specific body parts such as hips or breasts.
The world I know best is my own, that of a woman in the middle of life. Television, magazines and diet discussions constantly remind me of the young, smooth, thin ideal.
You’d think that with a global pandemic, that pressure would go away. Well, they haven’t. Who saw the Facebook meme titled “When You Meet Your Friends After Quarantine” where toddlers bare their adorable bellies that they fuck together? My snack: Bellies may be cute in toddlers, but not in me.
Or what about the one that shows a much bigger little Debbie of snack-cake fame now portrayed as Big Deborah? The message: chubby cheeks and pounds are extra Not attractive. Caution. And then there’s the dreaded quarantine fifteen and how to avoid it.
The message that I should hate my body is alive and well.
How do I start fighting these messages? The quote at the beginning reminds me to turn to the positive. IM working on it. I started asking myself difficult questions. What is positive about my body? What am I thankful for?
Though I found it helpful to think about these things, a gratitude journal and practices have triggered the most positive movement. The positive availablethat is, rather than past losses (like this flat teenage stomach) or fear of future “quarantine fifteen”.
Cultivate a body gratitude practice
I am thankful to my body in many ways. Journaling is one. Gratitude journals can be simple, e.g. B. a list of bullets, how grateful I am to my body (e.g. for health, mobility, endurance).
I can also answer questions that are more general: “How has my body been a friend over the years?”
As I ask these questions, I adjust to the sensations in my body. How do I feel in my body when I offer this gratitude? It is often a lightness in my chest or an abundance in my heart.
Keeping a diary of gratitude can be a challenge, so let me give you a few examples.
I am grateful to my body that it has the stamina to go for a walk every day.
I am grateful to my body for surviving a difficult pregnancy. Yes, it’s not the perfect body, but it gave me the gift of a talented, unique daughter.
I also like choosing a day pass from Louis Hay’s “Healthy Body Deck”. It changes my perspective when I read these acknowledgments of gratitude and thank parts of my body that I never thought of.
For example, a card says, “I love my feet. I walk safely on this planet and always move towards my good. “I’ve never thought of all the things my feet do for me.
Some of the cards are funny, such as thanking my spleen for their role, but they help me connect and laugh.
I also try to notice gratitude opportunities throughout my day. During a recent shopping spree, I spoke to a cashier who described her concerns about COVID-19. Her teenage son was struggling with some previous health issues and she was concerned that he might get sick. It reminded me of thanking my body for having a great immune system that kept my anxiety low and it was the basis for my nightly diary entry.
After all, bodies of gratitude practice can include rituals. This is ongoing work for me, but I offer it to others as an alternative. Love baths? Fill a tub with warm water and bubbles, light candles, and play music. Take the time to take a bath, give your body permission to relax and recharge, and thank you for spending another day protecting yourself and your family.
You – and your body – are doing a wonderful job of getting through this crisis. Appreciating yourself can help you stay healthy and use this time for growth and self-connection.
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