I remember being a little girl standing on a stool in my mom’s bathroom and looking at my own reflection in the mirror. All I could see were ENORMOUS shoulders, so I asked my mom in my sweet little girl voice if I could get parts of them “hacked off” when I got older. Silly as it sounds, I was serious. I thought I needed them to be smaller.
This is the first memory I have of disliking my body and expressing the need to find some way to solve its “unpretty” parts. Clearly I wasn’t shying away from violent thoughts to “fix my body.” As I got older my body complaints and insecurities only grew both in number and urgency. It seemed like I had a special eye that would pick out everything that was possibly wrong and ignored everything that was right.
What’s your first memory of disliking your body? How old were you? Which part of your body did you attack and wanted to fix?
This is an important topic, because I know from personal experience that hating your own body leads to one thing ONLY: It makes you put your life on hold and keeps you from enjoying everything. And I mean everything.
It affects your confidence at work (“I wonder if this dress makes me look fat”, “I’m so short, my superiors overlook me”). It affects your romantic relationship (“please don’t touch my stomach”, “I hope he’s gonna turn the lights off”). It affects your play time (“I need to bring 5 cover-ups to the beach”, “I cannot go out to dinner with my friends because I cannot resist the bread basket and I will hate myself for it afterwards”). It affects your health (“I constantly worry about my body. I think about nothing else”, “I either starve myself or stuff myself just like I under or over-exercise. I don’t know how to be ‘normal’ with my body”).
The truth is that when you get behind yourself and your body, your whole life will take a completely different path. When you stop being your worst enemy and harshest judge, your life will unfold and flourish in completely unsuspected ways. When you stop putting your life on hold until your body is perfect, you will start to actually live NOW.
The journey toward authentic body love takes some time, care, and tending. Most often our issues with our bodies are very deeply related to self-worth, early relationships, our childhood and upbringing, engrained societal standards of beauty etc., so I am not saying that switching from body hate to body love is easy. However, it has to start somewhere and the best time is right this second!
Here are 3 powerful ways to get this process of feeling beautiful started today.
1) Create awareness for what you like about your body. We tend to dwell on the negative and see what we don’t like. That’s like trying to find your ideal career by looking at your weaknesses instead of your strength. Just like that it makes no sense to find confidence and beauty by focusing your energy on the parts that feel imperfect to you. For example, I used to focus all my negative energy on my mid section -I was at war with my stomach and my stretchmarks- and completely forgot about my legs, neck, and eyes that are perfectly beautiful. What about you? I recommend writing down your top 3 favorite body parts. Perhaps its your wrists, your hands, your hair, your eyes, your shoulders, your back, your butt, your boobs, or your abs… channel some positive energy and appreciation into these areas. Once you foster appreciation there, perhaps that appreciation can flood over your other less loved areas as well?!
2) Remember that your body is there for more than just looks. Think about what your body allows you to do. My wide shoulders for example allowed me to be a good swimmer and a great hugger. Perhaps your strong legs allow you to run for miles or your arms allow you to cook beautiful dinners or carry and hold your children and parents. Perhaps your stomach allows you to digest and full out vital nutrients from food.
3) Create the time and space for you to FEEL your own body and enjoy it. Fostering an mind-body connection was huge for me in order to actually get to know my body. We are all pressed for time, but it is up to you to take a closer look at your schedule and prioritize how you want to feel in your body. While I am all for moving your body, enjoying nourishing and delicious foods, and pampering your body by taking baths, getting mini massages, spoiling it with yummy lotions and decorating it with jewelry etc., I also believe that there are many subtle ways to feel your body more.
One of my favorite ways to do this is a grounding exercise that I do in the morning (but you can really do it anytime). Listen to the mini 3.5-minute audio I recorded for you here or simply read these short instructions that you can repeat on your own time and in your own mind:
Ground your feet on the floor. Distribute your weight evenly. Feel the energy entering from the earth, through the soles of your feet and up into your legs. I like to imagine that energy as a bright yellow-gold color rising up in me. Your knees are flexible above your ankles. So are your hip bones. Your stomach is soft and relaxed and filled with this good, positive, bright earth energy. You feel it climbing up your spine and opening your heart and shoulder area. Your palms face forward. Your shoulder and your ears align with your ankles, knees, and hips. You hold your chin up high and give yourself a little smile. The bright light of the earth energy surrounds you and makes you feel warm, confident, and bright. Take a moment to feel your body and see how beautiful and shiny it is!
Is this an area you struggle with? I would love to hear from you about what you are struggling with, about your relationship with your body, about feeling beautiful, and ways that you have found to be helpful. Email me at Caroline@carolinezwick.com and share your story with me.