What is Body Love?
It is a choice, it is a mindset, it is a way of life.
Now I should start by saying that as a recovering "go-go" wannabe superwoman, the idea of body love was a foreign concept. I was also disconnected from self-love, self-acceptance or any other such "hippie nonsense" as I would proclaim loudly from my self-righteous pedestal while multitasking...
There's nothing like falling off the pedestal to have you reevaluate your position, and your priorities.
If you were taught self-love then "Yay!" - this will be an easy concept to embrace. If, instead, you are coming from a place of being disconnected or, even worse, you are currently engaging in some full-time self-loathing - then you are due for a change!
Personally, I found self-love a little elusive when I started. Especially because I was coming from an unhealthy space and my thinking was - "What exactly is there to love?" I thought I would love myself when I got healthy, when I got "abc" done, or when I reached the milestone of "xyz".
And - there's no way I was going to love myself when I was down and out! But, of course, that's when you need it the most.
What we all need and crave, whether or not we are consciously aware of it - is someone who is going to love us, adore us, treat us kindly, speak tenderly, forgive us, use positive reinforcement and be our ultimate cheerleader.
Now, if you want someone else to do this for you, but you don't love yourself, then you are not going to respect that other person. After all, how can they be so dumb as to love you? They must be an idiot. When they try to treat you nicely, you'll reject them. Ever self-sabotage a healthy relationship but you don't understand why? Hmmm...
So, here's the deal - YOU have to be that amazing person for yourself. Sound weird? Sound like an impossible place to come from? I thought so too, initially, and had to "step aside" and look at myself with a little bit of distance.
I decided to make a choice to nurture my self and my body the way I would a child. To find myself innately deserving of love the same way nature dictates we scoop up and care for a baby, without requiring that they perform or prove themselves first.
So I "stepped to the side" and looked at myself from the outside and committed to care for the body, mind and soul. That's why I call it Body Love.
I consider "you" to be your conscious, the "choice-maker" and decider in your life.
I consider your "body" to be everything else - your physical body, what you put in or on your body, your mind, the thoughts you think, your self-talk, your joys and your fears.
And, I consider it the ultimate act of self-care to focus on giving yourself Body Love whenever you can.
Adopt the mindset that your body deserves love. You will treat yourself kindly and tenderly. You (the choice-maker) is responsible for caring for your body the way you would if it belonged to a lost child and you were in charge of their care...
Don't believe it or feel it yet?
Just take the next right action and your behaviors will impact your beliefs. It's worth it. Once you are treating yourself kindly, you'll wonder why you didn't do this 20 years ago. And, yes, goals can be accomplished through encouragement and without criticism - yay!
Here is an example of what it looks like:
Food - when it's time to plan, shop, cook, or eat - ask yourself if what you are doing is Body Love? Will your body thank you later? Will it satisfy some primal urge now but leave you feeling bloated later? Make the best choice you can with the mindset of loving your body, caring for your body, nurturing that child (you) that is depending on you (the choice maker).
When you make a Body Love choice, congratulate yourself. Celebrate. Stack up those wins. You'll notice the difference in how you feel.
What's even more important is your response when you do not make a Body Love choice. In that situation, engage in the very next right action for Body Love - which is forgiveness. And, I mean "radical forgiveness.". The Body Love response is absolutely no shame, no guilt, no blame, no criticism, no pain.
Just notice what happens.
Perhaps in the example of a non-Body Love food choice you'll experience some digestive distress or it will negatively impact your mood. Okay. Duly noted. Move on.
Oh, but what happens if you make a "bad" choice again? Then surely "you are bad" and this Body Love stuff doesn't work.
It takes time to retrain yourself. Not only are you working to be kind to yourself and adopt a new mindset, you are also working to motivate yourself through positive affirmation and not fear or shame. Give it time. Just take the next right action each time, moment by moment, step by step...
The shift will happen. The good choices will build on one another and out-weigh your other choices. You are creating a new normal. Let perfectionism fall to the wayside.
Where else do you give yourself Body Love? How about these examples:
Body Awareness - be aware of your body, give it your attention, notice the sensations. Have you been sitting too long and are starting to feel stiff? The Body Love action is to get up and move around, do some stretches, go for a short walk.
Did you ignore your body's messages too long and now you are in real pain? No blame. Duly noted. Take the next right action, get some bodywork, drink some water, get some rest.
Some things to notice as your body moves through the day:
Are you tired? Are you sleeping? Do you feel wired? Are you judging yourself or others? Does your back hurt? Are you mentally rehearsing conversations in advance, that never actually happen? Are you being critical of yourself or others? Are you feeling shame or embarrassment? Are your thoughts racing? Are you procrastinating? Is your head throbbing? Is there a part of your body you are hating? Are you looking at yourself in the mirror with disgust? Does your throat hurt? Are you sitting with your head forward and your shoulders rounded? Are you eating until you are so full you feel numb? Are you telling lies? Are you sucking down Tums? Do you feel like crying but are trying to hide it? Are you putting chemicals on your skin? Are you going without meals? Are you drinking or using substances to not feel? Are you wearing clothing or shoes that cause you discomfort? Do you feel constantly irritated? Do you slouch? Is your breath shallow and rapid? Do you suddenly erupt into anger and start yelling?
Notice the moment - no past, no future - just the absolute moment you are in.
Be aware of what's going on and how do you feel?
Just notice. No blame - you don't even have to solve the "why" of how you feel or the predicament you are in - you just need to take the next right action by asking yourself:
What would be the next Body Love choice I can make?
And, depending on what is going on, what you have made yourself aware of, what you are now paying attention to in your body, mind and soul...you may need to:
Breathe some more. Meditate (even if for a 3 minute SOS session). Stretch. Eat some "Feed Your Soul" food. Drink some water. Go to the bathroom. Go for a short walk. Take a nap. Call a friend. Cry. Yell. Write. Color. Jump into nature. Take a bath. Go to the grocery store. Cook. Make a list. Shred a list. Buy a pet. Snuggle a dog. Hug a child. Jump in the shower. Take some whole food nutrients. Clean your room. Get dressed. Open that mail. Get into pajamas. Ask for help. Brush your hair. Get a pedicure. Get some bodywork. Turn off the computer. Stop the task you've been doing non-stop and finish it another day. Start the task you've been avoiding. Pray. Chant. Sing. Blast music. Turn off the TV. Open the book. Watch the movie. Get out of the house. Find some people to spend time with. Spend some time alone. Do Yoga. Take up knitting. Do nothing.
This is not a "to do" list.
The point is that you become aware and whenever you are able, you make the next right Body Love choice.
YOU know the answer.
You know what you need. You are great at giving advice and telling the next person what they need to do...you just are not used to taking this kind of care of yourself.
There will be hard times where making a great Body Love choice seems far away - so you just do the best you can. Plan in advance as often as possible and know that sometimes there is a small Body Love choice that can be made in even the worst of circumstances.
We truly do have control over how we respond to the circumstances in our life - in fact - it is the only thing we have control over.
So, if you can create the response, choose to be happy, choose Body Love. Why not?
And - I get it that there are times when your current state of health makes it impossible for you to feel happy. In that moment, the Body Love choice is the next right action in addressing that health challenge. That is choosing happiness...even if the feelings show up later.
That was a lot of words to explain a concept that is supposedly as simple as "self-care" - but if it has been eluding you as it had me - then I hope this process helps you along the path. It is the road less traveled and it has a much better view. Wishing you much Body Love on your journey!
Serving Hands-On Healing,