Discover how to like your body before you love it
How do you feel about your body right now? Do you have body love, or do you look in the mirror and see something that you dislike or even despise? You have a thousand observations that are really judgments about every single aspect of your body. You can’t imagine changing your perceptions even the slightest. Feeling that way is common and is easy to understand how people fall into this way of feeling about themselves. But there is a new way to deal with this that may be helpful to you. If we are going to take better care of our bodies, we need to change our attitudes about them. We have to learn to love them as it is almost impossible to change or care for something we hate. Here are a few important truths that relate to body love:
1. LIKING YOUR BODY.
Body love does not mean that you have to LIKE your body. Many weight-challenged individuals resist body love because they think they have to like it before they lose all that ‘nasty’ weight. However, loving your body is different from liking it and anyone can develop the ability to have body love. Body like will come later.
2. HAVE COMPASSION FOR YOUR BODY.
Body love means that you have to learn to have some compassion for your body. For example, relate to it as if it was an abused child that asked for your help. If you begin to see your body as an object worthy of your love (not like), then the entire process of caring for it will change.
3. LEARN TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
Another part of loving your body is learning to listen to it. Most people who are overweight stopped listening to their
bodies long ago. We (weight-challenged persons) have learned that food would help us manage our unpleasant feelings. Once we discovered this, we stopped listening to our bodies and paid sole attention to our emotions. For instance, our anxiety said, ‘Please help me feel better. I need pasta and bread to calm down!’ Then anger spoke up and said, ‘Listen, I would kill for a French fry. Get it and
get it now!’ After that, sadness, loneliness and hurt all combine to force us to eat tons of anything that will fill that terrible empty space that those feelings cause. Pretty soon we have lost awareness of our body’s messages of being full or satisfied and eating becomes almost always about feeling better. Then we get fatter. The truth is, your body is actually your friend and can tell you exactly what you need and want to eat and when you are full and satisfied. You don’t have to like your body to listen to it. But if you do listen, you will discover that it will be the best weight loss friend you ever had.
4. END YOUR SELF-CRITICISM OF YOUR BODY.
This is another way that will really help you learn to love your body. STOP your body-criticism monologues. STOP the constant mental attacks on your body every time you happen to look in a mirror. You would not tolerate that kind of abuse from anyone, so decide to stop doing it to your own body. It never eases the sadness, loneliness and pain and it usually makes you feel so bad that you want to eat to make yourself feel better. Stopping your body-criticism will create a space in which you can listen to and care for your body whether you like that body or not. Soon you may even notice that your body thoughts are becoming a bit more compassionate and then you will be on the way to real body love.
Dr Matthew Anderson has a Doctor of Ministry specialising in counselling. He has extensive training and experience in Gestalt and Jungian Psychology and has helped many people successfully navigate relationship issues. Dr Anderson has a best-selling book, ‘The Resurrection of Romance’ and he may be contacted via his website.