Loving your body is an inside job. Focusing only on the outer appearance of your body inevitably results in trying to change yourself, instead of truly seeing all that you are.
Learning to love the body you are in, when your thoughts are often replete with body dissatisfaction, is a tall order. Many of us were started down the steep and slippery slope to painful, tired, old body hatred well before we were ten years old.
You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
In this world of ours, loving our bodies is often construed as trying to love the way you look. I notice that when the suggestion to simply “love my body” comes my way, I often feel a bit stymied. How do I “just do that”, especially if it’s not what I really feel? It can seem inauthentic to me to insist on body love when my experience of my size, shape and appearance can fluctuate.
So, when facing the challenge of healing your relationship with your body and learning to live in the skin you are in, it’s gotta be about going deeper in to yourself. This very act increases our opportunity to put body hatred aside for the moment and see how much more of our very self there is to know. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free” and this is especially true when we consider our relationship to our bodies and ourselves.
The new paradigm is this:
Find beauty and love in the steadfast, amazing, inner workings of your body. Consider the possibility and relevancy of falling in a little bit of love with the compassionate, quiet, tireless working being that is your body (right now). For example, can you allow yourself to take in the solemn and beautiful truth that your heart is beating over and over again, just for you?
This, most simply put, is an awareness exercise that can morph into a gratitude based perspective shift. And, this shift is foundationally different than trying to like your outer appearance more. This paradigm is building a relationship with the parts of you that validate your wholeness and gift you with endless possibility.
Offer this to yourself:
I allow myself to see the health and beauty that is present in my body in this moment.
I invite to it to flourish and grow as it is without needing to change it.
There is a way of breathing
That’s a shame and suffocation
And there’s another way of expiring,
A love breath
That let’s you open infinitely.
Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC is a therapist and co-founder of Be Nourished. She encourages conscious and authentic living, with the courage to love yourself anyway.