Hello beautiful friends ~
Recently I’ve noticed a theme in many of my coaching sessions, which sadly does not surprise me, and probably will not surprise you, either. Many of my clients (men and women) struggle with body image issues. No matter what shape or size our body is, it seems that so many of us face the feeling of not [__________] enough. The list is endless: not [tall] enough, not [thin] enough, not [strong] enough, not [curvy] enough, not [fit] enough, not [sexy] enough… You get the point. Lots of us have this endless self-talk, whether we consider it our inner mean girl, our inner critic, or our inner bully, that tells us we’re not enough.
Some of us have voices that are louder and more persistent than others. Some of us aren’t aware of the voice subtly degrading us. And a few of us have figured out how to tell that voice to be quiet. We each have our own ways of navigating life, and our self-talk, but it sure can be rough.
The first thing I want to say about this, is not to be too hard on yourself if you recognize this inner voice. Look around you. We are inundated (at least in the U.S.) with messages that tell us, #1: to be discontent ~ to always, always, always want more, better, younger, sexier… And #2: there is a perfect body and it looks like THIS (insert almost every advertisement here…oh, and by the way, I notice you don’t really look like this, but maybe if you buy product X you will, but also even if you do buy it, most people still don’t look like this and surprise! even many people who do look like this have body image issues!) Did you follow me there? Point is ~ sooooo many of us have these issues because of (what we call in Communication terms: the generalized other). This generalized other tells us how we should be, and it tells us what we should be a lot…(a LOT).
If somehow we figure out (usually over time and with support) how to overcome the generalized other, and say, “Hey, generalized other! Eff you ~ I reject you!” we may still have significant others (parents, friends, lovers, siblings, colleagues, or anyone else important to you) who might be reinforcing that message of not [_____] enough, because THEY experience the same issues. Lovely. (Note sarcasm.) So not only must we learn to reject the generalized other, but also we have to reject the perspectives of significant others in our lives who might also (hopefully out of love, even if misplaced because of their own issues) telling us we’re not [________] enough. This is tough stuff.
In terms of our bodies, and ourselves, I encourage you to focus on your health and wellbeing. If you give yourself some space and solitude, thank the inner bully for his/her time and tell it to go away for reals, and then gently become present in your precious, unique body. I’m curious, at that time: Are you feeling vibrant and energized in your body? Are you feeling passionate and sexy? (No, not sexy in terms of the generalized other, but in terms of YOU. Are YOU feeling sexy?) Are you feeling healthy and whole? If you don’t feel these ways, then maybe there’s more space for reflection and possibly a few life changes. But, if you can be present in your body, and you can answer YES… then ROCK THAT, my friend!
I’m reading a book right now about radical self-acceptance called Beautiful You – a Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance, by Rosie Molinary. I’ve just started the book, but I wanted to share with you what Molinary calls a Body Warrior Pledge. I think this can help us to claim our vibrancy, energy, passion, sexuality, health, and wholeness…no matter what size or shape we are. If you ask me, we are love. So as loving body warriors, let’s help others to reject their inner critics, and find ways to grow and challenge our own bodies in loving ways.
The Body Warrior Pledge –
Because I understand that my love and respect for my body are metaphors of my love and respect for my self and my soul, I pledge:
*To stop berating my body and to begin celebrating the vessel that I have been given. I will remember the amazing things my body has given me: the ability to experience the world with a breadth of senses, the ability to perceive and express love, the ability to comfort and soothe, and the ability to fight, provide, and care for humanity.
*To understand that my body is an opportunity not a scapegoat.
*To be the primary source of my confidence. I will not rely on others to define my worth.
*To let envy dissipate and allow admiration to be a source of compassion by offering compliments to others.
*To gently but firmly stand up for myself when someone says something harmful.
*To change the inner monologue in my head to one that sees possibility not problems, potential not shortcomings, blessings not imperfections.
*To give my body the things that it needs to do its work well: plenty of water, ample movement, stretches, rest, and good nutrition, and to limit or eliminate the things that do not nurture my body.
*To see exercise as a way to improve my internal health and strength, instead of a way to fight or control my body.
*To understand that my weight is not good or bad. It is just a number, and I am only good.
*To love my body and myself today. I do not have to weigh ten pounds less, have longer hair, or have my degree in my hand to have worth. I have worth just as I am, and I embrace that power.
*To recognize my body’s strengths.
*To no longer put off the things that I wish to experience because I am waiting to do them in a different body.
*To understand that a body, just like a personality, is like a fingerpring: a wonderful embodiment of my uniqueness.
Love, love, love ~