Love yourself. Love your body.
I’m sure you’ve heard these clichés. Blah blah blah.
After years and years of trying to fit into society’s views of your size, your shape, your color, or your awesomely massive frizz-ball of hair, you’re just supposed to flip a switch and BAM…love yourself?
That’s quite a tall order.
The overarching idea with the Body Positive movement is that you can be positive about your body. Or you can be neutral. You can be elated. Or maybe you can just accept your body—its virtues along with its perceived flaws.
If you can see your waistline in the same neutral way that you see your left pinkie toe, you’ve accomplished so much!
So, how to start? It’s amazing that meme after meme will tell you what to do, but neglect the HOW. HOW can I love myself? HOW can I accept myself?
Let’s start small. Can you pick some part of your body that you do love?
Are your nails a nice shape? Maybe you have nice eyelashes. Or a joyful smile.
Maybe you give fantastic hugs. Or your earlobes are cute.
Still a little too much?
Create a list of people you respect. Think about who they are and what their passions are. Then consider this: is their appearance important to their accomplishments? Did you consider their appearance when you added them to this list?
Think about how amazing your body is. How the various internal streams and rivers deliver oxygen, nutrients, and a multitude of cells to where they are needed in order to perform actions and keep you healthy.
Move your body. Find your joyful movement and experience your own strength or fluidity.
Still too intense?
Ask your family and friends to tell you about their favorite moment with you. Live in that moment with them for a few minutes and see it from their perspective.
Re-examine the “truths” you’ve been told for the past few decades. Which messages resonate with you and which are doing harm? Which result in guilt or shame?
So now the why. WHY should you love yourself?
As you begin to love parts of yourself, you will develop respect for yourself. You are a valuable member of your family and your community. Your intuition and instincts are treasured. With that respect comes confidence and courage, as you can now see that you can use your talents to help yourself and others. You can begin to better empathize with others. As we grow in compassion for ourselves, we grow in compassion for others. This shift in focus from the self to the other makes space for fulfillment and happiness. It also decreases anxiety as negativity is eliminated.
Embracing the present helps us to release the past. You can hit the stop button on all of those unpleasant memories circulating in your mind.
Consider this: what is like to live in your head? Do you know who you are when you’re not immersed in judging yourself negatively? How much time and energy do you spend on a daily basis feeding these feelings of negativity? And finally, what could you be doing with all of that valuable mental real estate?
This isn’t easy. It takes constant work. Until it doesn’t.
An old Native American legend illustrates this struggle:
Once upon a time, a grandfather told his grandson, “Grandson, there are two wolves inside of me. One wolf is good and altruistic, generous and kind, and the other wolf is mean and greedy, violent and angry. The two wolves are fighting constantly.” The grandson replies, “But which one will win, Grandpa?” And the grandfather says, “The one I choose to feed.”
Learning to love yourself isn’t a switch. It’s the tide coming in and going out. It’s the little ripples and waves throughout the day. It takes intention and patience.
But it’s within your reach. Just start small.