That said: Here’s what I know (or want to know) about loving the body we’ve been given. The process begins with acceptance. And to accept one’s body, I believe, can be broken down into a three step process:
Step One: Make Peace With Yourself
The journey toward body acceptance begins by making peace with yourself. Sure, we all have things about our body we’d gladly exchange if we could, but what’s the reality in this idea? Therefore, begin by asking yourself: “What about my body must I learn to accept as it is?” To help identify my feelings, I like to use a journal. When you’re ready, jot down your answer to this question. Look at your answers: Can you find ways to be grateful for what you have? What gifts does your body allow you to share? Make a note of these answers, as well.
Here’s a personal example: When I was younger, I was taller than everyone else at school. I felt displaced. Although I tried to slouch and slump, it didn’t decrease my height much. I also realized my back hurt a lot. But more importantly people were always asking: “What’s wrong?” “Are you depressed?” It wasn’t until later, I began taking a look at how being tall was a great benefit, as well as how my body language was contributing to my outward negative expression.
Step Two: Become Aware Of Your Body Language
This brings me to Step Two of our three part equation: What is your posture saying about you? Body language tells a story. If we pay attention, we can tell a lot about a person just by becoming aware of their body language. Think for a moment: What is your body language saying about you? Take a look: Are you slouching with arms crossed? Is your posture not what it could be? Aside from compressing the organs, poor posture could also be telling the world you are unhappy.
In his bestselling book, Body Language: The Essential Secrets of Non-Verbal Communication, Julius Fast tells us that body Language is actually a scientific principle. The scientific study of body language, “Kinesics,” has proven that body language can actually contradict verbal communication. Here are just three ways your body language can give a negative vibe to anyone you are in contact with:
• Poor posture
• Arms crossed
• Eyes averted
Conversely, there are also a great many ways to exhibit positive body language: eye contact, strong posture and a confident stance. Check out this fun list of body signals here:
Step Three: Find Something You Love About Yourself And Let It Expand
Step Three gets tricky. I am sure we could all find things we “like” about ourselves, but this step asks you to find a part of yourself that you love. Again, begin with your journal. Now take a good look into the mirror and ask what you love about yourself. Perhaps with a spoonful of acceptance you can find a myriad of traits. Take some time every day to address the positive parts of yourself.
A personal example: I admit, I have large, curly, complicated hair. When I was growing up I did everything to straighten it: slept with a hat on, ironed it flat. You name it! Finally, in the 80s I realized how much time I was wasting. Why couldn’t I just accept what I had been given? One day I just said “okay – I surrender!” (Fortunately, Cher’s tousled mane helped me reach my decision). This brings us to Step Three B:
Find a Role Model:
I’m not a large advocate of looking to celebrities or mass media for divine inspiration. Yet, I am always on the lookout for people of whom to admire and model myself, regardless how their message is presented to me. Most often, I believe there are angels and guides ready and waiting for us to accept our teachings, then show us what we need to know.
This requires little more than looking outside ourselves and becoming aware. Look around. Who is holding a message for you? Often times, I look to my brother for inspiration. As I’ve mentioned often, he was born with Spina Bifida, a paralyzing birth defect. Although unable to walk, he continues to have a deep fondness for his body and is grateful to it for allowing him to work and experience life. It makes my hair dilemma seem a lot less significant.
Every day I try to take time to thank my body for the freedom it gives me. Whether I do this by musing in my journal or simply stopping to affirm and congratulate myself when I complete my exercise for the day. Although Loving oneself and the body is guaranteed to be a lifelong process – I personally try to recognize when my frustrations are real and when I become muddied by the superficial. I would say to you, as I say to myself, aim to set superficial thoughts aside. Give yourself the freedom to love and accept yourself in the perfection you were created.