As I sit here at the end of a week where my self-love is in focus I am surprised to find myself feeling sluggish and worn down. Surely I should be feeling energized and in my inner goddess? I was highly confused by this predicament until I began working on the coming new moon ceremony for our local women’s circle. The theme this month is honoring our body as a sacred temple. It was a Eureka moment! I realized that whilst I had been working on my mental self-love processes all week I had forgotten one very important element of self-love. Honoring my body.
Now we all know that body image crisis is a huge modern crisis today. Schools are filled with unsure teens with low self-confidence, numbers of people with eating disorders are on the rise and yet the fashion and image industry dominates all forms of media. It is insane. (Yes that is my professional opinion). However, it is not a new phenomenon. If you look at cultural propaganda, even in the stone age, we as a species promoted our idea of the perfect male and female form. (Only then for women bigger was better. Male body image fashions have always leaned towards the strong and muscley, which proves women are more consistent in their tastes!)
So if we have this inbuilt need as a species to define which body type is attractive at a particular point in time how then do we break with this cultural tradition and honor our bodies as beautiful. Just as they are. Not as how society tells us we should be. Wauw well that’s a can of worms to open and one that could keep us here all week. However, I believe there is a simple answer. Really I do. I believe that by taking small practical actions we can recreate our own body image, find a comfortable place where we can honor our beautiful form and be confident in our bodies despite the world telling us we should be different.
Now, this is not a process we can do overnight. We can’t wave a magic wand and hey presto you love your body. Honouring your body is a process that comes with practice and commitment. Small baby steps, that eventually become habits so familiar you do not notice them. If you are having body image issues and want to resolve them or like me you have simply forgotten to honour your body in the turbulence of a busy life here is a guide to those baby steps to recreating your body image through a practice of self-love.
Remove the outside negative voices
Time for a media detox. Body guilt often gets ignited due to media. If you subscribe to magazines that promote a body type you will never have, then get rid of them. You do not need to consciously or subconsciously compare yourself. Subscribe instead to magazines that nourish your soul. Minimise your social media input, cut back on feeds that you can feel set of your body image guilt. And Talk back to your TV when you see commercials that use body image to sell products. Talk back to companies with your wallet by NOT buying said products. Buy products that nourish you and you feel good about. Turn off the ads. Remember media pushed body image guilt is just as unhealthy for you as a toxic relationship. When you stop feeding it, it cannot affect you.
Remove the internal voices
The internal negative body judge is in all of us. And it’s a battle to get it to shut up. However, it is possible. One of my favorite ways is when my mind says I don’t like …. I add but I do like…. Sometimes I need to write this down to reinforce the process, it works.
Compliment yourself in ways that have nothing to do with your looks. We tend to focus so much on what we see in the mirror and overlook our many other amazing qualities. Are you a good cook? A successful person? How about a warm, caring, friendly, or positive person? Make a list of 10 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your looks.
A great way to change your thoughts is to change your passwords. Imagine typing in ilovemybody 20 times a day. The more you use it the more it sticks in your mind.
Ask your body for forgiveness
If we hurt a friend we apologise so why not do the same with your body? By apologizing to your body for ways you may have neglected or abused it, you communicate to your body genuine affection. Your body has a consciousness of its own and you can expand your body’s consciousness in positive ways by writing a letter of apology to it. Don’t get into your guilt, focus on responsibility for your actions.
Nourish where it’s needed
We often neglect parts of our body in our busyness. Think about how you shower. Your self care routine. Do you stand on your feet all day but don’t give your tired feet a foot bath or a massage? Do you work at a computer all day but forget to stretch out? Do you work outside and not mosturise your skin? A foot massage, mousterising or even stretching can take s 10 minutes out of your day max. Nourish the parts of you that need it daily and you will feel reengerised and cared for.
Make self-care a regular thing
On the subject of care, how often do you do it? I have in the last few years got into the regular habit of self-care. A face mask, a hair mask, a trip to the sauna. (Gods I am grateful for the Scandinavian habit of having a sauna at every swimming pool!) I aim to do some physical self-care every 14 days and I feel great at the end. All rejuvenated and loved. Set some dates in your diary for your self-care days and treat your body as well as you would treat a loved one.
Bless your food
Honor your body by honoring your food. Take time before meals to be grateful for the food you are about to eat and the effect it will have on your body. As you do this mindfully and positivity you will notice a calming inside of you as well as a feeling o. This honors your relationship with food, with your body, and with yourself. As well as gently making you conscious of what you are putting into you body and why you need it.
Dress to honour your body
Dress for the body you have today, not the body you will have or had before. You deserve to look and feel your best right now. Clean out your closet and donate all of the too-small , don’t wear anymore or used to wear clothes to others in need. Keep only the clothes that fit and flatter you and most importantly that make you feel good.
One of my favourite sayings is “What thoughts am I wearing today?” If you want people to be positive, treat you with the respect and value you for your true worth, then you need to show them how you love, respect and value yourself.
Look in the mirror as you dress in the morning. Ask yourself –
-What thoughts am I wearing today?
-What am I telling the world about me?
-What message do I want to send into the world today?
Show the world the beauty you see inside you, how much you value you, externally. You will find that people reflect it back to you. Dress to honour the body and thoughts you have.
Treat your body with love
We all know that exercise and eating healthily is good for us. Personally, I suck at this. Mr. T is one of those uber healthy people that can avoid everything that is bad and do a lot of exercise. I am more of a Dawn French chocolate loving, duvet on the sofa kind of person. However, our bodies both deserve love and respect. If you like me cringe at the thought of a gym and love the salty fattiness of Chips, then here is a trick that will help.
Listen to your body and make conscious choices. Eat when you are hungry. Eat until you know you are full and not more. Ask yourself if you are eating from physical need or emotional need, from habit or boredom? Importantly notice how you feel after you eat. If a certain food makes you feel bad then don’t eat it.
Similarly with exercise. Listen to you body. If you feel tired when lifting you need to build strength. If you are having back pain it is likely yoga and stretching will help. Stairs are hard work then you need some cardio. Find exercise forms that fit into your life and follow your needs. Change the focus of your exercise from I have to do this to be healthy to this is an act of gratitude to your body for it allowing you to be alive and experience life.
Thank your body every night
Before you go to sleep at night take a moment to check in with your body. If you like you can do a body scan. Thank your body for being there for you. It could be you say something like. ‘I am grateful to my heart for pumping my blood around my body’, ‘I am grateful to my lungs for breathing in oxygen’. Or you can be more general. Just take a moment to recognise what you body has done for you today and be grateful
Honouring your body will recreate your self-image to one filled with love and beauty for your physical form. Remember without that form you would not be here. It is your responsibility to take care of it. Not in the way society tells you to but in the way you know to be right for you. Treat your body with respect and it will respect you, and so will other people.
So the question remains, how will you honour your body today?
Let me know in the comments
Have a lovely weekend <3