These days, it seems like healthy body love is rare, while body hate is all too common. Every day, whether we notice it or not, we’re bombarded with airbrushed images of perfect bodies and made to feel like willpower weaklings or simply inadequate and unlovable if we don’t match the images that we see.
But what if your inner self-talk told a different story? What if you stepped into the power of body love – full of gentle compassion for that miraculous body you walk in every day? How might that change your life?
Many people want to develop a more loving inner dialogue, but simply don’t know how. If you’re ready for a change, here are 4 tips to begin taking small steps toward a new and uplifting relationship with your body:
1. Cultivate Curiosity Rather Than Judgment
We as a culture can be very hard on ourselves. Many people struggle with inner self-talk that is harsh and critical. That critical self-talk does not serve us. It actually holds us back from getting what we want. One small step you can take to begin healing your relationship with your body is to observe how you speak to yourself. Just get curious. Listen to your inner monologue. Our inner voice is so habitual that sometimes we don’t even realize how truly negative it can be. The simple act of observing your thoughts is the first step toward changing them for the better!
2. What Would You Say to Your Child?
When you find yourself being overly critical about your body, take a moment to think about how you might speak to a child or a friend if they were in the same situation. How might you react if a child told you they hated their body? A small step that you can take here is to consider how you might suggest that child speak to themselves about their bodies. Words like “gentle,” “compassion,” and “love” would most likely be part of the conversation.
3. Listen to Your Body
Take a moment to consider how your body feels. As the field of Mind Body Nutrition teaches us, your body is a powerful source of intuition, and it gives you messages every day regarding what it needs. Here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, we’re strong advocates of listening to your body. Observing your body takes the focus off of your inner self-talk, which occurs in the mind, and provides an opportunity to enter into a deeper and more caring relationship with your physical self. By honoring your body’s messages, you can begin to understand the nuances of what it is trying to tell you.
For example, an upset stomach can give you information about how certain foods do not sit well with you. But at the same time, an upset stomach may be attributable to more than what you ate. What else are you not digesting well? Have things been off balance in your life? Are you struggling with certain relationships? Are you enjoying your work? Are you experiencing stress?
If you tune in, your body will give you an abundance of useful information. It will tell you when it’s hungry, full, tired, and in need of balance. It can tell you when it’s fulfilled and rested. You just need to listen!
4. Focus on How Your Body Serves You
Can you find ways to celebrate how your body serves you? Are you able to exercise? Play with your kids or your friends? Do work? Enjoy activities? One highly doable step you can take to reframe your thoughts around your body is to simply show gratitude for what it allows you to do each day. Remind yourself that your body serves you in a multitude of ways and you may begin to see a shift in your thinking. You just might begin to notice that your self-talk is less negative and more positive. You are beginning to cultivate body love!
Remember, you’re not alone if you struggle with negative self-talk about your body. Changing our inner monologue can take time, but in struggle lies opportunity. This is an opportunity to remind yourself that you are being called to do some higher work. You are being called to recognize that your body is a vessel for life, and it deserves to be celebrated regardless of its size, shape or weight. So take some small steps today to begin to cultivate love, compassion and kindness toward your body, and watch your life transform.
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