“Body Positivity” and “Body Acceptance” have been big themes this past year, as they trend as hashtags and movements all over the social media. Sometimes, one might even feel pressured to accept their body as is, ashamed that they might secretly harbour insecurities and love-handles they would like to be rid of. And who can blame them? Despite the increasing efforts and endorsements to include all shapes and sizes, on a day to day basis we are still being bombarded, both overtly and subconsciously, with messages about what an ideal body looks like, and these messages can be difficult to shake.
So what do we do?
For one, let us consider that both messages about accepting our body as it appears, and messages about the “ideal body”, both focus on either accepting or denying the worthiness of our outward appearance.
What might happen to us, if we shift this focus to our body as something that functions and serves us? What might happen if we shift our efforts to being genuinely grateful for the body that we have and what it does for us on a day to day basis?
Our bodies are essentially machines, and to focus our attention only on the outward appearance is doing us all a disservice. That is because when we judge our bodies harshly based only on outward appearance we are generally left feeling unsatisfied.
And when we judge ourselves negatively we also some self- respect, and our behaviors quickly begin to align themselves with our beliefs. We begin to treat our body with the same disdain we have towards it: we overeat, we do not get enough sleep, we consume more alcohol, etc. In short, we do not show it respect, it begins to show in our bodies, and the cycle continues.
So instead, let us focus on what our bodies do for us, and truly feel grateful.
Here are some examples about how to shift your focus from your body’s outward appearance to a focus on function; where you can be grateful for all of its capabilities, including the ones you do not directly see:
Your eyes give you vision to absorb the world around you. Do you know anyone who has lost the precious gift of sight? How lucky are you to have it. Be grateful for your eyes.
Your legs are a unique network of muscles, joints, and tendons, designed to allow you to move anywhere your heart desires. Not everyone enjoys the freedom of movement. Be grateful for your legs.
Your liver is your body’s built in filter, cleansing your body of impurities and toxins. It has quite a difficult job and it works so hard you. Be grateful for your liver.
Your hips that seem to have become too wide? Perhaps they widened so that you could safely deliver a healthy child . Be grateful for your hips.
Your skin, that might have wrinkles, is a warrior. As your body’s largest organ, it protects you daily, protecting you from microbes, allergens, and other environmental stressors. Be grateful for your skin.
You get the idea.
If you struggle with your own body-acceptance and self-love, try this practice on a day to day basis, writing as many affirmations of gratitude that you can think of. Try not to repeat them unless you are truly feeling grateful that day for a particular way your body serves you. You will be amazed at how creative you can become as you develop gratitude.
Truly make the space in your mind and heart to be thankful for what your body does for you, and to appreciate that these gifts are not, and will not be, always guaranteed.
When we can shift our focus and really feel in awe of the magic that our body accomplishes for us every day, our minds begin to catch up and you will really begin to feel gratitude for your body.
And as you begin to harvest true respect for your body, your other self-care behaviors will also likely start to change, even to the point where you truly do come to love the image you see in the mirror looking back at you.
Liz Benedix – HealthyLux Passionate Contributor
HealthyLux December theme – Embrace and love your body
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