3 Ways to Practice Body Appreciation
If you are a human being you’ve probably battled with negative thoughts about your self-image. Society drives us to want to look a certain way. “If I could just lose "x many" pounds” is such a common thought in our culture. Why is it that we are so negative about how we perceive our bodies?
The bottom line is that you see yourself differently than how everyone else sees you. This is true for everyone. We all have our own perspectives and subjectivity to how we see things. Your idea of what is “pretty” or “ugly” is different from mine and we see everything through our own lens, including ourselves.
So which is right? Your view of yourself or my view of you? What is the “truth”?
What matters most is what you believe yourself to be. But most of the time we seek validation from the outside world. This validation might make you feel better temporarily, but you’ll find that your belief about yourself sits underneath all the external validation and if the belief is negative, it festers.
How can we change the way we perceive our physical bodies?
Try these three techniques to practice BODY APPRECIATION. Instead of focusing on how we look, we focus on appreciating what our bodies do for us.
Focus on the internal.
We are so focused on our outside appearance that we forget to recognize and appreciate everything that is going on internally. You may have tried to look in the mirror and say 5 positive things about your appearance, but this can be difficult because we have skewed perceptions of our self-image. Instead, try closing your eyes and feel all that is happening inside you without your active attention or direction. How amazing is it that your heart pumps blood throughout your body allowing for life? What a privilege is it that your nose and mouth work together to deliver delicate taste. How about the intricate workings of the bones, ligaments, and muscles that allow you to stand up and walk across the room?
When you focus internally, there are infinite things to appreciate about your body. You can apply this gratitude to any task that your body does for you, whether it be sleeping, exercising, eating, working etc. Your body is truly amazing no matter what it looks like. We all share the same experience of the inner workings of our bodies. This connects us as humans and is something we should give positive attention to every once in a while. Remember: Breathing is a virtue!
2. Do what makes you feel good.
Every person is unique in what is healthy for them. Learn what makes you feel good and do that, not what some fad diet or exercise plan tells you to do. But for this to work you have to be honest with yourself. Does what you are eating give you strength and energy or does it make you feel sluggish and tired? Are you overworking yourself through excessive exercise? Are you sleeping enough? What is your body telling you? Make sure to listen to it. Show your body appreciation by giving it what it deserves.
3. Look in the mirror.
Looking in the mirror can be difficult for some and can trigger negative thoughts about body image. While it can be helpful to say positive things about your appearance while looking in the mirror, sometimes it can be hard to believe those positive affirmations. I’m suggesting you try something different. Instead of focusing on what you look like when looking in the mirror, draw your attention to your eyes and hold your focus there. Shakespeare was right when he said “ the eyes are the window to your soul”. As you look into your eyes you experience who you really are in your being (or soul). Who you truly are is not how you look on the outside. While your body is ever-changing through aging, your eyes provide to you the feeling of the unchanging essence of your true self within.
Learning to love your body is a process that begins with shifting your perspective from feeling the need to change it towards accepting yourself completely as you are. Practicing body appreciation allows for the shift to acceptance through awareness of what your body does for you consistently, regardless of shape and size.
Most of us struggle with rejecting the body we are in. For more help learning to appreciate your body contact me today.