Unfortunately, most women and girls suffer from some form of body shame.
It usually happens early on and stays with us throughout the rest of our lives. The majority of my clients struggle with body shame and being able to love themselves. They often say that they want to lose weight or get into shape so that they can be happy with themselves and feel better.
However, my belief is that in order to lose the weight or get healthier you must learn to love yourself FIRST.
I spent the majority of my life hating my body. In elementary school, I was so skinny that I would get made fun of. Then when I hit puberty, I noticed my thighs were getting bigger and began rubbing together. Everything was changing, and even when I exercised more or deprived myself of food I still didn’t feel happy. Everywhere I looked there were images of beautiful women that were everything that I felt I wasn’t. As I look back at that little girl, I wish I could show her how beautiful and special she was and that there was no shame in her body.
Have you ever walked by the mirror in the morning and thought, ugh I look terrible. My skin looks tired. Look at those wrinkles. Where did that pimple come from?
Those behaviors undermine your ability to love yourself.
We have to learn to love ourselves with total acceptance. To be fine with who we are, just the way we are.
Then, we are in a state of compassion and we are able to make conscious and subconscious choices that will nourish instead of harm ourselves.
Authentically loving yourself requires giving yourself attention, acceptance, and appreciation. Doing this will help silence your inner critic and replace negative thoughts with kinder, more loving ones.
Loving yourself is not something that happens overnight. It didn’t for me and it probably won’t for you. Most of my clients feel like it is an impossible task. This is something that takes time and practice.
When you align yourself with the belief that you can do anything and you just need to break it down into chunks, it doesn’t feel insurmountable.
Step 1: Curiosity, not Judgement
Identify the behavior you want to change and approach it with curiosity instead of judgment. If you are already judging yourself and you ask yourself questions like: why do I do this or how come I do that, you are judging and not questioning your choices. This can automatically make you feel overwhelmed, which sends you right back down the rabbit hole. However, when you switch to curiosity instead of asking why or how questions, you release the judgment.
Step 2. Affirmations
In order to feel like you have love and belonging you have to believe that you’re worthy of love and belonging.
Logically, this makes sense. However, for many women, it’s not really that simple. You have to give yourself permission to be yourself and be compassionate when you’re not perfect. You have to be willing to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you authentically are—if that makes sense.
One of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Be yourself; no base imitator of another, but your best self. There is something which you can do better than another. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that. Do the things at which you are great, not what you were never made for.
When you notice the wrinkles on your face, appreciate the smile lines and remember those moments that made you smile. If you see dimples on your thighs be grateful for allowing your body to be strong enough to walk and move. The more that we can be grateful for our body’s capabilities and beauty, the more we will be able to release the guilt and shame holding us back from being our healthiest.
If you believe your body has the capability to heal itself given the right environment, then you should also believe that this applies to self-love and your inner image of yourself. When we love our present state, we reduce our stress and anxiety. In response, our bodies will naturally crave things that are more healthy and loving.
Action Step: The next time you walk by a mirror, find one thing about yourself for which you are grateful and feel love for that part of you. It might be your hair, the color of your eyes, or the dimple in your cheek…
Check out my Facebook Live on this topic: