Making Peace With Your Body
With the beginning of a new year come New Year’s Resolutions. It seems as each year goes by, more people are creating resolutions around improved relationships and internal happiness instead of weight loss and exercise. Still, it seems you can’t throw a stone without encountering someone who feels, or has felt negatively about their body.
A simple way of looking at this is through culture, though many different factors come into why we might have a difficult relationship with our bodies. Most of us are aware our culture has created, perpetuated, and supported the destructive concept that there is an “ideal” body. If we don’t have this “ideal” body, we get the message our bodies are somehow flawed and can start to believe we are unworthy or unlovable as human beings.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
The good news is that there has been a social movement to challenge and shift this toxic cultural message and way of relating to our bodies. The Body Positive Movement (the concept that all bodies are good bodies and worthy of love) and the Health At Every Size Movement (the science-backed belief that one can be healthy regardless of size or weight) are becoming more widely known in the mainstream and in social media. These movements support the shifting of your relationship to your body so you can learn to appreciate your uniqueness instead of believing you are inherently flawed.
Our Bodies Are Sacred and Magic
On her capsule podcast, “Belly Love,” writer Rachel Cole talks with Ivy Felicia, a Body Relationship Coach about finding body peace and acceptance. They discuss a moment when one of them looked at her forearm and realized her arm was made of the same matter as the stars. Similar atoms and molecules that make up the cells in our bodies also create the stars in the sky! This is a simple yet profound shift in thinking about our bodies. We are made of the same elements that make up the sun, the moon, the grass, the trees, and on and on. There really isn’t much separating you from your favorite spot in nature. How can we berate our bodies when we’re so connected to the sacred and natural world?
Finding Appreciation and Gratitude
Think for a moment how you came to read this article. Your body got you here. Our bodies are responsible for so much that we all take for granted. Focusing on all the ways your body helps you achieve and accomplish your goals, both small and large, as well as experiencing pleasure, helps us find body peace. My body helps me travel to the places I adore, hug and kiss the people I love, play the guitar, smell the fresh ocean air, and dance. My body also does so much for me that I'm privileged to not have to worry about, like breathe, digest my food, and, as a woman, even create human life!
Body Peace is a Daily Practice
Shifting your mindset and relationship to your body takes daily practice. Talk about your feelings in relation to your body with others you really trust . You will be surprised how universal and relatable your feelings are. Speaking openly about your insecurities about your body can also help reduce the intensity of your feelings.
As you practice self-acceptance, avoid judging other people’s bodies and appearances as well. Think about the messages from friends and family, and the type of media you consume. Surround yourself with people who are as positive and accepting of you as you are, and consider purging your Instagram feed of any people whose messages make you feel worse about yourself.
Feed yourself food that is nourishing, satisfying, and gives peace to your body. Listen to your body’s signals and honor the messages you hear. If you are a woman, understand that your body is constantly changing throughout each week of the month with your cycle, and try a period tracking app to better understand your hormonal cycle.
Remember that body love and acceptance can be hard. One day you may feel OK about your body, and the next may be a totally different story. Deciding to be at peace with your body, as it is in the moment, is a choice. If that still feels hard, try saying to yourself, “I’m willing to consider thinking about trying to feel at peace with my body.” Even just a little willingness each day can have profound shifts.
Julia Forberg is a licensed somatic psychotherapist in private practice in San Francisco. She works with individual women facing anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship issues, body image issues, and work/life balance. Using talk therapy and somatic (body-based) interventions, she loves helping women connection with their hearts and find relief from their suffering.
Health at Every Size: https://www.haescommunity.com/
Ivy Felicia: https://www.memybodyandlove.com
Rachel W. Cole: http://rachelwcole.com/
Resources for Eating Disorders: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org