This may sound a bit odd coming from me, but I believe that regardless of what you eat - how many times each week you exercise or what particular diet you decide to try - if you do not have your inner life in order, it will be difficult to be at peace with yourself and your body.
In discussing ways to love your body, therefore, it is important to look at ways we can have peace with ourselves. Moreover, in this article, we will discuss an idea you may not have considered: forgiveness.
The Past Is The Past, Let It Go
The most important process we can undertake for our health and well being is to make a conscious effort not to leave negative energy embedded in the past. In an effort to move into the present time, and be at one with our own body, it becomes essential to let go of all the hurts and struggles that have led us to this moment. There is only one road to this state of oneness, however: the act of letting go.
As it turns out, I'm not the only one who stands by the belief system of releasing the past in an effort to improve the health of our minds, as well as our bodies and spirits. Carolyn Myss in her healing lecture series: Why People Don't Heal, makes the claim that forgiveness is the #1 way to move forward in health. And she can back it up. She has used the healing process of letting go to transform people from near death to glowing health. With this in mind then, ask yourself: Is there anyone or anything from my past which prevents me from moving forward? Said differently: is there something in your past that's holding you back?
Learn To Forgive Others, The Process
This brings us to the next step in our progress of releasing the past: learning to forgive others. Keep in mind, most often others say and do things as a result of how they are feeling about themselves. In most cases, whether they are aware of it or not, unhealthy individuals inflict their wounds upon us to salve their own pain. This can no longer affect us if we make a full effort to do as Don Miguel Ruiz says in his book The Four Agreements, and "not take things personally." When we do take things personally, we really could gather up a lifetime of emotional baggage.
As it pertains to body image and self-esteem, however, is there anyone you need to forgive? Has someone knowingly or unknowingly inflicted a negative body view onto you? Here's my personal example: When I was in high school, I had a "friend" who was popular, pretty and rich. As an introvert and troubled youth, I took everything most personally. Imagine my emotional baggage when any time I would so much as mention my interest in a particular boy, she'd make sure she would go out of her way to get his interest.
Needless to say, our friendship wasn't long term. And later I learned she had very low self-esteem herself because of a certain body part. Yet, when I was younger, her actions just plain hurt my feelings and gave me a negative self-image. Now I realize my insecurities at the time were my wounds to heal, and once I'd forgiven her and not taken her actions personally, I could move forward without holding on to past insecurity.
But to be honest, I had many more issues much worse to solve when I was in high school, so I know how difficult it can be.
Learn To Live In the Present, An Exercise
When we can learn to let go of the past and live fully in the present, we are also growing. After all, how could we grow if we have negative energy lodged in the past? Moreover, there are many other active ways to learn to live in the present. Begin the process by taking a current inventory of your body. I like to do this by using my journal (you do have a journal, don't you?)
Here's how it works
- Take a scan of your body. First, take body part by body part and make a note of what you are happy about. Ask yourself: What do I love about my "self"? At first, this may seem awkward, but I cannot stress the importance of taking time to spend time with yourself and learning to know "you."
- After you've noted all the positive aspects of your "self", make note of those parts you'd like to change. Keep in mind your boundaries - are these changes within your control? If so, make notes to yourself as to how you may go about making a change for the better. If changes are out of your control - take time every day to consciously send love to those parts of your body. Whenever possible, tell your mind that you accept your body and yourself for who you are right now.
- When you've finished, take a look at your list. What can you do right now that would make you love a part of yourself? Consider this your permission slip: Today, take time to do something good for yourself. Better yet, walk to the phone right now and make an appointment to do something for yourself. My favourite self-love activities? Here are a couple of suggestions. Ladies: A manicure or pedicure? Gentlemen: A massage?
Today, take time to focus on all of your positive qualities. Make an effort to forgive the past and move into the present moment. Prepare to grow!
- Make note: What do I love about myself?
- What can I do for myself this week that is "just for me"?