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A question I was recently asked was: “Many people just notice the negatives of their own body image. How can a person change that negative perception into a positive one? What’s that process like?”
In my eyes, healing is a privilege. It teaches you things about the world and yourself you might not have the opportunity to know if you weren’t healing in some way.
I believe we are always healing ourselves in one way or another.
We all struggle with bad body image days and moments. Our relationship with our bodies and ourselves is always changing depending on the situation or circumstance. It takes constant awareness and willingness.
Here are three things that have helped me change myperspective of my body from negative to positive:
Being able to look back on the day and realize what I am grateful for helps tremendously. I usually start out with things I am grateful for in regards to my body. For example, I’m grateful for a beating heart – for being able to run around with my campers all day, for being regulated and hydrated on hot days, for being able to walk from one place to the next, for being able to see such beautiful sights, for being able to hear and share laughter with others. I’m grateful that my heart hasn’t given up on me even after all of my struggles with my body, food, and exercise.
Then, I give gratitude for things not body related. It helps take the focus off of my physical body, and adds other things in the mix. In general, showing and making known the things I am grateful for improves my mood overall, which in essence improves my body image.
When my mood is good, my self-confidence/self-esteem improves, making my perception of myself and my body positive!
2. Naked Yoga
When I mention this, people seem to be taken aback by it. But let me tell you, if there is one thing that has helped me with my relationship with my body and compulsive exercise, it has been naked yoga.
People are scared to be with themselves. We often involve ourselves in things to distract us or we focus on others. Yoga is already a wonderful practice. It kind of forces you to just “be.” Add your naked body into the mix and you’ve got a real test for yourself.
The body is a beautiful thing. It is yours and only yours. When you give yourself a chance to be with it, you actually can surprise yourself at how amazing it is. Naked yoga has given me a new appreciation for yoga and my body.
To be able to actually “be” with your own self is a powerful thing. You realize this body you’re in is a case for your beautiful soul within. There is no hiding with this modality. You are as raw and vulnerable with yourself as you can get.
Naked yoga has allowed me to really get to know myself and my body. I embrace my tummy as I breathe in each of my poses, my heart in Mountain Pose, my legs in Warrior I, my curves in Half Moon, my back in Wheel, and my eyes during Tree as I pick a focus spot. You have to be so aware in the moment of how to do a pose and where to look, there is no time for negative talk about your body. If you’re focused and repeat negative comments to yourself your whole practice, you’ve missed the whole practice.
Embrace your entire being and immerse yourself in the beauty of yoga.
3. Doing Exercise I Love
For years, I thought the only way to love my body was to make it something it wasn’t. I did this by compulsively exercising. I did anything but embrace my body. I involved it in exercise for all of the wrong reasons.
It wasn’t until recently I realized if I continued down the path I was on, my body wasn’t going to be able to hang on any longer. For years, it dealt with the pain I put it through and never gave up on me; it was time for me to do the same.
Before exercise I would ask myself, “Am I doing this because I love my body or because I want to love it?” I soon found what things my body enjoyed being engaged in. As my self-talk around exercise and my body improved, so did my relationship with exercise and my body as a whole.
When I do things I love, I feel really good in my body. I feel thankful and proud of what it is able to do. I no longer dread my workouts because I know which workouts are going to be fun and enjoyable and which ones I need to steer clear of.
I know what’s changed for me is the amount of time spent drowning in negative body thoughts and how I bring myself out of those negative moments.
My perception has made a drastic change over the years. It’s been a long and hard journey, but one I wouldn’t change for the world.
I do believe that because of this process, I am now more aware and gentle with myself than I would have been had I not gone through all of my struggles. The evolving process has taught me to be resilient; it’s taught me tough love; it’s taught me it’s not going to be perfect but it’s going to be just right for me; it’s taught me I am, always have been, and always will be good enough, just as I am, in whatever moment I am in. It’s a work in progress, but one I am grateful for.
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