We live in a culture that tells us that our bodies are not good enough and never will be. A culture that, as my friend CJ Legare says, works hard to steal our self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to us at a profit. They are selling, but we don’t have to buy. The following exercise did more to improve my relationship with my body than anything else I’ve done:
1. Make a list of things that your body does for you, and things that you appreciate about your body (your awesome hair, your beautiful eyes, the curve of your whatever, the fact that your body breathes for you, allows you to think, moves all that blood around all the time etc.) This should be a pretty long list. If you’re having trouble, e-mail me and I’ll help you out. I’m serious – make a list, write it down. I’ll wait….
Ok, now that you have a list (you do have a list right? You didn’t just skip ahead):
2. Start to notice the thoughts that you have about your body.
Really pay attention to when you think about your body and what you think about it. When do you blame it, when do you give it credit? When do you thank it for what it does, when do you accuse it of not doing enough? When do you think that it’s beautiful, when do you think that it’s flawed. Don’t judge your thoughts, just notice them.
3. Start replacing negative thoughts with positive ones from the list that you created in step 1.
This will take some work in the beginning – you’ll have to pay attention to your thoughts and then make a concerted effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. At this point, it’s ok if you replace negative thoughts about one part of your body with positive thoughts about another. What is important is that anytime to think something negative about your body, you interrupt that thought and replace it with gratitude. While you’re at it, start looking for opportunities to proactively appreciate your body. Soon, it will become a habit.
4. Notice the things that you typically struggle to love about your body.
5. Think of something (anything!) to like about those things.
For example, you currently struggle to love the shape of your ass – but you would have some problems if you didn’t have one at all so hey, thanks body for having an ass where an ass is supposed to be.
6. Replace negative thoughts about parts of your body with positive thoughts about the same parts of your body.
Lather, rinse, repeat and start having more gratitude for your amazing body and everything it does for you.