It is sadly easy to list all the things about your body or your personality that you don’t like or that don’t meet your level of acceptability.
If I ask you to list five strengths or five things that you like about your body, what would they be? Is that easy for you? Do you quickly think of one or two strengths and then get stumped, struggling to find any more?
One reason I think many of us struggle to list our strengths is that society has taught us to be humble – but this is not a positive form of humility but rather a means of keeping us all in our small little boxes. Keeping us from thinking we are better than anyone else. Australian culture does this particularly well and the tall poppy syndrome is a famous Aussie characteristic.
So we learn early in life not to stand out from others and it is seen as a failing of character to proudly acknowledge our achievements or skills. Women in particular have learnt this lesson well.
If you have every been involved in recruiting you will see how women tend to downplay their achievements while men are more comfortable in identifying and sharing their accomplishments, noteworthy strengths, character or skills.
When it comes to appreciating the wonder and beauty of our body women have also socially and culturally learnt the mechanisms of criticism much more competently then men. The old truism of a 45 yr old male with beer belly and balding hair looking in the mirror and going “oh yeah…looking good ladies” compared to a 45 yr old woman looking in the mirror and seeing unattractive fat and wrinkles.
What do you see when you look at your naked body in the mirror?
Can you stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself with love and admiration? So many of us struggle with the simple act of compassionately admiring our body.
However the first step in losing weight, changing disordered eating patterns, addressing a health concern, or being the best that you can be, is learning to love what is.
Honestly and compassionately and with pride, acknowledge the strengths of your body and character.
Start to truly see yourself and sit comfortably with your body.
Stand in front of the mirror – naked – and if you can’t quite do that yet, stand in your underwear or your t-shirt or whatever you can manage.
Really look at yourself? What do you see? What do you like? Your hair. Your mouth. Your muscular legs?
When you thoughts are pulled to noticing the ‘bad bits’, acknowledge, readjust the thought and move on. For example, ‘I hate my thighs’ becomes ‘ yep my thighs are heavier than I would like and it would be great if they were slimmer’ and let that thought go, don’t dwell on it but move on to seeing something that is positive – your smooth skin or that you are having a good hair day.
Each time you do this activity see if you can remove more clothing until you are comfortable naked. Each time relax a little more into appreciating your body and what it has done. Maybe it has nurtured a baby? Maybe it has survived trauma or illness.
Once you start to feel more comfortable and able to honour your body just as it is now, could you put on some music and move, dance – appreciate, accept, smile.
See how practicing this activity changes how you walk down the street. Can you walk a little taller or feel a little prouder?
Being proud and confident is a very attractive quality.
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