Sometimes I talk to my body. By sometimes, I mean, quite a lot. Yes, I mean actual conversations, as in, “Hey body, it’s Becca here, I have some things I need to tell you.” I just had a very long conversation with her (since I am female, I always reference my body as her – go figure). It is what prompted me to come home and write this blog article in fact.
I am lucky enough to be on vacation right now. When on vacation, I try to relax as much as possible, because I’m a practice what you preach kind of gal and I know the importance of self-care and downtime. And, I try to make sure my body gets to relax too. What does that mean? Do I lie around all day and stay as still as possible? Well – for an hour here or there maybe, but that’s not my style. What I do is make sure I give my body lots and lots of love, from the inside out. Let me explain.
The relationship that I had with my body for many, many years was not what one would describe as compassionate or loving. I was very hard on my body, both physically and verbally, and I detached from her for most of my early childhood and adolescence. I was nowhere to be found, hiding in shame and fear and completely unable to recognize her for her magnificence and beauty.
Fast forward a few decades. Add years of personal work, growth, and discovery. Sprinkle in a decade of working as a body image and eating disorder therapist (which is a career that keeps me in the flow of my self-care and needs), and what you have is a woman who talks to her body every single day. I just had a super long love fest while I was getting a massage (one of my favorite times to send love to my body, as I always offer massage to my body as a thank you gift). As I lay on the table, I took about 10 minutes and practiced Ho’Opono Ono, which is a Hawaiian meditation that simply has you repeat these four things:
I love you
You can use this meditation for anything under the sun, but where my body is concerned this is one of my favorites because I have a lot to be sorry for due to my past transgressions against my body. I have even more to be grateful about due to my body’s perseverance and strength.
Another one of my favorite places to talk to my body is when I am working out. For so many years, working out was a way to punish myself for eating, for being what I deemed was some form of “too much or not enough.” One of the ways I reclaimed exercise for myself and continue to do so is by thanking my body for its strength while working out. I have no studies on this, but it’s my experience that repeating affirmations of gratitude and awe while I am lifting a heavy weight or moving my body with relative exertion is exponentially powerful.
Practicing internal affirmations while moving the body is releasing and connecting at the same time, as you use your brain (cognition) and your body (experience) together in tandem to create a new, healing experience. Try it and tell me what you feel, I bet you’ll agree. What does this look like? Try saying “I am strong in body and mind” as you lift weights. Try saying “My legs are amazing and I am lucky to have them” as you walk. Connect your thoughts to gratitude and encouragement and be your own cheerleader as you move your body.
By now, most of us have been exposed to the idea that our thoughts create our reality. We have seen the evidence-based results of therapies that work to change our thinking and focus our minds in ways that make us feel better. What we fail to realize sometimes is that this is not a short-term fix when it comes to body love. It’s a relationship. It’s about you creating a healthy and loving way of relating to your body, and you can start by creating a conversation (the same way you would if you were starting a romantic relationship – you start by talking to each other). The goal should be to have loving and affirming conversations with yourself. Yes, I talk to my body. I create a relationship with it, the way I would with anything in my life. If I don’t do this, there are plenty of negative forces in the world that are more than happy to let me know what’s wrong with my body, so I will feel bad and buy their products or shy away from speaking my truth and claiming my space. It begins with you. It begins with your self-talk. You get to decide what messages your body will hear about its worth and value.