In the last email I told you about that guiding question I’ve been using lately…How Free Can I Be Right Now?
And you know, this so relates to how we feel in our body.
How much conditioning have we received around body image?
I bet you can remember things even from childhood.
I remember my overhearing one of my brothers telling Mum that I have chunky legs, apparently I always did.
I remember the age when I started pulling my stomach in because someone told me it was more attractive.
So much of the image of our beauty comes from other’s impressions of us.
But you know what I find so intriguing?
It’s that so many of the people we work with are really beautiful – radiant, attractive and sensuous with dazzling smiles and captivating eyes.
And yet most people, around 75%, think that they are unattractive, with too much podge and too many signs of ageing.
It’s quite a conundrum huh? Like wealthy people feeling guilty about spending money.
Beautiful people feeling like they are less than. Never Enough.
They get plenty of compliments, and can even remember them from childhood if they try.
I recollect, as clearly as those other memories, people complimenting my thick hair and almond shaped eyes.
And yet somehow the compliments don’t tend to stick.
You can never get enough of them to fill up your feel-good tank.
As Rick Hanson says in his book The Buddha Brain, “Your brain is like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive ones.”
I remember the time in my mid 20’s when this realization really struck me.
I had just returned home from my year in England and was showing photos to my family at the dinner table. Seeing one photo my sister said, “Oh wow, you look like a model”.
I looked at the photo, and I agree, I looked good.
But I remembered back to that cold summer’s day on a pebble beach in the south of England. And I distinctly remembered that I was feeling really uncomfortable, fat, bloated, far from beautiful and unhappy in my body.
Wow, what a mismatch between the external appearance and the internal experience.
I looked fine so why not feel fine? If others can see me as beautiful then why can’t I see myself that way?
This is why weight-loss doesn’t equal happiness.
It’s easy to think that IF we just get to this certain weight, THEN we will feel good about ourselves.
If only my stomach was a bit flatter or my thighs a bit thinner.
But actually, we set our future thought patterns right now in the present moment.
If you have never cultivated thoughts towards yourself of acceptance, compassion and love, then they aren’t going to magically appear when you hit a number on the scales, or fit into a certain size jeans.
It just doesn’t work that way.
On the other hand. If you start to foster kind thoughts towards yourself today, you may or may not hit a number on the scales or fit a certain size clothing, but you will plant seeds for the process of re-framing – changing the way that you view your body.
Changing your thoughts.
Calming that inner critic.
I remember the re-frame that happened for me in those early years.
As I got clear about how I really saw my body, what it meant to me and how it actually felt from the inside, I stopped referring to my legs as chunky, and saw them instead as a symbol of my groundedness, my strong roots into the earth. As I learnt that the correct way to breathe is from the belly, I saw my soft belly as a sign of body wisdom and true health.
It matters less how others see you when you have a clear vision of and for yourself.
It’s not even that the nasty voice doesn’t pop up, it’s just that you can hear it for what it is. A lie based on a false ideals, an unchallenged fear, someone else’s judgement call or just a thought that isn’t very important in the scale of a great life.
Over the years since I’ve been cultivating this loving kindness towards myself, my weight has stabilized and now fluctuates 2 kg up or down.
Not that I own scales, I jump on them perhaps once a year when we are visiting family.
The number just doesn’t hold anything over me like it used to.
And I never look at clothes sizes, if it fits it fits. If it doesn’t it doesn’t mean that the tag is right or wrong.
It’s a joy to recall as I write this, the other 25%, all the people we have met and worked with who love their body.
They are of all shapes and sizes. They can tell the stories of their journeys with weight, body image, food and the mind.
And they are just fine where they are right now. Knowing that it can always change. And probably will.
And there are more important, more enriching things to spend time thinking about.
So the question is how free can you be in your body right now?
What would it feel like to be free of all the numbers? The scales, the sizes, the calories, the grams, the percentages, the boxes.
What old conditioning are you ready to let go of?
How would it be to feel as good as you look?
Leave us a comment, we always love to hear from you.
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