Anyone else starting to get the feeling that there is just as much pressure to love our body, loud and proud, as there is to starve it? Me too, me too. So what are we supposed to do with that? Don’t get me wrong, body positivity is on the rise and its a beautiful thing. But chances are, if you have had a negative relationship with your body, past or present, flipping a switch to suddenly loving yourself is going to make you only feel further discomfort and alienation and might have you feeling for the safety of those unhealthy habits that left you feeling stuck to begin with. Or at least so my experience goes.
Enter to the ring, Body Neutrality. For the past while, I actually thought this was a term I coined, lol. Insert ego hair brushed, 99, 100, but the minute I read on it, I was like, aha! Other people feel it/get it too! This isn’t just a me thing. What it is though, is a human thing and I think the sooner we talk about it the better off we may be.
I never made the decision to suddenly love my body. I just couldn’t do it. Dope if you can. But that was not the case. In fact far from. What I could feel though, was a sense of appreciation, acceptance and gratitude to name a few. Pride? Adoration?… how about a strong no. Surprised? And the same seems to go for many of my clients. Time and time again I get asked, when am I going to look in the mirror and love myself? And the honest to god truth is, I have no idea. I hope it happens, but regardless, you can still take care of yourself, feed yourself and find happiness regardless of loving your body and thats a fact.
“My problem with body love, beside the fact that it’s a high standard, is it’s asking women to regulate their emotions, not just their bodies,” says Autumn Whitefield-Madrano. I couldn’t agree more. Looking in the mirror even if you do not have a dysmorphic idea of yourself may not be a daily win, but it doesn’t need to be a loss either. It just needs to be what it is, your body!
It’s keeping us stuck in our bodies, and I’m not talking about presence. One of the tings we are doing is creating this hyper level of awareness on how we are based upon what our body should feel like, be it positive or negative. How about we just step outta the body for just one hot sec.
Ok, so all is well and dandy, but how do we get here? Ok, some ideas to get us started
Don’t force it –
“You can still enjoy eating well, moving your body and looking after yourself, but with body neutrality you’ll be doing all those things with acceptance and joy, not force and perfectionism,” says Mendoza-Jones. The weight of longing to be something else – smarter, stronger, funnier – may actually dissolve a little in this ‘less stress’ mindset. “It is fundamental that we value ourselves on our innate attributes, not our size or shape. The by-product of this is that we no longer seek to punish, restrict or accessibly move our bodies; rather we accept them as the functional nurturing things that they are.
accept instead of react
hey, we are emotional beings, and nothing can be more sensitive to the ego but a feeling in the body. We need only to open our news feed or overhear a conversation on the latest diet, and suddenly be down a shitstorm of body anxiety. Accept what comes up instead is reaction. This may help to dissolve discomfort that comes up with comparison and competition, to name a few.
Know where you want to put your energy –
We only have so much energy to give out to our work, family, friends, etc. Deciding that you are going to minimize how much energy you put on your body gives you some awareness and probably redirection of thought when it becomes too intrusive.
Think about your body like your friends –
says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D. I like this. Friends are your supports and yet they are not perfect. You see the good and bad and all the in betweens. As always, compassion can be quite transformative.
Listen to your body
what is it saying? like really. Hungry, tired, full. Whatever it is, when you tap into some signals, it can help guide you to a neutral place which is really where our body is wanting to get to.
Drop the story
see where you’ll end up – we all have them. Probably more than we realize. so your pants are digging in a little today, or your thighs feel big. what about approaching these parts of your body for what they actually are. Just a friendly reminder that your thighs don’t have an emotion… even though our brain wants to tell us this is true
Body neutrality is more about an experience as opposed to a state of being that we have to become. Positivity is not always in the cards, but perhaps much like life, it is impossible to always feel a certain way, positive or negative. At the end of the day, no-one should feel the pressure to be anything but what they are and I can only speak for myself, but thats the part of me I like most.
More on this another time. Much much more.