One of life’s great challenges is learning to accept ourselves as we are. That doesn’t mean there won’t be times when we will want to makes changes. We are still responsible for protecting our physical health. But, it does mean that we can abandon the elusive quest for perfection. It is possible to love your body even if it isn’t exactly as you want it to be. These four tips are a great start for teaching your brain how to love the body you have.
Stop comparing yourself to others
You could search the entire world over and still never find anyone exactly like you. You are uniquely you in the way you are made. Get a mirror and really look at all of you and what you are able to do – not just your parts. You’re amazing! Celebrate your unique look and style.
Remember, confidence comes from within. How you think about the way you look, rather than how you look can make the difference. Think about it. You probably know someone that would probably never make the cover of a magazine but is nonetheless attractive. What you see isn’t perfection but the attractiveness of confidence and healthy self-acceptance. Poet Lucille Clifton offers a lovely example of embracing the body you have in her homage to her big and mighty hips (read her poem homage to my hips). Why not create your own affirmation for your unique self?
Consciously look for things you like/admire about yourself
Clifton offers a powerful example of finding something to like in herself. Her poem is a standout because she accepts herself and rejects the idea that hips can only be narrow to be worthy of notice or celebration. Maybe you can focus on the fabulous way your large feet function to keep your body upright. Maybe you don’t like your forehead but you love your nose. Give the things you love a bit more attention and have compassion for yourself when you feel yourself lacking. Remember each time you have the thought that it is just that, a thought, and thoughts can be changed.
Acknowledge you have a choice is loving your body
“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your unguarded thoughts” This quote from Buddha gives us a powerful example of the importance of managing our minds moment by moment. We are all constantly getting subtle messages that we are not good enough or that we fall short in some way. The best way to protect the mind against unfriendly messages is to pay attention to what you are thinking. Notice where you mind goes and when it begins to stray into critical or self-loathing territory gently put it on another path. You may even what to choose a mantra in advance such as, I am okay or I accept myself as I am or everyone feels insecure sometimes, this is a moment of suffering that will pass. Keep practicing and be patient with yourself as learn to think kinder thoughts about your body. After all, it took a lifetime to learn to dislike your body, it won’t be changed overnight but it can be changed. Keep at it.