For many people the jump from body hatred to body love feels overwhelming and impossible. However, one thing can be helpful on the journey to creating a more positive image. That one thing is thinking about a sense of gratitude for body function.
Recently, my therapist recommended that I write down what I'm grateful for about my body. By doing this regularly, just like keeping a journal, will make it easier to search for the positive aspects of my body rather than dwelling on the negative. Here is how my first week went:
As I have my pen to paper, it's really hard to come up with anything about my body that I'm grateful for. No part of my body seems to be good enough or ideal in my mind. The minutes are going by and my mind is still blank. I close my journal. I ask myself, over and over, "what am I grateful for about my body?". At this point I'm frustrated with myself. I decide to do something else instead.
It's a few hours later and I glance over at my journal. Maybe, I can think of something now. I grab my journal and I open it. Still. Nothing. Part of me wants to give up and the other part me wants to give it a try. Then it hits me!
I do know that I love and appreciate what my body does for me regardless of my negative thoughts about my body image. So I start to write how "I love and appreciate" my ears because they allow me to understand others while my skin protects the body I live in.
Today is easier to write about what I "love and appreciate". I think this is because I know that I can write about every feature, every limb, and every organ that does something for my body. I don't have to limit my love and appreciation to only my appearance. I took time to write about how I "love and appreciate" my neck. This is because I'm able to acknowledge other view points and other ways of doing things.
I am spending a lot of the day focusing on a part of my body I dislike and I have a problem with. Instead of doing this, I decide to turn that negativity into "love and appreciation" for my kidneys. Yes, I may feel like I'm peeing a lot today but that's a good thing! It means that my kidneys are doing their job of filtering out things that are wasteful to my body. Also, they are helping to regulate my blood pressure and electrolyte balance which is very important for my body.
My doubts, fears, and negative thoughts about my body are starting to come up today. I keep telling myself as long as I recognize them for what they are, they have no power over me. Today I allowed myself to give "love and appreciation" to my mind. This is because it enables me to recognize the beauty of my body.
I feel like taking a break from this journal thing but I won't! Instead I will explore my resistance. A couple of days ago I focused on a part of my body I dislike and I have a problem with. I wonder if there's a part of my body I haven't in the past and I currently don't want to "love and appreciate". It happens to be my knees. So I gave this part of my body extra special attention today.
Today is a good day. I feel a bit more confident. I'm not engaging in body checking behaviors that often. I know that some days will be better than others. It will take time before I stop. However, feeling "love and appreciation" for my body doesn't mean I'm complacent with it. Instead it just means that I can change from doing actions out of fear and hatred like limiting my food choices and overexercising to doing actions out of love like resting and eating a variety of food for my body. With this being said, I took time to "love and appreciate" my mouth. I know that I have a good taste for life and my mouth allows me to nourish myself.
I'm starting to notice a change in my thought pattern. It is happening little by little and day by day. This is why I will continue to journal.
Today I spent time to "love and appreciate" my age. Every year is filled with wonders of its own. I want to experience it all. I look forward to each new year as it unfolds before me.
No matter how difficult and defeating body image can sometimes feel, there is always something about your body to feel grateful about. Thinking about all of the incredible things your body does for you only takes a few minutes. Those few minutes can give you a lasting mood boost that can take you from feeling "okay" to feeling "great" on a more regular basis.
I intend to accept my body today, love my body tomorrow, and appreciate my body always. I hope you do, too!