When we love something, we take care of it.
And, when we have a love/hate relationship with something, we often end up mistreating it then feeling guilty, then berating ourselves for letting it go.
Which of the two statements above most accurately describes your relationship with your body?
Are you looking after it from a place of the highest self-love, or are you putting it through cycles of punishment/reward and constantly reminding yourself of the perils of “letting yourself go”?
If you more closely identified with the latter, read on….
I’m going to cut right to the chase – the notion letting yourself go is an illusion, set up by your own cycles of fear, guilt and shame.
Your body doesn’t just up and disappear, nor can you “get your body back”.
It’s just your body.
It’s still your body.
And when we attach these connotations of fear, guilt and shame to the state of our bodies, we back ourselves into a corner that feels impossible to get out of.
- “I’m afraid of letting myself go.” (Fear)
- “I can’t believe I let myself go.” (Guilt)
- “I’m so embarrassed by how much I’ve let myself go.” (Shame)
Have you ever said any of the above?
If you have, now is the time to start doing some introspection and assess the emotions that those reactions are coming from.
Perhaps you felt at your physical best at a certain point in your life, and associate key life events with a changing of your identity and moving towards a personality/role based identity rather than a physical identity (for example, motherhood changing your body and you now identifying more as “just” a mother than as a beautiful woman in your own right).
Perhaps your body has changed in ways that you didn’t expect, and you don’t necessarily like the way it has changed. Perhaps there are some health issues that you’d like to address, but you’re noticing yourself becoming caught up in defining health by aesthetics rather than by function.
Perhaps you’ve had a traumatic life event like a breakup, or perhaps someone close to you has made a negative comment about your appearance that has weighed heavily in your mind.
Whatever your motivation for feeling as though you’ve let yourself go, it’s crucial to gently guide yourself towards some healthy perspective.
Note: this isn’t about giving yourself a big hard slap in the face with reality, as reality is merely a perception that varies from individual to individual. This is about aligning your current reality with the reality that you desire.
Your body is not:
- A work in progress
- Something broken that needs fixing
- A grounds for experiments in punishment and reward
Your body is:
- Your home
- Enough, just as it is, at every stage of your life
- Something to be treasured and taken care of through balance and love
For many of us, we may have a fear attached to letting go of the idea that our body is our project or a work in progress; something to be fine-tuned and perfected – with the fear coming from the idea that if our body is no longer our project, we’ll neglect it.
But I can promise you, that’s not true. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
When we learn to let go of the pursuit of perfection and learn to stop trying to measure our health by how many fingers we can wrap around our wrist or the ever-shrinking number on the size tag of our jeans, we can take better care of our bodies.
Suddenly, the concept of self-care just seems to ‘click‘.
We stop feeling so damn crazy every time the dessert menu is brought out, stop beating ourselves up for resting our bodies and start moving our bodies out of a genuine desire to make them feel good. We’re able to easily move past traps of comparison and jealousy, and find beauty in others without feeling like their beauty threatens our own. We can be the best version of ourselves by knowing that the best we can do in that moment is always good enough.
Now that’s something worth striving for.
I’m going to refer back to the question I asked you at the beginning of this article, and I’d like you to take a moment now to reflect.
Are you currently treating your body with the highest form of self-love, or are you putting it through cycles of punishment and reward?
If the way you’re treating your body isn’t sitting well with you physically or mentally, what steps can you take to change that?
The power lies with you to make that decision and make self-love a priority.