Written by: Andy Vantrease
If you’re like me, a MindBodyGreen addict and seeker of information on how to live a more vibrant, passion-filled life, you have undoubtedly come across several buzz words and phrases more than once: self-love, self-talk, be kind to your body, listen to your body (wait, eating only when hungry is actually possible?)
It’s tough to discern helpful information from marketing, and oftentimes we find ourselves reading so much into our topics of choice that the number of contradictory tips to reaching our goals can be overwhelming. However, when you find a consistent idea among the hundreds or thousands of different expert opinions out there, it’s worth trying.
For me, this is the idea of developing nonjudgmental, loving relationships with our own bodies.
This is no easy feat, especially if you’re suffering from chronic debilitating health problems. Chances are, you’re not happy with how your body is performing, and if this downward spiral persists, you start to see changes in your body that bring you further and further from the images of men and women you see on TV and in magazines. And, we all know that in order to be happy, we have to push ourselves to look more like them, right?
Our bodies are designed to keep the blood pumping, the heart beating, the limbs moving, the brain buzzing. They are not our enemies, and in fact, our bodies are our closest allies. Every body needs certain things to function – food, water, sleep, movement, stimulation – and every day, your body sends you signals, attempting to communicate these basic needs. It’s when we ignore the signals and feed into consumerism that we find ourselves in trouble. “I’ll be happier when I lose 10 pounds,” or “I will look so much better if I get rid of the bags under my eyes.” That inflammation is your body’s way of protecting itself and simultaneously getting your attention. But, instead of sleeping or eating more fruits and vegetables, the advertised solution is to reach for the latest under-eye cream and fad diet concoction.
One trick to developing body love is to view the relationship you have with your body as just that – a relationship. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to your spouse, best friend, mother, son, whomever you love most in this world. And yes, I really do mean talk to yourself because not only is this not crazy, it’s actually extremely effective. Create space in your day to remind yourself, “I love you, I trust you, I forgive you,” and “I accept you, unconditionally, right now.”
Care for your bodies the way you care for others: feed them, make them feel loved, shower them with positive affirmations, be kind and support them, ask them what they need and listen to their answers. View your body as an entity capable of telling you what it needs then try to deliver. Be in tune with your body’s desires, and you will be amazed at the way it rewards you. Learning how to interpret your body’s language– hunger, thirst, aching muscles, dizziness, shortness of breath, exhaustion – is paramount to your longevity and overall health. Do not push these signals to the side and barrel through on empty.
What would happen to a relationship if your significant other constantly ignored every single thing you tried to tell them, physically and emotionally abused you, starved you, tried to silence you when you spoke up? Does that sound like an ideal relationship?
Loving ourselves the way we are taught to love others is the first step in living a more balanced, healthy life. Look in the mirror. Instead of seeing wrinkles and sun spots, look into your eyes, and find that sparkle that shows when you look at your loved ones. Watch how your nostrils flare and your shoulders rise as you breathe. You’re alive.
No matter what you do to your body, it is there for you, forgiving you for every mistake you’ve ever made, walking beside you and picking up the pieces, turning on the lights every morning and saying, “We can do this again.” This love is unconditional, people. Allow yourself to return the favor. Work together toward the common goal of a longer, healthier life. In sickness and in health, till death do you part.