We can talk about self-care and self-love all day long. And yes, those things are so so important. But what about love for our bodies? Body love is so related to, yet so very distant from self-love. Self-love seems fun and exciting; treat yourself to something nice, take a bubble bath, have your nails done, go to yoga, say no to more things that you don’t want to do. Honestly though, have you even thought about body love as being a part of self-love? Or, does you kind of cringe when I say the words body and love together?
I know mine sure used to.
Yes, it still does at times. When I am stressed, stuck in judgement or comparison, and just not grounded in myself and my truth.
Self-love vs Body Love
I hope you can see, and maybe even feel in your body the difference between self-love and body love. Self-love feels like taking time for yourself, spoiling your self, being there for yourself. It feels good. On the other hand, maybe self-love feels a little foreign to you, (but that is a topic for another day).
Body love most definitely feels foreign to a lot of you reading this. Body love is exactly what it sounds like, being in love with and having love for your body. Our bodies are the vessels that carry around who we are, our energy, our soul, our purpose, and all of the parts and pieces that make us up. But society and conditioning, generation after generation has made up this false view of what a body should look like, the ideal body, the body that deserves love and attention.
And that, along with past experiences, has caused confusion with so many people and their relationships with their bodies.
It is time to bring more awareness to having, not just self-love, but also body love. And to get there, awareness is the very first thing you need.
5 Stages of Body Love
The first stage of body love is having awareness. Just simply have awareness around the fact that yes, you do hate your body. And that freaking sucks.
I need you to know, you are not alone.
Are your first thoughts of the morning related to you body, what it looks like, what you don’t like about it? Maybe you wish it looked a different way, felt a different way?
Start there, start with awareness that these thoughts are there and that they are not good thoughts. But that is okay, that is where you are right now, those thoughts get to be here.
Simply shifting from being in those thoughts to a place of having those thoughts allows you to have have awareness of those thoughts rather than being stuck inside of them. It puts you slightly outside of your thoughts, allowing you to see more of the picture.
“I hate myself” can ebb and flow throughout the day. Start to pay attention of when that thought creeps in. And, as I have said, just have awareness of those thoughts.
Stage 2 of body love is acceptance, and I think of it as being two parts.
Part one. Now that you have awareness around your thoughts, it is time to start accepting them. Accept the fact that you hate your body, accept the thoughts, accept the feelings, accept it all.
We cannot move into healing and transforming if we cannot accept where we are right now.
There is too much pushing and fighting against resistance if we try to heal without acceptance first. We go from the negative thoughts to instantly wanting to be at a place of love and transformation. But you need to fully be with the hurt to learn, to grow, to heal. So, accept that you have those thoughts and don’t try to push them away.
Part two of acceptance. We need to accept our thoughts but also accept our bodies. Accept our bodies as they are right now. No pushing, no fighting, no doing, just being. Just being with your body as it is.
What parts of your body can you accept right now? What parts of your body are you comfortable with, the least comfortable with? And, what part feels foreign, unsafe?
Accept where you are. Feel the tension, fear, hate in your body and allow it to be. Maybe this will make it less scary, less icky feeling to have these thoughts. Maybe by accepting your body and what comes with that will allow you to learn what you need to continue along your path of healing your relationship with your body.
Little by little you will be surprised what can come from this.
This third stage is about having accepted your thoughts and your body, accepted that you hate your body. With that acceptance, there is room to move into feeling neutral. You don’t necessarily love your body or hate it. You are in a place of neutrality, no feelings one way or the other.
Now, we can be in this stage for any amount of time. Take as long as you need. Heck, some people spend years in this stage.
Celebrate your ability to get here. This is not an immediate transformation. Being in a neutral stage allows you more time and freedom as you are no longer bombarded with negative, hateful thoughts and feelings. You are no longer constantly judging and comparing your body. Take this extra time to get to know your self.
The fourth stage of body love is learning to love your body. This means you are learning to love your body and want it wants and needs to heal.
During this stage, you will become more intimate with yourself and with what you need. As you learn more and do more, you will start to collect evidence of how beautiful and strong your body is. You will collect evidence that you are the medicine, you yourself are the answer you have been searching for. You have the power to give your body what it wants and needs to feel loved.
And, you will begin to learn how much truth and wisdom your body holds and how to use this information. When given the opportunity, our bodies can really tell us the answers.
So go about your day, your life and learn more about what your body wants. Give it what it wants, collect evidence that your body is bad-ass.
See how much more you can love and accept your body. How can you deepen your relationship with it, so that at any given moment you can easily know what it needs. How can you deepen your relationship with it so that at any moment, you can use the intuition and wisdom to help guide your decisions and choices? And better yet, how much more comfortable can you become with just being in your own skin?
Ahhhh, stage 5, love your body.
Now that we are here, I need you to know that you do not simply arrive at stage 5, loving your body, and stay here for the rest of your life. You will waver in and out of this.
I mentioned this earlier about myself. Stress, falling out of alignment with yourself, losing your grounded-ness of being in the moment, are all things that can cause you to waver outside of stage 5.
And that is okay because along your path of loving yourself, you learned so many things about yourself, so many tools to help you come back to stage 5. Life is ever-changing and unpredictable. So of course something could (and will) happen that may cause you to slip back into old habits. But, you have your newfound relationship with yourself, and with that relationship and the tools you have learned, you will be able to get back to loving your body once the dust settles.
You will start to notice the things that trigger you in your life, allowing you to be able to act accordingly, progressing through the stages, back to the feeling of love, of being home in your body .
Once you have moved through the 5 states, continue to connect with yourself, to nurture this relationship. What brings you joy and connection to your body?
Remember, you are not alone. I see you, I hear you, and I feel you. And so does everyone else that has read this.
I encourage you to take some time to yourself now. Maybe you could journal, or just be with your thoughts and explore your relationship to your body.
What parts of your body do you hate? Can you find some acceptance for this hate? What does your body need right now? Is there fear in loving your body? How does hating your body serve you? What is it costing you to continue to struggle?