For so many years I fought my body. I fought to make it smaller. I fought to make it healthier. I fought for healing. I fought to make it more fit. I fought to make it everything I didn’t think it was already enough of.
As I’m sure you understand, I didn’t move from this place of always trying to change my body, never feeling enough, never being happy with my body…to a place of deep love and compassion for it overnight. In fact, it was really an evolution that took years. Early on, the steps I took to achieving more body peace were small and fleeting (they were redirections that lasted only for the moment). The most significant changes came when I started recognizing the power of my thoughts and my mindset and committed to releasing deep limiting beliefs and negative thinking. I got as serious about developing more awareness of my thoughts as I had been about controlling every morsel of food that entered my mouth when dieting. I got uncomfortable – even more uncomfortable than *almost* any time I felt hungry from dieting. This time, however, it was coming from a place of love and I could feel the profound difference.
I want to share with you some of the most significant ways I was able to move, first, from a place of disgust for my body to more neutrality, and then to a place of love.
I’ve always promised to be real with you, so I want you to know that I’m not always standing in a blissful place of love and peace with my body. I still move in and out of body neutrality, and even have fleeting moments of disgust. Our brains are literally hard-wired to have a negativity bias. However, I’ve learned how to see those negative thoughts for exactly what they are – just thoughts. I no longer allow them to rule my days and weeks and months. Most often any negativity I feel toward my body is recognizable within moments and I’m able to turn it right around. I still go back to the shifts I used when I first began my journey to more self-love and compassion.
So let me share them with you…
Six Ways I Developed More Self-Love and Compassion
1. Looking at my body more objectively and releasing some of its importance
This one may sound odd since we are talking about how to better honor our bodies, but hear me out. This was one of the first and most important steps I took in moving from disgust to more neutrality.
I began looking at my body through MY eyes and stopped trying to look at it through the eyes of others. My fear hadn’t been my extra harsh judgment of myself, but believing that others were judging me in that harsh way.
I began to detach from the incredibly high importance I had put on how my body looked and began to look at it in terms of its components: skin, tissues, fat, bones, muscles, ligaments, organs, etc. It was interesting how looking at the individual parts of my body more objectively, then actually allowed me to view my body more as a whole, but with much less emotional attachment. Any judgement that popped up, felt more like judgment of skin, rather than judgement of ME. Being able to start differentiating the two was a huge step forward for me.
2. Recognizing my body as a vessel for my love and light
I stopped seeing my body as something that was looked at only for its physical attributes and judged based upon those. I began thinking of it as a vessel for carrying my innermost being around this earth
I began thinking of my body as carrying my heart and my soul, which are the beacons of my love and my light, holding the true spirit I have to share with others. In this way, my external, physical body became so much less important in appearance and so important for the work it was doing to help me show up here on earth.
3. Expressing Gratitude
Seeing my body in this way led me to begin expressing so much gratitude for all that my body is able to do for me. Rather than seeing my thighs covered in cellulite, I was able to see them carrying me around this earth, taking me on the walks I so enjoy, and so much more. I began to feel so grateful for my arms and having the strength to lift and carry my children and multiple heavy bags of groceries. I began to be so grateful for my body’s ability to do house and yard work. And I began expressing gratitude for all of these little things that I had so often taken for granted every single day. Seeing past my body’s outward appearance to its abilities (even during a long period of illness where my body wasn’t performing the way it had in the past and the way I longed for it to perform) made expressing gratitude so much easier. AND this allowed me to begin to feel grateful ALSO for my outward, physical body, EVEN those parts of me with rolls and cellulite and wrinkles and dry skin…
4. Doing mirror work
As I got better at looking in the mirror and seeing past my outer appearance to within, I started doing “mirror work.” First it started with looking myself in the eyes in the mirror saying, “Deanna, I love you!” I spoke to myself with the same passion, commitment, and unconditional love I have when I tell my children I love them. It felt pretty uncomfortable and silly at first, but addicting and emotional too. I had never really seen myself through these eyes of compassion.
This really prompted me to start thinking more about the thoughts that went through my head and the words I would speak to myself. I would ask myself if I would think those thoughts about or speak those words to one of my children. This helped me to become even more kind and compassionate toward myself.
As I continued to do the mirror work, I began to see something so much deeper than the cellulite on my legs or the roll on my tummy. At the time, it wasn’t even so much that I loved my body, but I began to love and see myself as a WHOLE.
5. Trusting my intuition
This led me to wanting to honor myself more. I made space for listening to my intuition, rather than my ego. I started asking what I needed, whether it be for my physical body or my mental, emotional, or spiritual being. I began honoring whatever came up, which fueled the trust and love I had for myself. And my feelings of gratitude rose to new heights as well.
6. Believing my body is working FOR me.
I began to trust that my body was working FOR me and not against me. I had believed for so, so long that my body was a mystery. I had been “fighting” it for the things I wanted. It was never enough and never obeying my “will.” However, when I began to recognize that no part of me was broken, that my body had ALWAYS been working FOR me, that none of it needed fixing, and that I WAS ENOUGH just as I had always been…I developed a new level of respect for myself that I had NEVER had. I felt so full of gratitude for my body and all that it had done for me and was continuing to do for me! I began to realize that working WITH my body, in support of it, thanking it, honoring it, trusting it…felt thousands times better.
In fact, making all of these shifts (and other mindset shifts) allowed me to finally achieve the vibrant health I had “fought” so hard for previously, but with ease, love, compassion, joy, and gratitude! No more fighting! I called a truce to the war I had been at with my body.
So loving my body really came from a place of loving ALL OF ME and knowing that my physical body carries the deeper, most exciting and beautiful parts of me. By loving my outer body, my inner being can shine even more brightly. Now, please, let your light shine bright too! I can’t wait for you to experience it and for the world to see!
Which of these resonates with you most? What’s helped you develop more self-love and compassion?