I love, love, love summer! I love the food in the garden. I love all the ways I get to play and call it exercise. I love the heat seeping into my body and relaxing tendons and muscles. It always seems to help melt away resistance- to change, to doing stuff I don’t want to do, to not being perfect, to not always knowing what to do.
In the spirit of that, this is Part Two of the article “Laws of a Perfect Body.” Here, we’ll talk about body confidence, why it matters, how to have it, and why you may not have it.
Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have someone telling me they want their body to be different than it is. “Great!”, I say. “And how do you feel right now?”
Of all the answers I get, here’s the one I NEVER get:
“I feel fantastic! I feel amazing!”
Here’s a sampling of what I often hear instead-see what strikes a familiar chord with you:
“I feel okay, but I ate too much…and I’m angry with myself about it.”
“I felt pretty good until I got on the scale and realized I’d gained 2 pounds over the weekend.”
“I feel awful about myself. I put on a favorite dress I haven’t worn in awhile to go to a garden wedding, and it’s too tight on me.”
“I feel really discouraged. I work pretty hard at eating well, but I can’t seem to lose these last 10 pounds and it’s driving me crazy.”
So what does it really take to have body confidence, to feel good and fully living there in your body? Notice I didn’t say “get” body confidence.
Rather, we practice and learn ways to start to inhabit our body with confidence, with appreciation, with celebration. We consciously enter into this. It’s an agreement we make with ourselves.
Why should we care about body confidence?
We get to drop the distraction. The story that we’re somehow less that we should be. We enjoy ourselves more, and so the people we care about enjoy us more. We get to feel life more, and that’s fun.
When we’re fully living, fully present in our bodies with appreciation, even celebration and a strong sense of actively interested curiosity (no matter what we think they look like that day or that month), we send a powerful message:
I love this body that carries me around.
I get to live in here. Yay!
Your body is the temple where your essence lives, always.
And it’s no less a temple if the front steps need sweeping.
The women I work with discover they have subtle ways of postponing feeling really good in their bodies. We create simple practices for them to feel good now, no waiting until…ANYTHING. Feeling good now is the goal. And plenty of feeling good now creates a lot of momentum for more and more feeling good moments. I know… it sounds great!
So, a few simple practices you can begin with right now, in service to sweeping the temple steps:
1. Stop apologizing.
This is huge. Stop apologizing to yourself. Stop apologizing to others for yourself. Save your apologies for the very few times they are actually called for in your life. Set the intention to catch your words both out loud and to yourself that carry apologies that diminish you. Apologizing is a subtle way we can minimize ourselves, our value and our power. I used to apologize to a boyfriend for not wanting to eat steak because he loved cooking meat. I was inconvenient. Yep.
Whatever the current state of your body, and how you’re living in it, you’ve arrived here because you’ve needed to. Every judgment and every extra pound, real or imagined.
Why? Learning why and exploring this is crucial to easily sustainable change. You can do this HERE
2. Stop postponing feeling good.
The habit of “I’ll let myself feel good when…” is destructive. This is a kind of holding out on yourself, a meanness that erodes the gentle, self-supportive you and leaves no space for you to grow your self trust and your intuition. Stop trying to teach yourself a lesson.
If you think you ate too much for dinner two nights in a row, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and that you should give up on your intention to eat lighter dinners, for example. If you dropped a twenty dollar bill out of your wallet yesterday, would you really need to throw the rest of your money away today?!
Right…so drop this as often as you can, whenever you notice you’re doing it. Pleasure is a lot more fun than pain. Do whatever you need to do to feel good right now. Please. If you know you want more for yourself. Sit down and start a running list of simple things that you KNOW let you feel good. Keep it handy so you can add to it. And when you DO feel good, check and see…what contributed to these feelings that I could maybe hold close and melt into again?
3. Stop being so nice.
I’ve worked with lots of women who realized they’d been using their sweetness, their niceness to compensate for what they think is wrong with their bodies. In a sense this is related to #1, apologizing or accommodating when you don’t authentically feel like accommodating. A clear way to know if you’re doing this:
Ask yourself, “Would I be acting this way right now if I felt great in and about my body?” Make sure your sweetness is real, your niceness genuine.
4. Step out and have fun!
One of the most powerful ways I know to start honoring your body exactly as it is right now is to own your fun with it. There’s a large woman in one of my yoga classes who’s stunningly gorgeous. She always wears brilliantly colored tights and splashy wild tanks. Her smile is equally brilliant. Her hugs are strong and lingering, full of connection.
It’s apparent to everyone near her that she’s having a blast in the body she lives in, right now. She’s powerful as hell. No postponing, no waiting.
And yes, by the way, she’s also in the process of creating a body more in alignment with what she wants to look like. But meanwhile? Rocking the wild tights, and reminding all of us in the room to do the same.
She’s a beautiful neon sign that says, “No Waiting. Real life being lived here now.”
Here’s to you, Sister, rocking your own version of crazy tights…!