Being grateful for your body- Sounds like vanity? Or perhaps it is such an abstract concept to you that you feel like laughing. Why would I be grateful for a body that I am never satisfied with?
Believe me, I get it. As a teenager, and then again, as a young woman, I was led to believe that my body was the reason and somehow responsible for sexual abuse. That it was something to be ashamed of, I had learned many years before I became a woman, through what the church wanted me to believe. It was my bodies fault that men behaved like this toward me, it was shameful. This manifested itself later on in life in toxic relationships- I.e. are you really going to wear that?!’- and was a huge contributor to my struggle with bulimia.
I hated my body, I wanted to destroy it, it was the source of all evil and I should be hiding it. Being in my own skin made me physically sick.
I have a daughter now, and more than ever, it has become important to me how I speak and feel about my body. And not just in front of her, but also to my son, so that both of them know their worth and how they deserve to be treated. Whether you have children or not, are a man or a woman- the way you think and speak about your body affects how you treat yourself and your notion of self-worth. This makes it so important to practice gratitude towards your body. Let’s face it- there will always be someone who is prettier, skinnier, more athletic and overall better physically than you are. Let’s get away from the image of what we think we should look like and take the body as what it is- it is our home, and the skin we live in.
You will not hear me say that I am grateful for how pretty I am. But you will hear me say that I am grateful for my lips, as they have a smile that lights up the world of the three most important people in my life.
But how did I get to that point? How can we change the narrative and go from the negative feelings towards our body to feelings of gratefulness? Start by acknowledging its’ amazing functionality and capabilities: The feet that carry the whole weight of us, the legs that take us from one place to the next. The arms that let us hug the ones we love and care about and the hands that help us reach out to others. The head sitting firmly on our shoulders (sometimes more, sometimes less screwed on 😉). The eyes that allow us to see the world in all its glory and the ears that hear the sounds around us. The body that carries babies well beyond pregnancy.
The list is endless.
Of course we are allowed to- and should!- appreciate the things we like about ourselves. When I feel particularly down, I start a gratitude journal where I start with listing five things that I am grateful for. My body is always one of them. And from there I acknowledge the things I like about myself- my legs, the color of my eyes, etc. After just a few days, the list is so long that it takes me about half an hour every night to get through all the things I am grateful for and what I like about myself. This makes me appreciate my body and my self-esteem rises and lifts me out of the destructive hole I dug myself in.
Take the time to appreciate all the amazing things your body does, and then, try to list two things a day that you like about your body.
And then watch how you change in front of your own eyes. What an amazing body to be grateful for! I am a co-founder of Soul Space- a yoga teacher for adults, families and children and a nutrition and weight management advisor, working with the concept of mindful eating. You can find out more about me here.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder or have truly harmful thoughts against yourself and/or your body please seek professional help. We are always happy to recommend specialists and professionals in the field.