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Body Beautiful

By heatherferreiracole, Sep 19 2014 08:50AM

I have been finding it increasingly interesting lately how we relate to our own bodies. I don’t think I am alone in expecting my body to keep up with my decisions and my actions. The punishing routines I have put my body through - not in terms of exercise - but in terms of hangovers, caffeine overdoses, smoking, night after night of incredibly small amounts of sleep, high tension due to prolonged stressful situations and yet the first sign of illness or bodily pain and I grumble “I don’t have time for this! Not again!” Because for some reason I have this expectation that my body is there to serve me. It should be able to cope with my every beck and call.

The only time I felt that my body was calling the shots was when I was pregnant and I was literally taken over by my body’s needs. My body was in control for what felt like the first time in my life and I felt what my body potentially feels every single non-pregnant day of my life – helpless and neglected.

So my relationship with my body isn’t one of harmony. It is either/or, the extreme ends of the spectrum. It is clearly not based on respect but rather on abuse that demands compliance.

Weight issues are a can of worms in therapy as it is very rarely a matter of ‘just’ controlling your food in-take. Our body image is another way into our psyches, another way of viewing our relationship with ourselves. The main problem with excess weight is that it feels like it is visible to the whole world, you are wearing your 'problem' on the outside of yourself. It isn’t like other issues which can be hidden away, this is the one that you parade around in every day of your life, the one that makes you avoid looking in the mirror, the one that causes you to eat more because, quite frankly, what is the point? You are just never going to be that person.

And I wonder if it is enough to say that we are nutritionally ignorant or lazy in this day and age when we know the ins and outs of the workings of the latest gadgets and yet we still can’t quite reach into what makes our own bodies thrive. Can it really be that simple that we can’t be bothered? Or is it potentially masking a form of self-hatred? An underlying feeling that you weren’t worth caring about at one point in your life, which at some deep level is potentially too difficult to face in the present day.

If this feels a little too out there as a theory then maybe just experiment, stand in front of the mirror naked and then listen to the words that come to your mind. Are they kind and compassionate? Or are they critical and judgmental? You see, I wonder if we are in avoidance of the true issue and that maybe, just maybe we literally feed that self-hatred in order to keep it suppressed, to keep those feelings at bay so you can go on ‘enjoying life’. Does the simple psychological origin of lack manifest into the physically tangible opposite?

Society today appears to be obsessed with our exteriors, who looks great and how do they look great. How many creams, gels, waxes etc. can you invest in to help in that direction to making your externals all the more appealing to whoever might be watching. But if you really look at someone, very often the most beautiful part of a person lies in the kindness in their eyes or the freshness of their skin, the sound of their laughter when something really tickles them or quite simply their ability to be completely present in the moment that they are with you. If only we really saw beauty from this point of view we would then be helping each other fill the void. Unfortunately instead we tend to try and treat the inner psychology of lack with more lack through diets, control and general daily misery as we battle with our willpower over our own cries for love.

How many times do we take time out to love the body we have been living with for all of our lives, the body that is uniquely ours? And so what if we were to reverse the position and treat our bodies like we would a great friend who had just returned from a long trip away? Almost everyone has noticed how delighted babies are when they first find their hands and their feet. We don’t need to squeal every time we get out of bed, however we could spend a moment of appreciation for our muscles, our skin, our feet, our toes and see the beauty and the miracle in their existence as we walk with them through life as our closest companion, our best friends – warts and all. We could listen to our bodies and really try and hear what they are trying to tell us because each part of us plays a vital role in keeping us safe and nurtured on a daily basis. Maybe just simply stopping and taking time to be grateful for our bodies would mean we could grow to love them and therefore as an amazing by product we could then love ourselves just that little bit more.

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