How I Changed My Feelings About My Body

Isn’t it strange how the lives of others can sometimes affect our own?  A friend of mine recently had a ‘milestone’ birthday, which got me thinking and reassessing my life in lots of ways, probably because I too will be experiencing one of those ‘milestone’ birthdays, soon! Anyway, there’s no denying it, I’ve recognised lately that I’ve become aware that I am carrying around some very unwanted extra weight. So I started to think that it was about time I did something about it, but the more I recognised and acknowledged this part of me, the more I also noticed that I was beginning to become unaccepting of my body, and of what I was viewing in the mirror. I began to experience some negative thoughts when I looked at myself and I really didn’t like how that felt at all. All this then left me wondering which I didn’t like most, feeling negative, or feeling and looking over-weight. Then I realised there was another facet to those thoughts, which was feeling negative about myself, and that felt so much worse than just experiencing a negative thought, which I could usually, with a little bit of focus, turnaround to feel more positive. However, this was so much bigger, and I realised that’s because I was attached to it. It already seemed to have gathered some momentum. Initially, I felt as if it had crept up on me when I wasn’t looking or paying attention, but the more I thought about that, I realised that just wasn’t true.

I thought a little deeper, and I remembered that I had experienced fleeting negative thoughts as I rushed to get ready for work in a morning and caught sight of myself in the mirror, or when I felt uncomfortable in my trousers and I had to go out and buy a bigger size. It’s also true that I had been blaming the extra weight that I was supporting on the fact that I had my last two children later in life and had found it more difficult to resurrect my slim figure after giving birth to my youngest daughter. When I was younger losing ‘baby weight’ had been like falling off a log, I never had to do much at all because the weight simply fell off, and within a couple of months or so I was back to my normal slim self, but that hadn’t happened after my last two babies, and as time moved on I had simply ignored all those little signs. I had just shoved them to the back of my mind and tried to bury them, and as my body slowly morphed into its larger shape I had also quietly begun to morph my thoughts. There had been times, over the past few years that I had looked at my diet more and had a bit of a curb on sweet and sugary treats and foods, and had an awareness of high fat foods, but I had never really seemed to get a on grip on it all, and clearly, some negativity had been slowly growing within me and aimed towards my body. I was definitely out of love with it. So I have been looking at self-love and self-appreciation and what it all actually means, and found myself wondering, and asking myself what do I really think and feel about myself.

It was amazing what began to come up – I noticed how I loved so many things in my life and felt so blessed, and that I had so many wonderful loving people in my life. I could clearly see how beautiful my world was, just looking at a beautiful blue sky and hearing the bird’s cheeping and singing in the distance, and knowing how wonderful I felt when I thought about the beauty of the countryside and the beach, but, on the other hand, also noticing how my feelings changed when I thought about how I looked these days. I also noticed that I was proud of my achievements and recognised that I was skilled and talented in many ways, and very creative, which I love about myself, but I felt very different when I thought about my body, and knew that I didn’t like what I was seeing each day in the mirror. Now that was a strange phenomenon for me, as I had always tried to be accepting of how my body was changing as I got older, and tried not to get too hung up about my weight, but I realise now that I had just been suppressing the negative thoughts that I had, that they had been there all along. So it was time to focus on my body in a new way. I knew that if I wanted to feel better and to change how I looked and to know, really know, and feel, really feel, fit and healthy then I needed to change my thinking. I decided there had to be something good, it couldn’t all hinge on what I saw when I looked in the mirror.

 I thought back over my life and thought about how my body isn’t just about how it looks, it’s about so much more, and that was it, I found the key, MY key, the key for ME – the key to unlocking MY gratitude for MY body.  

I realised that my body isn’t just its size and its shape, my body means life, breath; my body has given ME life. A life full of experiences, some good, some not so, but experiences that have helped me grow and become the woman I am today.

My body has so beautifully and so naturally helped me nurture, grow and give birth to my children, and to know the thankful thoughts of safely delivering, strong and healthy babies and so too the pain of loss of the children that I had tried to grow strong, those that I never held, but that remain loving parts of me in my mind and my heart, and all part of MY experience of the love and joy of motherhood, and the loving appreciation I have for all my children.  For I know it is in those differences, those opposites, that true appreciation is born. Losing a child and all of its accompanying pain eventually opened my heart to more love than I could have imagined.

I am so grateful that my body has so many wonderful innate healing powers; yes I am calling them powers, because when I consider just how my body has healed itself I am still filled with amazement and a deep sense of gratitude. When I look at my arms and my hands and I feel the beautiful softness of my skin, and I see how good it looks, I am reminded of just how my body has so beautifully healed itself after I scolded myself quite severely a few years ago. When I consider all the cuts and bruise, and broken bones I have had over the years, especially as a child, and how quickly and easily they have all healed and left no trace other than memories of the more profound ones in my mind, probably only remembered because individually they were fraught with pain.

When I think of all the intricacies and different parts of my body that just get on with their job every moment of every day, not needing anything from me, other than a little TLC, I can’t help but feel gratitude. My eyes give me the opportunity to see our beautiful world and revel in the splendour of its colour and be amazed at its magnificence. They help me watch my beautiful grandchildren grow and help me share in the experience of their lives. My body, through my ears, helps me hear beautiful sounds that we may often take for granted, I can communicate and converse, form friendships and grow and nurture new ideas. It helps me feel and touch and sense, taste and live my life.

My body has helped me see and experience contrast; it has taken care of me and grown with me. I CAN choose how I feel about my body. I can remember different emotions about it at different times in my life. I can choose to focus on all the good things about my body and feel grateful and appreciative of all the good my body has given me, and that my body and I are fit and healthy, strong and full of joy and motivated to be the best that we can be, together.

Until Next Time,

Elaine

©Elaine W Shaw  2016

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