Struggling with self-love? Try self-acceptance!
“The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others”– Dr. Sonya Friedman
Let’s talk about the seemingly difficult journey towards self-love and self-acceptance.
For some of you, the thought of loving your body is as far reached as you becoming a runway model tomorrow; it’s unrealistic, impossible and not within your reach.
Here’s the truth:
I’m here to say, that that’s ok. You don’t have to love your body to be able to reach a point of self-acceptance. You don’t have to look in the mirror each morning and tell yourself that you love yourself, but you do however, need to get up each morning and be grateful that the body you do have, has chosen to rise again.
Self- acceptance and loving your body are not the same thing:
Throughout the many years of the eating disorder I housed, I had a great body, it was slim, it was admired, it was complimented, but I didn’t like myself. I was angry at my inability to live normally, at my inability to eat without the hours following being consumed with calorie counting the day’s food in my head. I was angry at the binge eating, the secrecy, the obsession, the always needing to plan for the next meal or planning ways to purge. My mind body connection was completely out of alignment and my priorities were off.
I loved my body though, I was proud of how it looked, I was looking good, but my body existed very separately to me, as did the disorder. Now that I’m clean and living diet and restriction free, I have had to face the significant challenge of my body changing and the body consciousness that came along initially with those changes. My lean thighs are now softer and rounder, my bottom more plump and full, my arms wider, my once flat stomach now soft to the touch. My face has filled out, my cheek bones are no longer etched, my collar bones are less prominent, the compliments have largely gone. It’s been hard to accept, but it has gotten easier with time, and I can now say that I no longer suffer from negative body image, my self-esteem now comes from me, and I no longer need the validation of others for gratification and approval; I require this no more.
Living in harmony with yourself:
When my body and I came together to exist as one, I no longer saw myself just as the external me. I began to view myself through the eyes of my children. To them, I am kind, loving, funny, caring, understanding, sometimes silly, and a good listener. I began to view myself through the eyes of my friends. To them, I am engaging, caring, easy to talk to and fun to be around (even if I say so myself!). I realised that people didn’t change their perspective of me because my thighs were bigger or because the space I took up had increased, and if they did, it would be time to reassess that relationship.
So this is what I did:
I taught myself to focus on what my body can do. I adjusted my self-image. My entire life was spent hating my calves, hiding them, covering them at all costs, talking negatively about them. When my daughter came home last year complaining about hers at the age of 6, I realised that we both had amazing calves, they are strong and muscly and make us capable of so many things. Last year my legs allowed me to complete a 25km walk, and her legs allow her to skip and run and jump and play on a daily basis. Our legs are incredible.
My squishy bottom, pads my seat to perfection, its roundness making me feel like the woman I’m meant to be. My body is what it is, it has birthed 3 children, it has grown life! I thank my body and I appreciate my body, and for that, I choose to nurture it each and every day by trying to feed it what it needs, by eating foods that make me feel good, by moving it regularly because it feels great, not because it needs to be punished for a ‘bad’ meal. I’m also kinder to myself now, I’ve let go of guilt, of the need to punish myself for being human.
Wherever you are is okay:
Your road may only take you as far as body acceptance, and that’s ok. If the thought of body-love feels out of the question right now, know that it’s not the only path. Self-acceptance is perfectly fine.
Undoing self-hatred doesn’t happen overnight, but each day you can get a tiny bit closer. Moving away from negative body image to self-acceptance is a journey, but life isn’t a sprint; you have time. Rome wasn’t built in a day nor will you be rebuilt in a day. Just make sure you understand that you’re worth the time and the effort.
What are 3 things that others would say about you?
Read more about body image in this article: When your willpower is lost
Or join the Mirror Movement here: Mirror Movement Group