This section on body love is two-fold. First, the practical reality of choosing to do the right thing consistently enough to honour your body and be fit and well.
Second, getting clean on how you think about your body. Both can be massive sources of stress and unhappiness; one from actual ill-health or incapacity, and the other from chronically low self-esteem and body image. Which has the capacity to hurt us more? It seems to me that we tend to cope with health crises when they occur: an infrequent panic situation where we have the surgery, take the medication, take the time off work to heal. We then move past the health crisis.
We put it behind us.
Poor body image however - that's something we can carry all day, every day for almost the whole of our lives. We don't know how to put it down, to shrug it off. It can colour how we feel about ourselves from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed, for our whole life. In terms of the pain consequence, this can often be a far greater barrier to happiness.
Unpacking body image is huge. I have to confess I'd like to call time on the whole self-hating thing that the last few generations of women have got themselves trapped in.
It does not serve us well. We are our own worst critics and those critical words, whispered so often to ourselves that they feel like truth, destroy self-confidence and suck joy from the everyday.
The cosmetics brand Dove did a cool experiment with body image and how we are our own harshest critics. It's called real body sketches and it's fascinating.
You can watch it on my facebook page, it's really thought-provoking.
Let's dig a little deeper into body image. Try this exercise for me right now:
What's the name of your best friend? _________________________
Tell me what she looks like: ___________________________________________________________
Nice. And now you darling, what do you look like?
What will generally happen here is that you will default to the positive when describing your friend. You are more likely to mention her sparkling blue eyes than her less-than-toned tummy. Why? Because you love her. You can see what is beautiful about her in an instant. You know she is not perfect, but you do not expect her to be. You intuitively default to the kindest, most compassionate description.
Different story when it comes to ourselves right? We can tend to default to the negative. We are far more likely to mention the bingo wings than the perky boobs. We focus on the flaws. We are frustrated by the lack of perfection. In short, we do not meet ourselves with much self-love or compassion.
Women of New Zealand, let's stop this madness right now! Let's be as kind to ourselves as we are to the ones we love. Let's extend the same courtesy to ourselves that we do to those around us. Call your girlfriend today and tell her what you just wrote about her. Say "I just want you to know for when you are having a fat day or a down day that you are beautiful. If you saw yourself through my eyes this is what you would see", and read her your description. Or email it so she can tape it to the bathroom mirror to be constantly reminded to meet herself with compassion and focus on the positive.
We owe it to each other and to ourselves to stop the war against ourselves. Who's with me?