There is one word to describe how to love your body forever. And that one word is:
Oprah describes forgiveness as “giving up the hope that the past could be any different”.
What has that got to do with loving our bodies? LOADS & LOADS!
Most of us have some terrible body image memories that have affected that voice in our heads that tell us we are fat, weak, ugly, hairy, generally not good enough etc. etc. Those stories that go round and round in our heads are just that – stories.
Your body’s job is not to be perfect, but to be the vehicle for your life, your dreams, your purpose.
And so, the first step to letting that little monster in your head go is to forgive anyone that has helped create him (or her) including (and especially) yourself.
Here is an exercise you can do to help remove that little bugger from your head. This might be a bit painful, so make sure you have some tissues and a nice soothing cup of tea near by. Play some gorgeous music and burn some candles. And grab your favourite journal and your sparkliest pens. I promise it will be worth it.
- Write down any major life events that resulted in feelings of anger, resentment, shame or embarassment about your body (i.e your earliest memories about your body, things parents said, what your family thought “good bodies” were, illness, accidents, abuse, memories from school, getting dressed up for special occasions, times when your body wasn’t treated well or you treated your own body badly).
- Next write down body memories from the gym, playing sport or fitness classes (i.e. when you felt shame or you didn’t know what to do, personal trainers that “fat shamed” you, being mistreated by staff, umpires, coaches, team mates etc).
- Then write down body image memories from your past relationships (i.e. your exes and their attitudes to your body, discussions or arguments around health/fitness/taking care of your body, times you gave away your power around your body, resentments, hurts, anything you are still angry about).
- Think about friendships and any body image memories related to them (i.e. situations when your friends had better bodies than you or lived an effortlessly healthy lifestyle, judgments or arguments about bodies or health, times you felt judged about your body or health).
- Now write down any body memories related to yourself (i.e. mistakes you made about your health, bad investments in health/fitness, messages you’ve picked up and kept from others or movies/tv/magazines, beliefs you have around thin/fat people, judgements you’ve made towards others and their bodies, anything else you feel guilty about)
- Finally, write down all the other things you are angry, resentful, ashamed about in regards to body image (i.e. magazines & advertising, photo shop, tv/movies. the patriarchy, the Kardashians etc…oooops maybe they are just on my list!)
How are you feeling so far? Because that is a lot…. Take a deep breath because there is more…
Now start looking for patterns. The patterns I found in my body image memories were:
- It is my fault I have had health problems, and those problems have held me back in life
- My belly is too big and no one wants a personal trainer with a big belly
- Looking perfect will result in a perfect life
- The world values beauty over anything else
And now it’s time to forgive every single memory and every person related to that memory. Please know that I am not saying that you are condoning behaviour or saying it didn’t hurt. But we are going to go back to Oprah’s advice and say that we are letting go of the past being any different. Holding out hope for things to change in the past is fruitless and weighs us down. This process will help lighten your load.
To forgive each memory, read it out loud, think of the person in the memory and say
I forgive you, I’m sorry, Thank you, I love you.
Then cross out the memory and move onto the next one,
This comes from ho’oponopono, a Hawaiian healing & clearing technique. We say, I forgive you for obvious reasons, I’m sorry because you might be sorry for that person or maybe you had a hand in the memory so you are sorry (especially if it’s things you did to yourself), Thank you because the past has made us who we are today and I love you because all living creatures deserve love and compassion.
Finally, reframe your beliefs. If one of your common themes is your health issues have held you back then reframe it in a positive way. Watch me do this for my body image beliefs below.
And now take some positive action.
How can you start living those reframes? Is it telling yourself you are awesome every morning in the mirror. Is it looking after your body beautifully by eating well or taking up a new exercise program? Could you book in a regular beauty appointment?
This is a huge thing you’ve just done for yourself. You may feel sad, happy, lighter, heavier. Just sit with the feelings or journal through them. But you have definitely let some baggage go.
Think about doing this again in a few months. I promise you your list will be shorter because you’ve processed some of the memories and they are no longer weighing you down.
And tell me in the comments section, how are you feeling? Did you have a big a-ha? What action will you take? I would love to hear from you.
If you would like to learn more about truly loving your body and looking after it beautifully then join The Body Love Bootcamp – a 12-week private coaching program all about taking care of yourself the way your amazing body deserves. This Forgiveness method is just one module of the program. So if you are ready to let go of the punishing your body for not being perfect and want to learn to love your body and nurture it just as it is, then learn more about the programme here.