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By Tasha McRae
When was the last time you walked by a mirror and complimented yourself? Most of us can’t remember a time, because it is so rare to be happy with our bodies. Typically, we disapprove of our reflection and notice the things we need to improve or change rather than celebrating the person we see in the mirror. You deserve a little love, especially from yourself. Here are 3 simple and proven ways to love yourself a little more each day; it all starts with loving your body.
Step 1: Stop bullying yourself.
If we had a tape recorder to document all the terrible things we say, mentally and out loud, about our bodies, we would be appalled at the level of bullying we subject ourselves to. We tell ourselves, we are fat, flabby, ugly, weak, frail, wrinkled, too tall, too short, too old and the list goes on. Not only do we tend to think negative thoughts about our bodies, but we also gossip about our bodies to others, letting them know how our bodies are deteriorating or failing us. Our knees are going, our waist is growing or our age is showing, sound familiar? Enough is enough, it’s time to put the bully in its place.
Make a conscious effort to catch yourself when your inner critic starts its rant. When you notice yourself thinking disparaging thoughts stop yourself and replace that thought with at least two kinder, gentler, more forgiving statements about yourself. Reframing your habitual negative thoughts can help change your perspective and improve the relationship you have with your body. Many people falsely believe, if they are not critical of themselves then they will become complacent and never strive for better. They feel that being kind to themselves is an acceptance of the status quo. But in truth, smack-talking yourself doesn’t inspire you, it beats you down. Being kinder to yourself allows you to make sound health decisions from a place of empowerment rather than from a place of shame and guilt. Speaking kindly about your body does not mean you can’t still change your health and strive for something different. It just means you take a different approach to motivate yourself. It’s not easy to undo years of social conditioning and self-critical thought, but it is worth it. As you practice putting your internal bully in its place, positive thoughts about yourself and your body will start to feel more natural.
Step 2: Be grateful for what you have.
One easy and not particularly time-consuming way to love your body is to develop an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude allows us to find the joy in our bodies as they are, in this moment, rather than looking towards a future condition for satisfaction and happiness. Start to love your body by recognizing one thing you can be grateful for about it each day. You might be grateful for your hands which allow you to hold a loved one. Or perhaps, you are grateful for your legs that allowed you to run your errands. Even if it seems small and insignificant, find something to love about yourself every day. Pick a specific time when you will engage in this practice. It might be at dinnertime or right before you go to bed. Cueing this new habit with a specific event in your day makes it easier to adopt.
Step 3: Take care of your body. It takes care of you.
Our bodies are the most amazing thing we will ever own, but we don’t always treat it like our most valuable possession. Think of the times you have abused or neglected your body by over-eating, over-drinking, not getting enough sleep or not resting when you’re sick. Yet your body keeps showing up for you every day. Perhaps not in the picture-perfect way you would hope for, but your heart keeps beating and your lungs keep breathing giving you an opportunity to live your life. When you start to recognize all that your body does for you, taking care of it no longer feels like a chore, it becomes a labor of love. Getting adequate exercise, eating well, and ensuring quiet time for relaxation and rest gets easier.
Your body is a marvel, so ensure that you are giving it the love it deserves. Speak to yourself the way you would speak to a dear friend or loved one. Be grateful for the ways your body shows up for you each day and next time you walk by the mirror, notice the beauty in your smile not the wrinkles around your eyes.