The First Pillar: Whole-Self Love (Part 3- Loving the Body You Live In)

What would it look like for you to take your relationship with your body to the next level?

What if I told you that you could love the body that you live in, exactly as it is? YES- without losing/gaining weight, changing your hair, or altering your external image in any way. Imagine what it would feel like to stop being angry at it, disappointed in it, embarrassed by it, afraid of it, or ashamed of it.

I am not going to pretend that this is an easy, 2-step process or that I have a magic potion that will instantly take you from Loathe to Love. You won’t be hearing from me that you have go through some hard-ass Boot Camp to break yourself down first in order to build yourself back up. I am also not going to bullshit you with the claim that “all” you have to do is change your mindset (HELLO, changing your mindset is not like switching a light on or off!) We are much more complex than that and our stories require us to move forward with nuance and care. But I will tell you the truth that it absolutely IS possible and that you CAN learn to truly Love the body that you live in.

It’s also true that you will still experience some highs and some lows; you will still have moments when you slip back into old ways of thinking before you catch yourself and get your booty back on your positive path. I sure do, anyway, and I’ve been practicing Whole-Self Love for more than a decade! It is a life’s work that is well worth every ounce of energy that you put into it, every tear, every journal entry, every layer of pain/drama/lies/ peeled away.

Knowing that… Would you be willing to trade embarrassed for empowered?

Could you dare to swap disappointed in for devoted to?

Can you see the possibility for you and your body to have a positive relationship with each other?

Hallmarks of a Loving Relationship With Your Body

Any strong relationship will have some hallmarks that make it stand apart from more casual acquaintances. It’s no different for cultivating a loving connection with your body. Here are 5 key areas to consider:

  • Awareness & Clarity
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Support System
  • Fun!

Awareness & Clarity

Who do you think you are? Awareness & Clarity points to having an honest, true understanding of who you are, what your body is, and how the two of you are going to move through the rest of your life together. One of my favorite tools for this is what I call the Look Deeper Mirror Experiment. This means having the courage to really see yourself as a Divine, sovereign, intelligent being, and your body as both a unique entity and as the temporary housing and vehicle through which you are experiencing life as a Person. To do this, Strip down to your bare-naked self and face yourself in the mirror. Start with your eyes; look into them- really get in deep! You may be tempted to look away, but don’t. What do you feel? Nervous, scared, sad, surprised? Don’t pull away from the feelings, notice them, acknowledge them, follow them. They are clues to Who you are, Where you need healing, and What your body most wants from you. Next, notice everything that you like about your physical body. Send some love, appreciation and kind words from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. When/If you start going down that tired old path of self-criticism and the list of bits and parts you wish looked different, STOP. Remind yourself then and there that you are on a new path now, and that you are learning how to Love yourself. Your WHOLE self.

If you want to experience the positive transformation and deep healing that comes from a Whole-Self Love practice, I recommend having a loving conversation with yourself every day, and a kind word for yourself every time you see yourself in the mirror. At the very least, how about no more actively hating the person looking back at you? That’s a good place to start!

Commitment

Commitment is about making the choice to stay, stick with, and work at something. It’s having the quality of dedication, and it shows up in people who are trustworthy, loyal, honorable. Making a commitment to care for yourself and to love yourself, doesn’t mean that you are being narcissistic or selfish. Far from it. In fact, by committing to love yourself and the body that you live in helps to develop your autonomy and your ability to care for and love the people around you more authentically and with healthy boundaries.

Another favorite tool is writing a Love Letter to Your Body. If you’ve never tried this, you may be surprised by how powerful this can be! You can write it in any way that suits you, whether it’s a narrative or a list or a stream of consciousness or a sonnet. You don’t have be an eloquent writer and you don’t have to show it to anybody; it’s really just another way to reveal and encounter more of your truest self. For an example of one I wrote a while back, click here.

Developing a self-love practice takes some time. It takes some thoughtfulness and intention, and it takes a commitment. It takes some courage to break free from the negative scripts and internal dialogue, and to rebel against the culture of body shaming. But every bit of effort that you put into it is precious and creates a more positive relationship and connection to your true Self, which in turn leads to a more satisfying and happy life.

Communication

Having good communication is one of the most important components of any successful relationship, so now that you’ve taken steps towards Awareness, Clarity, and Commitment it stands to reason that having good Communication with your body is key to cultivating this positive relationship. Where are you at with this? How well do you pay attention to your body signals, and what do you do with them? For example:

  • FOOD– Do you eat when you’re hungry? Do you know which foods are most nourishing and supportive to your body, and which ones to avoid because they are causing you pain? Do you find food & eating in general to be tricky and triggering? This is a HUGE area of challenge for so many of us. Over the years I have worked with dieticians, nutritionists, health coaches, WW, etc and have had varying degrees of success. None of them have helped me to change my unhealthy relationship with food until I began Noom. For me, it was the exact kind of support that I had been missing. I have an affiliate link that will get you 20% off if when you sign up for their program: Click Here
  • SLEEP– Do you let yourself rest whenever you’re feeling tired? Do you give yourself enough sleep each day? When your head hits the pillow, does your brain fight with your exhausted body, or do you drift off into a blissful slumber? I have always been a vivid dreamer (good and bad) and since childhood have been able to remember them upon waking. For years, particularly after surviving some major traumatic events in my early 20’s I suffered from nightmares, night terrors, and insomnia. It wasn’t until I finally began to address the underlying stresses and traumas I was carrying (hello, therapy!) that I could return to giving my body good sleep on a regular basis. Now, whenever I have some unresolved issues that keep me up at night, I know how to handle them.
  • PAIN– How do you respond to pain in your body? Do you ignore it, numb it, push through it? Do you get mad at it, or get angry at your body? I recently shared through my Facebook group, Transformational Positivity, about a breakthrough regarding my response to injuring my back: “Whoooo am I working on this one for sure! I mysteriously injured my upper back yesterday morning and my first response was anything but loving. I was Mad! 😡 I was SO angry at it. 🤬 It actually shocked me how much rage I felt towards the pain in my body. So what did I do after the unhelpful yelling? • Slow, mindful, deep breaths • Concentrated on relaxing the seized muscle • Verrrrrrry gentle stretching • Let [my fiance] help me • Heating pad • Cold cloth • REST • Lots of water, juice • Advil • Recognize that being mad at my body was not a loving or helpful response to it being in need, but was instead abusive and a very old pattern that I am working to replace with kindness & support.”

These are just 3 of many areas where it’s valuable to be in good communication with your body. Essentially, what you want to do to cultivate better communication for a more loving relationship with the body you live in is to listen to your body and actively meet its needs. Understand that our bodies are designed to change throughout our entire life. Pay attention to when your body’s needs change, and adapt your care routine accordingly.

Support System

Having a strong Support System is vital to the health of your new, positive relationship with your body. After all, up until now you’ve likely been firmly ensconced within the destructive, oppressive body-shaming culture that is fueled by the diet industry, fashion industry, cosmetics industry, the social media & entertainment industries, pharmaceutical companies, Westernized religion and the patriarchal, puritanical system that rules it all. Having the audacity to radically love yourself is to effectively stick your middle fingers straight up at it all. That kind of courage requires that you have people in your corner who get it, who understand and can hold space for you to learn, process, and grow in your healthy, positive relationship to your Self and your body.

You need to have people in your life who support you as a person, people you can turn to when you need advice and guidance as well as when you want to celebrate. Ideally, you want to have people like this who you can connect with in person as well as through phone, text, email, or even public & private social media groups. I would love to be part of your support team, whether through my 1:1 Soul-Mirroring Sessions, Spiritual Clarity Readings, or as part of my free Facebook group. If you’re not already on my mailing list, join today and get a free gift as well as a Weekly Positivity Boost from me, straight to your inbox.

FUN!

The last area I want to look at is that special not-so-secret ingredient that makes successful relationships stand out above all the rest: FUN! It’s the same with your relationship with your body.

FUN can look like anything from adrenaline-pumping sports and high-energy physical activities to quiet meditative walks in Nature or relaxing on a sunny beach. It can be found through artistic expression, creativity, dance, making music, writing poetry or enjoying your favorite shows. FUN can be sexual intimacy with your partner or a private, solo exploration of what feels great and turns you on. FUN can be hanging out with a few good friends, playing with your kids or grandchildren, walking your dog or watching funny cat videos. This is obviously not an exhaustive list- the point is that FUN is something that every human desires and deserves to experience. Also, it’s good to note that what may sound like a great time for me might be either too wild or too tame for you, and that’s perfect. You do You, Boo.

You could go through your life being miserable and not having any fun whatsoever, but why do that when you have a world of opportunities to explore?

Like Before Love

If you’ve read all the way through and feel as though Self-Love is still a little too far away for you, but you are willing to try somethingstart with a Like List. A “Like List” is a list of all the things that you like about yourself. It should include as many positive attributes about yourself that you can possibly come up with in each of these 4 categories- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The Like List is something that you can add to at any time, or make a new one anytime you want to.

If you find that you don’t know where to start, ask your best friends to help you. ONLY ask the people who you trust and who have proven themselves to be kind, not critical! You may be very pleasantly surprised at the good things that others can so easily see in you. With a little practice, you can begin to start seeing, appreciating, liking and even loving these qualities that all help to make you You.

Michelle Lewis (she/her/they) is the creator & founder of The Blessings Butterfly, a holistic coaching & energy healing practice that is teaching people to live a life that they love. She is a writer, speaker, energy witch/healer, and author of the Amazon bestselling positive affirmation books, The Blessings Butterfly and The Blessings Butterfly Having worked hard for decades to overcome severely traumatic events that began in her early childhood and repeated in painful, looping patterns well into her adult life, Michelle is passionate about using her gifts and wisdom in bringing hope and healing to millions. This is more than “mindset hacks” and “Pollyanna” positivity. Through the work of what she calls Transformational Positivity, Michelle helps her clients to get clear on where to shift their thoughts and actions, while dismantling the culture of toxic positivity.