I listen to women a lot. Not just because it’s my job as a therapist, but out in the world. People tend to see me as extroverted, but the truth is I am an introvert at heart.
I like to listen, and observe, staying in my own energies is comfortable and less disruptive to me. Because I tend to watch and listen, at the market, or in a store, I hear the themes that dominate talk among women and girls. I know you won’t find it surprising that talk of bodies and weight dominates many exchanges.
I listen with both sadness and anger when I hear women talk about their bodies. There is a kind of madness inherent in the way women overtly hate their bodies. I am not referring just to my clients who are in pain around their eating disorders, or feeling out of control around food and other pieces of their lives. There is insanity and ugliness in our willingness to betray our spirits, even in the most casual of conversations.
What does it mean, that women betray themselves so regularly and without awareness? How can we possibly live with such hatred of ourselves without paying the price?
We can’t. There is a cost for our endless dissatisfaction with our bodies. Living in a culture where women compare themselves to each other leaves us disconnected from our wholeness, from our essential selves. We are lost within this splitting apart of all of our pieces. We are not embodied. We cannot feel love for the self, and so not for others. We miss out on any kind of true pleasure or intimacy.
The energies of the Divine Feminine are where our intuition and other gifts of knowing come from. When we dissect all of our parts, and don’t nurture the whole with loving attention, when we stop honoring our unique form and expression in the world, we are cut off from receiving the quiet guidance of our Inner Wise Woman.
This leaves us at the mercy of external guidance- the culture, the media, religion- places which hold the Patriarchal view of women, which further shames us and tells us all of the ways in which we are not good enough.
Body-hatred is only a part of where we have abandoned and betrayed ourselves, but it is a concrete and specific place where we can begin to pivot our consciousness to heal ourselves, and maybe even society’s view of women.
This is a good place to journal (you knew that was coming, right?!). What are your most common negative thoughts about your body? Are there specific body parts that you reject and bring negative attention to regularly?
Notice what you say about these parts, or your weight, your size, or the other places that you choose to disconnect from. See if you can simply observe how it feels to criticize and condemn these parts. Notice if there is a certain emotion that comes up as you label yourself, and separate yourself from your body. Stay with the feeling for a moment, and just notice where it is in your body- where is that negative emotion, see if you can feel where you are holding it.
Now, see what happens if instead of all of this disapproval, dislike, criticism that you feel for this part of your body, if you soften those voices, and bring love in, instead. One way to do this is to connect with your heart’s energy- think about or bring your attention into your heart-center. See if you become aware of a soft, gentle love that is the essence of the heart. Let yourself breathe it in, imagine the loving energy of the heart permeating all of your cells in the body.
What does that feel like?
Remember that nothing really can change when we are in resistance, or throwing negative thoughts and energies at our bodies, or ourselves. Change comes in on the tides of love and compassion. Inner guidance and intuition can only be heard when you are open, and not resisting.
All of your wellness, healing and happiness come when you own all of your pieces, the good and the imperfect, in your unique wholeness. You will then live in connection with your Intuitive Body, which will generously provide you with all of the answers you are looking for. Beautiful.
With love from my heart .. to yours-
Sue Burness says
Love this, Laura. Comparing ourselves to others in terms of our bodies, our businesses, our relationships, leads to judgement. Of us, of them. What if we just learned to accept ourselves and everybody else? If there’s a fundamental acceptance, THEN we can look at the changes we’d like to implement.
HI Sue.. it’s ok.. you can call me whatever comes out of your typing fingers. I know you know me! Yeah.. it all has to start with the essentials.. love, acceptance.. a relaxed way of being with ourselves.. giving up the fight.. Sometimes it amazes me at how hard it has become for most of us. Small shifts and refusing to join in the mass consciousness make a huge difference.. love to you- Lisa (or Laura..)
Sue Burness says
Yikes! No idea why my fingers typed “Laura”!! Lisa 🙂
Bri Saussy says
So true Lisa! i was reading an article earlier this week that was addressing these same issues-but of course as it was published in a mainstream media context it did not really offer workable solutions as you do-so glad you do what you do! Hatred of any part of ourselves is yet one more way we become sacred, scarred, and dis-enfranchised from our own lives-any and all measure to address it should be taken!
hi Bri.. rereading your comment and wonder if you meant to write “sacred” or scared.. and loved it either way.. But clearly hatred has no place around our beautiful bodies.. no matter how much we want to believe that it does..
Love to you my friend.. Lisa
Theresa | The Tarot Lady says
Awesome post, Lisa. Self loathing our bodies dishonors our spirits. Our bodies are temples – would you walk into a temple and desecrate it or make rude remarks? I doubt it. Yet we do this to our bodies every day. If we are taught to cherish and look at our bodies with awe (because they are amazing), imagine the difference….
Theresa.. so so true.. what would we throw that kind of hurtful destructive energy at in the chronic way we do around virtually anything else??? I can’t think of really another example with which we indulge this kind of crazy negative judgment.. it’s very sad.. and a really bad habit that just needs to be stopped. love to you- Lisa
Lisa, when I read the title on this one, I knew it would be good — and I’m never disappointed at your blog! I love the journaling prompts. Have you seen http://endfattalk.org/? Also, I want to encourage moms especially to watch what they say about and how they treat their own bodies in front of their daughters — it’s powerful in little eyes and ears. I love the work you do…keep going!
Inga Deksne says
Thanks Lisa! Your article radiates love!
I agree with you completely. We need to treat ourselves with love and care, and lovingly accept our bodies. There are many people who are ready to criticize us, so we shouldn’t join them.
I love and accept my body the way it is, and in the beginning it stopped me from exercising aka there is no point in losing weight if I like what I see. Now loving myself is the greatest motivator to work out regularly, bringing more energy to my body.
this is my favorite quote “…Change comes in on the tides of love and compassion. Inner guidance and intuition can only be heard when you are open, and not resisting.”
oh my goodness, these are such true words. I think that body hatred causes a disconnect as well … in order to maintain those thoughts and words, you cannot be connected to who you are.
We did this experiment about positive and negative talk: http://alifeprofound.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/positive-energy-begets-positive-energy/
Basically we spoke negative and positive words to jars of cooked rice. The jar that received the negative energy became compacted, slimy and moldy while the jar that received positive energy stayed fresh and loose.
I thought to myself what negative talk can do to the body?! Do I want the cells in my body to be compacted, slimy and moldy? It really changed how I spoke of myself (and others of course)
Sammi Johnson says
Feeling good about ourselves brings out the best in us. It’s good to acknowledge our flaws sometimes because it makes us aware that we have to do something about it, but we should never ever beat ourselves up too much about it. Thank you for reminding us that we are always beautiful no matter what everyone says… xoxo
Marita Rahlenbeck says
Thank you for sharing a truth that is Universal…. As you say, Beautiful. Yes, indeed.
Leah Shapiro says
Lisa…self-acceptance is so important!
I talk a lot about making your self wrong and seeing yourself as flawed- not loving who you are- this is another aspect of it.
Great tips for shifting this energy too!
thanks Leah…I know you write about these themes also.. love your work. xox