Have you dutifully been repeating I am beautiful and my skin is glowing (or whatever other affirmations and mantras you like) to the mirror each morning?
And if so, do you feel like you still haven't experienced any significant shift in your relationship with your body?
You're not alone. Changing your relationship to your body is tough work, and it's even more tough when you want to accomplish such a tremendous shift by talking to yourself in the mirror each morning.
While I'm not saying that affirmations never work, I am saying that they don't work for everyone. Specifically, here's something I've learned empirically while working with clients as a coach: unless you take focused action as a result of your daily affirmations then they're going to be nothing but words. As my mentor once told me, "Awareness without action is just awareness."
That's why I've put together this list of nine ways to take action, right now, to create a more loving relationship with your body.
1. Turn up the volume.
Put on some music you love, whatever genre you like, and close your eyes. Get quiet for a moment, and allow yourself to tune in to your body. Then consider the fact that you can experiment with truly letting go, and releasing self-judgment, even if for just a few moments.
Remember, personal growth is a practice, so give yourself permission to feel what you're feeling and allow your body to move the way it wants to. At the same time, hold space for experimentation! Invite the wild woman within to come forth and allow her to fully inhabit every cell in your body.
2. Get colorful.
On a weekend day (or whenever you aren't required to be at work), get some body-paint (make sure it's washable) and start decorating your body with them. Write loving messages, express gratitude, draw images that signify kindness, warmth and good energy for you. This is a great "right-brained," creative way to help you appreciate your body more and most importantly, to have fun with it, and in it!
3. Embrace getting dirty.
- Make or find a muddy puddle.
- Jump in it.
Simple, huh? Even if you aren't in a place where there's mud nearby, consider some ways that you might try getting "dirty." This could be an art or cooking project, though I'm partial to good old fashioned dirt-diggin' here. If that's available to you, get your feet in there. Mush. Squash. Make it squelch. Connect with the earth. Most important of all, connect with your body and get in touch with your more elemental impulses. Have a little fun!
4. Express some love ... to someone, anyone!
Have you ever written an anonymous love letter to a complete stranger? No? Well, it's about time. Sit down with a pen, a piece of paper and get ready to be amazed by how happy it will make you to tell others exactly how wonderful they are. Lovingly educate the receiver about why they should love their body, mind and spirit, and why they are so important to this world.
When you're done, pop the letter inside the envelope, write "For You" on the front, then pop it somewhere public for the first stranger to find. So simple. So powerful. So much fun. (Of course, you can also do this for a friend or family member — and even for yourself, if that resonates with you!)
5. Pretend you're in art class.
Make a full-body portrait of yourself! Yes, this exercise can be a bit challenging, both technically and emotionally. But it can also be a huge eye-opener, and heart-opener.
Ask yourself questions in the process, without judging your artistic ability. What body-part is the hardest (emotionally) to draw? What body-part is the easiest? How do you feel about what you see? Can you add something in your drawing to alter your initial feeling? Again, be creative: draw symbols, colors, flowers, animals and whatever else that you feel connected to.
6. Sing in the rain, sun, clouds, wherever!
You're basically tone-deaf? Who cares! Find a song that truly inspires you and that you know by heart and just sing the hell out of it.
Singing releases hormones that make you feel happy and fuzzy inside, regardless of whether you have a good singing voice or not. Oh, and singing with other people is even better! The point here is this: you only have one body, have fun in it while it lasts!
7. Give and get lots of hugs.
Hug a friend. Hug a kid. Hug a dog. Hug a rabbit. Hug your grandmother. Hug yourself. Hugging helps you relax and it even boosts your immune system. But more importantly, hugging makes you feel loved and feeling loved is a mighty nice feeling.
8. Love your food.
If you find that eating delicious food brings about feelings of guilt to you, then try this:
- Sit down on a chair with the food placed in front of you.
- Look at your food, observing and appreciating the particular things you notice, and feelings that come up.
- Meditate on it for a few seconds. Get in touch with gratitude.
Now, has your perspective changed a bit? Are you able to eat with a greater sense of freedom? If not, don't worry, this is a practice. Try it every day.
9. Challenge your muscles.
Don't let fear stand in the way to discover new ways to move your body. Learn something new. Do a handstand. A cart wheel. Whatever. Just learn to move in new ways and push your own limits without worrying about fitness or weight loss.
Your body is a powerful and intricate organism made up of billions of cells, working together with one single mission — to keep you alive and thriving. Becoming more body positive is, in its essence, about becoming aware of your wholeness.
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