Leave Body Image Self-Criticism Behind Through Self-Compassion
Awareness is noticing the internal dialogue going on in our mind about body image and the even subtler sensations in our body that point to shame and self-criticism. Many of us have grown up in a culture where our weight and appearance have been a topic of an ongoing external conversations that became internalized. These messages come from relatives, friends, people we come into contact with, and the media. It’s a huge task to notice all the ways body image messages are informing our day-to-day activity, and it’s the topic of a whole book, so I don’t have the space for it here. Needless to say, we can’t work out how to tend to ourselves until we can see how we’re suffering from internal criticism and shame around body image. Awareness cultivated through practices like mindfulness, centering, silence, quieting our mind and yoga are great places to start.
Self-love and compassion
Once we’re aware of how our culture has taught us to loathe our body in service of being loved and accepted – it’s ironic that in order to get love we have to hate ourselves (!) – we inevitably see how unkind and unreasonable that approach is. This can be a very drawn-out process, maybe taking years of disengaging ourselves from the messages of our culture, but we can learn a huge amount about ourselves along the way. It turns out that learning to accept and love the body we have can lead us to newly opened doors to creative freedom, aligning ourselves with our personal purpose, and enjoying pleasure. Obsession about body image may be one of the main things holding women back from living the life they are meant to live. We can cultivate self-love and self-compassion by doing pratices like Mindful Self-Compassion, Somatic Self-Compassion, Bear Body or Finding Your Self-Compassion Practice Path.
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