How to Love Your Body: A 7 Step Process
The choice to learn how to love your body can turn into one of the best things you ever do – not just for your health and wellbeing, but also for your romantic and intimate life. Even better, knowing how to love your body supports your genuine happiness. Loving your body leads to more consistent peace and fulfillment. Yes, your relationship with your body impacts every area of your life.
Let’s consider why you might ask questions like “how to love your body at any size” or “how to fall in love with your body.” The very questions themselves bring to light the painful experiences, and less-than-loving mindset that too many people, especially women, have when it comes to loving their bodies. Maybe right now you frequently find yourself comparing your body to others or regularly checking yourself in the mirror looking for what’s too this or too that today. Maybe you have a critical eye against certain parts of your body you believe should be a different shape or size – anything from hips, to eyes, to feet, to breasts, bellies, sexual organs, and everything in between.
Internal body criticism and even shaming might be amplified by beating yourself up for the way you eat or the fact that you don’t regularly exercise. Surprisingly yet important to recognize, some people who appear to have “perfect” bodies, actually have those seemingly perfect bodies, despite, or in fact because, they actually hate their body so much. Women like this may strive constantly for beauty and the perfect body, yet regardless of how beautiful everyone else sees them, underneath that person can believe they actually appear ugly.
Why you should love your body
Whether you hate your body entirely or you simply find yourself in never-ending body judgment, it may be well beyond time to learn how to love your body.
Let’s face it, though. We can’t have a conversation in today’s western world about loving our bodies without naming the fact that entertainment and advertising constantly bombard us with images of what bodies “should” look like. Implicitly they say, “if your body doesn’t look this way you won’t be loved or wanted.” Unconsciously we turn this into self-judgment, embarrassment, and inadequacy.
In turn we lose our sense of true self, we lose our self-expression, and the willingness to move freely in the world. Hiding and contorting our bodies only further separates us from ourselves and the ones we love or want to love, especially romantically.
Ultimately, not loving our bodies creates immense pain. It causes separation and it blocks the acceptance and validation of our goodness and desirability – just the way we are. It perpetuates criticism, comparison, and constant disappointment. Which, as we said, means we’ll find it nearly impossible to feel sustained happiness. How could anyone feel content, satisfied, and truly open to the pleasures of life and love if they constantly feel inadequate or ugly physically?
So while there is absolutely no way you should look, loving how you do look will serve you well.
How to love your body the way it is?
As you start to learn how to love your body, one of the hardest things for many people to accept is that you have to love your body the way it is. You can’t love it “except” for some part or the other. You can’t say “I’ll love my body when…” The critical shift happens when you begin to embrace your body just the way it appears now.
So let’s look at the 7 key steps in this process with more detail…
- Understand that there is no way your body should look. The first step in learning how to love your body begins with dropping the belief that there is any way your body should look. Period. End of story. Any concept of what it should look like originated from some made up story. It could have been a story based on what someone else told you, or that you conjured up in your mind during some uncomfortable situation, about beauty, attractiveness, and worth. It doesn’t matter what part of life we’re discussing – bodies, cars, foods, decor, or sports – all opinions and perspectives are simply that, opinions and perspectives. They are not true. They are not right. Inarguable facts are the only thing we can consider true or right. So start, by remembering all expectations about how you should look come from false beliefs that we can, and need to, release. If you’re not sure how to clear this old consciousness, reach out for support.
- Make friends with your body. We must realize that our body is not our enemy and we are not the victim of our body. Many people who judge their bodies also feel at war with their bodies. We can think that our bodies are letting us down by not being slimmer or more fit. If the body has extra pounds, aches or pains, or even disease, the body is not trying to make our lives more difficult. It’s actually trying to tell us something that we desperately need to hear. It’s almost always inviting us to come back into balance.
- Start listening. Culturally many of us have been conditioned to ignore the signs of the body. We’re conditioned to control and even deny our emotions. We are told to “buck up” and get over pain. Yet, if we deny our emotions, if we ignore our true needs, we will begin to pick up self-sabotaging and even addictive patterns that actually harm the body. This will lead to the body being less fit and less healthy which fuels the fire of judging and hating our bodies.
- Learn to feel. If we want the body to be healthy, if we want to feel good in our bodies then we have to have a healthy relationship with our emotions as well. Learning to feel will allow stuck energy to begin to move and release. This will help you see your body in a new way and in the process it will begin to feel different as well. The kinder you are to your body, the better the body feels and performs, which then helps us to deepen our love.
- Be grateful. Most people take their body’s for granted. They don’t give them the care, attention and maintenance they require. Then they feel betrayed when the body doesn’t look, feel or perform in the ways it once did. As you learn how to love your body it will help to make a written list of ALL the things your body does for you. Resist the temptation to list the things it doesn’t do. Just focus on what it does do for you. Be honest with yourself about all the things the body makes possible. If you really explore this your list will be long.
- Begin one self-care practice. Pick one thing that you are willing to do everyday to care for your body. This could include things like going for a walk, eating vegetables, getting enough sleep, meditating, taking a break in the middle of the day. It doesn’t matter what you pick, just pick something that either inspires you or that feels good. Then practice that. If you have trouble staying consistent with your practice, get curious about why it’s hard for you to honor your intention. When you look closely you will realize that the reasons you struggle are rooted in unsupportive beliefs that you can release.
- Look in the mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. It may be hard at first, but what you’ll discover in this process is how to love yourself and your body. Usually if we don’t like our body, we also don’t fully like ourselves. So learning how to love yourself will make loving your body much easier. After you are able to look in the mirror and smile at yourself, then begin to find and verbally appreciate different parts of your body.
It’s important to realize that you will need to keep repeating these steps over and over. Learning how to love your body is a process. Slowly with time, as you continue to release judgmental conditioning, as you practice seeing your body as supportive, as you honestly notice and appreciate all the things it makes possible for you, then not only will your capacity to love your body grow, you’ll find that love arising much more naturally and effortlessly.
What does love do to your body?
When we discover how to love our body, the resultant love, energy and vitality serves our body well. Naturally, our bodies relax in the presence of love. The body begins to feel safe to open and even rest. When we know how to love ourselves and our bodies, we release the pressure to perform and perfect. We have permission, finally, to just be.
In that embrace of self and body we will find a renewed energy. Our life force begins to flow freely. We have more confidence and self-esteem within us. We will allow ourselves to be seen more fully. Our connections will strengthen because we no longer feel driven to hide or withdraw in the self-imposed judgment and shame of ourselves and our bodies.
When it comes to our romantic relationships, understanding how to love our bodies will also help us release fears of intimacy that we might hold. Not loving ourselves and our bodies means that we don’t trust or receive love from another. We’ll often unconsciously resist a partner’s attempts to love us and truly make love with us. Yet, when we love our bodies, we will begin to know that others can love them too. We’ll actually believe we are lovable, just as we are. Of course, our ability to love our bodies also hugely expands our capacity to experience the pleasures of physical intimacy, which truly matters in relationship.
Learning to love your body and yourself will change your life in unimaginable ways. It can take patience and courage. It won’t happen overnight but it will happen if you continue to walk the path of love. One step at a time you’ll learn to release the old, outdated, never-yours-to-begin-with consciousness that blocked the very love that was always innately yours.
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