When I began my self-love / somatic healing journey 8 years ago, I was often frustrated when I saw posts about how we should all just love ourselves and our bodies.
“Fluff” I would say “It’s not that easy” ..or “Must be nice!” as I rolled my eyes at all the #selflove posts and quotes.
As much as I would have hated to admit it, witnessing those women in posts and even during in person events, who were truly owning their voice, their sensuality, their bodies and femininity triggered something within me in me.
Deep down, I strived to be like them, yet I discovered there were some layers of jealousy. Those layers had actually been there for as long as I can remember!
Seeing them in their full power while it inspired a part of me, it didn’t empower me to change my perspective of myself. It just fed the stories of how “I just wasn’t like them”. I couldn’t imagine myself with that level of self-assurance or confidence. Years in, the cycles of “not enough” continued even though I was actively surrounding myself with powerful women, taking courses in self-development and working one on one with coaches to try to peel back the layers of doubt, shame and self-loathing. My mind just kept blocking me.
No affirmation was going to do it for me, no matter how many times I said it.
What I discovered is that when you don’t have the awareness about why you are not loving yourself and particularly why you are not loving your body, you will likely interpret self-love posts as fluff, just like I did. They may even trigger emotions of shame and guilt or stories of “I will never be like her.”
I eventually realized I couldn’t rely on others to empower me into loving myself, I had to do the work for myself. And that work started with asking myself some important and deep honest questions.
Today, I want to share what those questions were all those years ago, because they were the jumping off point for me to explore more somatic (body-based) healing work.
But first, step out of the idea of forcing yourself to LOVE your body right away. You don’t even have to like it if that’s where you are I. What I want to encourage you to move towards first is respecting and appreciating your body.
We will do this through a series of journaling questions:
Write down the parts of your body that you dislike, or that you put the most emphasis on trying to change.
With each part ask yourself:
Where did I learn that there is something wrong with this part of my body?
Can I remember how old I was? What was the situation?
What story did I create about myself in that moment?
What does it feel like to want to change this part of my body?
What has it cost me to want to change this part of myself?
If I don’t change this part of my body what do I lose? What’s at stake?
I know this can seem like a lot to process but bare with me. This next part can be done through meditation (sitting quietly with your eyes closed) and/or through journaling. Whatever you feel most comfortable with.
After going through the process of identifying what thoughts and feelings have been attached to a particular part of you, I want you to close your eyes and imagine your 5-6 year old self having the same feelings and beliefs about herself.
Are these feelings/thoughts innately part of her or did she learn them from outside sources? (i.e the media, peers, family members)
In your mind’s eye, give that little girl some love and compassion or whatever else she needs in that moment.
(I have a picture of little Cait near my meditation space as an active reminder that my inner child is still very much a part of me and I would highly suggest you do the same!)
Next, bring to mind recent experiences that would not be possible without your body being the way it is right now.
What has your body created recently? Maybe art, maybe a fun day at the park with family or hey maybe it even created a HUMAN BEING! Write it all down and let it sink in.
Now, I want you to write a list of ALL the parts of your body that you appreciate or respect. Still don’t have to love them, but you can acknowledge them for what they have made possible for you.
And hey – maybe you do want to change a certain part of yourself, get in shape or lose weight. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. All I hope for you is that through practicing awareness exercises like you did above, that you do so from a space of compassion and respect for what you already have.
Our bodies, no matter what shape or size are gifts. Lean into gratitude, compassion and awareness and the love will come.
I would love to hear from you and to support you further in your healing journey. To connect and check out my work as a ICF Certified Somatic Coach head over to :
Love and Light,