Last Mother’s Day my children got together to chip in their little savings and buy me airpods, seeing that I rather clumsily struggled every evening to talk on the phone with my oldest or my parents, while setting dinner for the rest. My heart is so full with gratitude…
In today’s article I wannt to start talking about the expectations we have of ourselves and of others. And for that, I want to address the expectations we have of our bodies.
Because if you’re like most women, you likely have a negative relationship with your body, or at least certain aspects of it. Perhaps you zero in on that aspect every time you look in the mirror. Perhaps you compare yourself with others about it – and thanks to social media, this can be a perpetual source of dismay.
For most of us, this negative relationship is more than just a dislike. About 80% of women who dislike their bodies (or some aspect of it) feel bad about themselves because of it. They’re not just unhappy with the way they look, they’re ashamed about themselves as a result. Any fact around their body comes with moral judgment. I ate an extra cookie so I’m a bad person. I gained an extra pound and I’m useless and out of control. I’ve got wrinkles and I’m no good to be around.
And although this shame is a result of low self-worth, this kind of thinking feeds back into it and eventually leads to just giving up, not only on our bodies, but also on our larger goals.
If this sounds anything like you, take a deep breath and reach out to yourself in compassion. There’s nothing like self-compassion to calm deep seated beliefs that are inaccessible to rational thought. Mounds of research shows that without the healing power of self-compassion, we cannot engage our higher thinking or reach for more meaningful goals.
Once you feel in a more relaxed state of mind, here are 3 questions you may want to ask yourself:
- What expectations do you hold of parts of yourself that you dislike? Where do these expectations come from? How reasonable are they? How helpful are they?
- What are the higher aspirations you have for your life? What is the difference you want to make? How does your body help you do so?
- What will you do to nurture your body as the vehicle to your dreams? How will you help it function at its best so it helps you do the things that are truly important to you?
I’ve found that this approach works particularly well because it changes the moral emotion of contempt and disgust to one of awe and gratitude. And that’s always a much better place to begin the process of change.