Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cultivate Self Love (Body Positive Psychology Part 3)

For the past few weeks, we have been looking at what it takes to be Body Positive.  Embracing body positivity leads you to a better relationship with yourself and others.  It drastically lessens your inner struggles and increases your joy for life. This week I'm delving into Developing a Practice of Self-Love, the third of these five competencies:

      Reclaim Health (Check out my blog post on reclaiming health here.)
      Practice Intuitive Self-Care (Check out my blog post on intuitive self-care here.)
      Cultivate Self-Love
      Declare Your Own Authentic Beauty
      Create Community

Does Self-Love sound scary or ridiculous to you?  Somehow we've become a society where treating ourselves with love or kindness can be seen as weakness.  We are one of the only (if not the only) countries in the world where people brag about how many hours they've worked and how little sleep they've gotten.  Getting physically active isn't respected unless we are 'working out' - no pain, no gain.  I once dated a man who said that the sign of a great bike ride was how many times he threw up!  A hike is considered recreational but if you don't  go to the gym that day you're slacking.  Enough already!! 

“Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves,
 to treat ourselves with respect,
and to be kind and affectionate towards ourselves.”
Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, The Gifts of Imperfection

Do you need to feel 'perfect' in order to be worthy of love from others or even from yourself? People often mistakenly feel that being or acting perfect can protect them from suffering the pain of judgement, loss and other distresses. Of course, we all rationally know it doesn't work this way but this kind of thinking leads to unhealthy self-criticism and the inability to love and appreciate ourselves.  Practicing Self-Love is about embracing our fears, learning to engage with our critical, perfectionist parts and appreciating that our self-destructive behaviors may be an effort to protect us from pain and loss.

With self-love we can learn to take action to make positive choices when we are in distress. We learn to choose between beating ourselves up and replacing our nasty voice with one that is kind and forgiving—and more practical. Here's a bonus, when we are kind to ourselves we are better at ignoring or deflecting the negativity others send our way.  Those nasty comments or perceived judgements no longer hold much power because we know we are deserving of more.  It no longer sends us deeper into self-criticism.  Double Bonus, cultivating self-love will improve your self-care behaviors. Since your capacity to receive physical nourishment is tied to your ability to allow self-love, the more you love and respect yourself the better you will care for your body. Eating in a balanced manner and exercising regularly become activities you want to do because they enhance the good feelings you experience from being kind to yourself.  Instead of feeling like you need "whip yourself into shape," you will have  a loving, respectful relationship with your body.  Then you will be comfortable, even excited to trust your inner voice to lead you to good self-care choices.  

Next week I'll be talking about the fourth part  of being Body Positive, Declaring Your Own Authentic Beauty.  This is my favorite one!  Until then, don't forget to be kind to yourself.

“Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.
You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
Lucille Ball
Love ya,

PS. For more information about BP check out Embody, Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and Quiet thatCritical Voice) by Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott (I am not an affiliate and profit in no way by your purchase of this book).


Photo: Bart

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