When it comes to abuse recovery, something not talked about enough is our relationship to our bodies. Something that a lot of us don’t take into account even as survivors, we don’t realize the impact abuse has on our body.
I’m going to start this conversation with a post I shared on Instagram.
WARNING: risque picture below.
I wanted to share this because this was my heart in a moment that I was feeling very disconnected from myself.
So this is a reminder, not just for others, but for myself. I want you to recognize that you’re not alone. I’m learning to love myself alongside you.
I have found something that has truly helped me on my journey and I want to share that with you.
First, grab a journal.
Turn to a fresh page and start writing everything you hate about your body.
Just let it all out. And don’t let yourself hold back.
I’m asking you to dump it all out on paper. This makes room for the truth in your brain. If you’re obsessing over what you hate, you’re not going to be able to think of anything positive. So this is your safe place.
I want you to really let it all out here.
Next, turn to a new page and write down what your body has done for you.
Not what you like about your body, but what your body has done for you. What do I mean by that?
Think about all of the things that you couldn’t do if your body didn’t show up for you.
Did you wake up today? Your body did that. Write that down.
Did you hear a beautiful song? Your ears did that. Write that down.
Did you see something wonderful. Your eyes did that. Write that down.
You’re going on a walk? Had a baby? Take care of kids? Taste delicious food? Smell something nostalgic. Write it down.
This is how you learn to love your body after trauma. You learn to recognize what it’s done for you.
Separating what has happened to it from what it’s done for you is an important part of recovery.
After you’ve written down the things your body has done for you, thank it. I know it sounds cheesy, but do it anyway.
Thank you for:
Allowing me to hear that song I love so much.
Creating my beautiful child.
Allowing me to take care of my child.
Allowing me to smell that smell that automatically took me back to my grandma’s kitchen at Christmas time.
A lot of the time we get so obsessed with looks that we don’t take the time to thank our body for all the wonderful things it has done for us. So often all we have are negative things to say about our body.
We not only underestimate the role our body plays, but we totally take it for granted.
After realizing that I had chronic illness (I was diagnosed 10 years ago) I began to really think about it.
Like, man, not only have I come so far, my body has healed so much. Am I ever going to be cured from it? Probably not.
But my body is healing. It’s taken research, work and trial and error. It’s like, man, if my body can show up and do all of this while it’s also in so much pain, it’s pretty incredible.
I want you to really think about that. You don’t have to like the fact that your body has chronic illness, you don’t have to like the fact that your knees hurt, you don’t have to like the fact that your back hurts. But you can thank your body for showing up anyway.
The more gratitude that you give your body, the better you’ll feel.
When you’re dumping negative on your body all day long, your brain releases stress hormones.
I’m not saying that positive self talk to your body all day long is going to cure your ailments. What I am saying is that you can stop beating up on it, you can stop making it harder than it needs to be for your poor body.
The point of the dumping the negative out is to make room in your brain for other things. If we don’t acknowledge what we hate, that’s all it’s going to be swirling around in our minds. If we don’t acknowledge that we hate the way our stomach looks, then we’re not going to be able to have any appreciation for it.
So what I mean by that is I don’t like my sagging skin from pregnancy and weight loss, I can’t stand it. I don’t find it beautiful. I don’t enjoy it. However, I love my body.
I realized that it’s there because I’ve lost a lot of weight. And I’m pretty proud of that. I know it’s there because my body created life, while also dealing with chronic illness. And I’m pretty proud of that. That’s pretty amazing.
After you write this down I want you to remember that there is no such thing as too many thank yous. If you find yourself filling a page, there’s no shame go to the next one. You’re not egotistical.
Loving your body and loving yourself is not egotistical.
I really hate that’s the message that’s been spread around society.
I want you to look at the at the Thank Yous that you’ve written, I want you to pick two to three that stand out to you the most. For example, I don’t like my stomach. And so I would probably pick out any of the thank yous that have to do with my stomach, pregnancy or weight loss because those are gonna be the ones that are going to help me the most with hating this specific part of my body.
So pick two or three, and these are going to become your affirmations.
Click here to listen to Affirmation 101 where I break down what affirmations are and how to use them.
When I say affirmations, this is going to be something consistent. Ideally, you would say these out loud to yourself in the mirror three times a day.
Every time you pee, you just say it to yourself in the mirror.
This isn’t a 30 minute self love sermon. Thank you to my body for allowing me to get healthy. Thank you to my body for finishing that 5K, whatever it is.
It’s 30 seconds.
You can take 30 seconds out of your day.
But if that’s hard for you, what I would recommend is putting reminders in your phone so you don’t forget.
If you really can’t make it to a mirror to say these things out loud to yourself throughout the day. Do them when you’re in the car, say them particularly when you’re feeling a lot of negativity towards that thing.
Now if you’re anything like me, you’re gonna want to do all of the affirmations at once. Don’t do that. A lot of us have a hard time fitting in the 30 seconds that it takes for the two to three, let alone 30. Just pick two to three that stand out to you the most and start from there. After a few weeks, you can add on or swap some out.
These aren’t set in stone. If after one week, you know you’re feeling really good about one area, but you’re really hating another, grab another affirmation.
The issue is that you don’t want to do too much at once. Your brain is already going to be very, very resistant to anything positive about your body anyway. You don’t want to overwhelm it by throwing too much at it at once.
Trust me, even if it’s only two to three, you’re still gonna see a really big difference.
Learning to love your body is a journey that takes time.
It’s not like a one stop shop. There isn’t any one workshop or one thing that you can do the automatically all your body hatred is going to be done. It’s going to take time.
The other part of this is that you don’t have to love your body right now. But you do need to begin thanking it for all the amazing things it’s done. I know it isn’t easy. It won’t be an overnight fix. But if you commit to the work, it will happen. Your body is absolutely amazing. And it deserves all the love and praise that you give to everyone else.