Each of us is already in a serious relationship. In fact, each of us has been in a serious relationship for a long while now. No, I’m not talking about a significant other or parent. I’m talking about our relationship with our own bodies.
I spent some time with my good friend’s 20-month old niece and I was reminded of how much joy a body can be imbued with.
Having a body was a delight—a thrill even—for sweet V! We watched her giggle as she climbed stairs and (attempted to) eat ice from a cup. V whooped as she raised her arms. Significantly, she was not worried about if she was fat or how many snacks she ‘should’ have. She was embodied.
Dating Your Body
We’ve all been there. Even if we cannot remember it, we’ve all lived through a time where we were thrilled with what our body could do! Then, we grew up and things got more complicated. Whoops.
The joy and romance of having a body left, and the self-efficacy externalized as ‘body’ took over. Many of us made a (sub)conscious decision to spoil our innate bodily connections and messages, because we learned to over-rely on physical body as our identity.
This doesn’t feel good. Not. One. Bit.
So, it’s time to get the love back on! While you are not your body, you definitely should spend some time listening to what your body needs. Take some time to grow your relationship to your body. Watch the joy that ensues.
To treat your relationship with your body like any other relationship, here are some rules of engagement.
1. Of course it takes effort.
Like any good relationship, the one with your body takes work. This work is sometimes physical (A bit of yoga never hurt anyone!). But, more often than not, this work is subtle.
You have to give up a bit of mind-driven dictatorship you’ve established and let your body talk. And, then, you have to listen! Just like you grow a relationship with a sweetie, you have to be willing to not always be ‘right’ and instead work to get things to feel right.
2. Your body gets a say.
You cannot override the body. Not for a long period at least. Trust me, I’ve tried! Our bodies have an intelligence and intuition that needs to be respected. And (so sorry!), our bodies don’t always ascribe to the timelines we’ve arbitrarily put on them.
Listen to your body and do what it says for a change! This practice can feel totally uncomfortable, but is endlessly valuable. By listening to more than our judgments, we learn what we are really hungry for.
3. You are not a battlefield—so stop behaving like one.
You do not have to fight. Period. You do not have to fight your urges. You do not have to fight your hungers. Try this experiment: for a week, say ‘yes’ to what your body asks for; then, notice what happens...you might just feel better!
Sure, if you’ve been denying yourself for a while, your mind will tell you that this level of trust feels really wrong. And, sometimes, when the body finally gets a say, the body acts out.
But then, this wonderful thing happens. You stop denying your needs. You start to trust yourself. You step out of the maladaptive punishment cycle. You feel more peaceful. And, eventually, you get the body (and mind) you deserve!
4. Things work much better if you lead from love.
Ultimately, if you do anything for your dear body, love.
Like any relationship, love begets love. If you want to feel better, offer something better than rebuke or shame. Love and appreciate your sweet body like it’s the only one you’ll get this lifetime. Let this relationship not only last but flourish for as long as you're in it!