You do not need to have an Eating Disorder to struggle with your relationship to body, mind and food. This is evident in many men and women. They have guilt or shame around food, their choice to exercise or not and even the way they speak negatively about themselves, their bodies. It becomes an exhaustible cycle of negative self-talk, obsession on supposed negative behaviors, ‘correcting’ these actions, over compensating for what we perceive as short falls, and continuing self-shame. Looking at it objectively, it is no wonder we have difficulty in making positive changes for our bodies. We must first allow for self-compassion and heal our minds. By creating more self-love and care we honor ourselves and are able to see that all we need or want is already within us.
There are some ways that can prove to be useful in helping to rebuild your relationship in mind and body.
Go get Kristen Neff’s book Self Compassion immediately. Read it, take notes, log-on to her website and do the self-compassion meditation. Her methodology in creating space in the body compassion and peace is easy to understand and practice. In beginning, my own path to recovery my therapist had suggested this book to help guide me along my way. Nearly, every night I would (and at times still do) play the self-compassion mediation right before bed. Hearing her words of kindness helped shift the way I saw myself, my being and others. This practice of repeatedly invoking good will and kindness towards me and others (especially when we are suffering) cultivated the desire to see all living things as happy and free.
Stop Labeling Food.
Putting a name or association with certain foods, body types, and people creates an emotion towards that object or being. It’s unfair to assign a moral association to a food. It creates a tension and ultimately puts you at risk for eating disorder behaviors. A healthy way to categorize foods (if you must) could be “everyday” foods and “sometimes” foods. This allows you to calmly approach a food situation without being self-critical to every choice made.
Stop Labeling Your Body.
Your body is a vehicle to all of the things you can do in life-stop punishing and shaming her! This is SO much easier said than done (I’m right there with you), but practicing self-care and love helps change the way you see your body. Your body is not a word. It is not a feeling. It simply is what you use to navigate the world. She can bring you so much joy when you care for her and listen to her intuitively. It is amazing as I continue on my journey to recovery how little I actually tuned in to hear what she had to say. She has never led me astray when I truly connect and follow her desire for nourishment and movement.
Stop Labeling Others.
This can be difficult in our world of magazines, TV Ads, and the internet-but it is important to shift the way we describe others. Even telling a person they look great after some weight loss, enforces the thought that weight loss is inherently healthy and always the goal. Instead focus on their behaviors and achievements in other areas. Truly loving someone because of their physical being is silly; rather how they make you and others feel is more appropriate an association.
View health and well-being as a process.
No one day really matters much on its own, but rather an accumulation of actions and healthy habits. It is not about reaching that ‘perfection’ but always striving for a healthier relationship to self. Again, truly tune into what your body is asking and follow it! If she is craving rest one day- rest! If she is feeling run-down tune into what will truly nourish her.
These are just a few ways in how shifting your thinking can guide you to a better relationship to self. Start slowly and with compassion. If it has been a while since you’ve truly listened to what your body is asking be gentle and patient. The more you practice the more in tune you become to healing your relationship to self.