compassion

How to Counteract Body Shame

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Growing up, my body was always up for discussion — how much I weighed, whether or not I shaved my body hair, whether or not I had blemishes, how I dressed my body, how ‘athletic’ I was, how I moved & carried myself... I learned, implicitly & explicitly, that it’s important to have a ‘good’ body, and that my worth depends on appearing attractive to others.

But this ‘good’ body I was ‘supposed to’ have always seemed elusive — impossible to achieve and ever-changing. And, as a result, I was constantly looking to others for validation & fulfillment, and always felt not-quite-good-enough. I’ve spent years undoing this tangled web of body shame, and I’ll likely be picking away at it for years to come. Here’s what I’ve found that helps:

  • Radical Acceptance • I spent years thinking that, if my body were different, then I could be happy. But nothing has brought more-immediate & true happiness than accepting myself exactly as I am — giving myself permission to be however I am right now, without believing it negatively affects my value as a human being.

  • Kind Words • I used to say all sorts of disparaging things about my body. But part of radical acceptance is finding better ways to talk about bodies, so I’m constantly finding new ways of describing my body that express love & admiration. Rather than shaming myself for having ‘rolls’ or ‘flab’, I exalt my softness & my juiciness

  • Context • Being surrounded by people & media that express a narrow view of beauty or assess people’s worth based on appearances makes radical acceptance & kindness really difficult. We can remove this hurdle by surrounding ourselves with people who are open & accepting & loving & kind, and with media that represents all bodies as ‘good’ bodies

  • Self-Care • Loving my body is harder when my body feels like doodoo! So I try to take good care of myself with sleep, food & water, movement, breath, time outdoors, etc.

Stress x Money

In the world humans have created, money is intrinsically linked to our sense of safety. Everything we’ve learned about how to survive & thrive involves money. So, when we think we don’t have enough money, our body reacts as though our life is at stake.

The past few months, I’ve run into some circumstances that have spread me thin financially, and I’ve been going into full-blown survival mode. For me, that’s been manifesting as a giant brain tornado — thinking TOO MUCH about “what do I doooo?!”, trying to control everything, complaining, feeling exhausted, beating myself up for not ‘getting enough done’, bingeing on screens, and feeling out-of-touch with my old friends Ease & Enjoyment.

Here’s what’s been helping me:

  • Coming up with a plan that I feel okay with (including a worst-case-scenario contingency), and then choosing to trust that plan every time I start freaking out.

  • Acknowledging my ‘wins’, even (especially!) the little things, every damn day.

  • Recognizing my humanness — I’m a person, not a money-making machine, and I have needs & limits!

  • Making time to reconnect with & care for myself physically & emotionally by meditating, moving my body, & spending time in nature

Perfectionism x Personal Growth

I’ve had to remind myself lately that it’s okay to ‘check out’ sometimes.

When I first started addressing my trauma, I realized that I dissociate A LOT — it’s one of my go-to coping mechanisms. So I crowned myself the kween of embodiment & self-healing and made dissociation my new enemy.

I didn’t think of it that way at the time... but sometimes a good idea takes a bad turn, ya know? In trying to help myself, I created a new ‘should’ — another rule about what’s [un]acceptable. And dissociating (which I do all the time) was now officially not-okay ❌

So when I get stressed and start to disengage, this little voice of self-judgement chimes in, saying “Don’t do that! Bad!” Which adds to my stress, which makes the urge to dissociate even stronger, which fuels my self-judgement...

I’m just gonna ruin the surprise and let you know, it’s not a very effective strategy. So now, when I hear the judgmental voice chiming in, I come through with the self-acceptance.

I let myself smoke weed & watch Netflix & feel like doodoo, until I’m fckn over it and ready to face my feelings & take care of myself. And when that time comes, I don’t think about how ‘bad’ I’ve been — I just do what my body is calling me to do, and then move on to the next thing.

Letting my intuition guide my progress, rather than trying to ‘discipline’ myself into being perfect, feels like a radical act of trust and self-love, and it’s really difficult sometimes. But we don’t grow by being perfect, we grow by making a mess & learning from it!

Self Love x Listening

We all have a deep need to feel heard and understood. But, often, when we have a feeling we don’t like, our impulse is to cover it up, distract ourselves from it, or try to rid ourselves of it (read: ‘cure’ or ‘fix’)

Imagine telling your partner or best friend that you‘re feeling bad, or that you need support. And they respond the same way — not listening, changing the subject, telling you “it’ll be fine”, or giving unsolicited advice to ‘fix’ your feelings.

I think most of us wouldn’t like that. And I don’t think our bodies like it when we do it to ourselves.

All the time, our body+mind ‘hides’ information from our consciousness that isn’t relevant. So, when we have a feeling, whether physical or emotional, our body is communicating something that it thinks is important.

Since I’ve practiced listening to my body’s messages, I’ve found that most uncomfortable feelings are resolved just from being felt & noticed. And for the rest, I get a better understanding of how to support my wellbeing — whether that’s to slow down & take a rest, or move my body, or write in my journal, or play outside... The medicine tends to reveal itself when I pause to listen to what my body+mind needs

Listening to our body’s cries and supporting it in the way it asks us to is a radical act of self-love.

Imposter Syndrome x Bravery

Have you heard the term ‘imposter syndrome’ floating around? It’s a name for that voice in your head that says, “Who do you think you are?” It’s that feeling of hot shame and the fear of being ‘called out’.

I think most of us have experienced Imposter Syndrome before. I, for one, had an encounter with it last weekend. I went to a conference where I was surrounded by successful, knowledgeable people who do similar work to mine. And, while a part of me was feeling so inspired and so happy to be learning with likeminded people, I couldn’t help but notice the little voice in my head telling me, “You’re so basic. You think you’re qualified to teach people? You don’t know anything that isn’t already known.”

Fortunately, the teachers at this conference were courageous & open-hearted, and they didn’t hesitate to admit that they were nervous, that they too felt like an imposter

I think, a lot of the time, imposter syndrome (although it feels terrible) can be a good sign... it means we’re doing something brave, we’re challenging ourselves. The shame & fear is just a byproduct — it’s our brain trying to protect us from uncertainty, failure, and rejection

So, next time your brain starts asking, “Who do you think you are?” I invite you to tell it that you’re human, perfectly imperfect, and that you’re learning & growing. Appreciate your strengths. Commend your bravery. Give yourself the acceptance & love that your brain is so afraid you won’t get

Perfectionism x New Year's Resolutions

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As we transition into the new year, many of us are making BIG plans! This time of year is so filled with hope & encouragement.

But I think this has happened to most of us — around March (...or, y’know, late January), we ‘fall off the bandwagon’ as they say.

Making a new habit feels weird, and sometimes we struggle and we don’t like it. And maybe we forget a few times, or skip it because we don’t feel like it. And then, after awhile, we just go back to what we’ve been doing because it’s easy & familiar.

I know, for me, it’s my streak of perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking that trips me up with stuff like this. When I can’t execute my perfect plan perfectly, my reaction is to think that I can’t do it - I’m not cut out for it, it’s too hard, etc. It’s like I’m so overwhelmed by feelings of not-good-enough that, to avoid dealing with them, I just shut down and give up.

Fortunately, I’ve learned to be more & more aware of this pattern. And whats helped the most is to give myself permission to do something badly.

Most people fumble & struggle & fail a lot before they become skilled at something — that’s just life. And yet I was expecting myself to be supernaturally good at things I had little-to-no practice doing.

When I expected I would do badly for awhile (and made myself okay with that), it became a lot less scary for me to try new things. And, ultimately, to perservere and succeed.