Learning to love and respect your body is not just a part of ED recovery – it can enhance the way any person thinks about themselves. Once a week, this series will explore my own attitudes to body-loving, spread the love and wisdom of other bloggers and throw out any tips and steps I learn along the way.
I think a lot of my esteem issues come from analysing everything. I’m a self-confessed perfectionist and like things to be organised, in their place and ideal. I learned long ago that I can’t control the people around me – but I can control myself. Unfortunately, this “control” manifested itself in destructive behaviours which I was “choosing” to do to make myself “perfect.” I couldn’t get out of my own head, I couldn’t be easy on myself, I couldn’t just let go.
However damaging my obsessive self-analysis may have been, examining oneself has formed a major part of recovery. I started when I was part of Overeaters Anonymous and continued on in my Confessions series on the blog and in therapy. Since I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember and I like to make lists, that is today’s homework.
Step 1: Make A List Of Everything You Dislike About Yourself
You can make this list as long as you want as long as it is true. And by true, I don’t mean “Well I think my hair is terrible so my hair must really be terrible.” But whether the thing you dislike is a fact or not isn’t the point – you think its a fact and you have a problem with some part of your body so its affecting you the same way whether it is true or not. People often tell me I have really big eyes. I, on the other hand, think I have average sized eyes because I compare them to my sister. Many things are subjective. How you feel is dependent on your perception – not anyone else’s.
Step 2: Sit Down And Forgive Yourself
Find a quiet place, make yourself comfortable and put your list in front of you. I like my bedroom, when the house is pretty quiet, and I plonk myself in a cross legged position on my bed. Look through your list. Maybe there’s five things. Maybe there’s fifty. Imagine if somebody pointed out these “flaws” in your best friend. What would you do? I’d get mad.
Get angry. Angry that you think this way, angry that society or someone you know or something that has happened has conditioned you to think that you are not good enough, maybe even angry that you’re not perfect.
And then forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for beating yourself up. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Forgive yourself for treating your body destructively (if you have.) You are worthy of so much love – begin with your own.
Step 3: Bye Bye Letter!
Burn it. Rip it up. Scrunch it up and stomp on it. It doesn’t matter. Destroy it – let out the anger and symbolically separate all those negative thoughts from yourself.
Step 4: Make A New List
Write down the things you love about yourself. Write the things that make you unique, the parts of you that make you feel fabulous, the compliments other people give you. Make it as long as possible. Make a goal to write at least ten things. If you can, try and outdo your first list.
If you’re struggling, try and think of the amazing things your body allows you to do. When I think of my legs, I remind myself that they carry me around and let me run and do yoga and try to catch the pesky little voice telling me that my thighs are too big.
Step 5: Accept That This Is A Process
Hopefully you found this little ritual empowering or soothing or at the very least, a way to kill half an hour. Whatever you thought, its important to know that those negative thoughts are not gone for good. I’ve been at this two years (or my entire life, whatever way you want to look at it) and I am always internally criticising myself. But now I can catch it before it festers into something more sinister and just tell that inner critic to shhhh.
Put your list of things you love somewhere you can see it. Mine is in my recovery journal (I’ll talk about that more next week). Stick it on the back of your door. If you have a mirror in your room, put it there. If you feel like crap, refer back to your list. If you think of new things you love about yourself, put it on the list.
Beaucoup d’amour kids. Stay fabulous 🙂