One area where many of us struggle to appreciate ourselves is with our bodies. Many people, my self included, are super critical of how they look and of the size, shape, and appearance of their bodies. Over the course of my life, some of the deepest pain and self loathing I have felt has had to do with me feeling ugly, flawed, or simply not good enough physically.
We live in a culture that has an obsession with appearance and with “body beautiful.” And while there is nothing wrong with us wanting take care of ourselves and wanting to look good, I think that many of us go overboard with this. We forget that our ability to appreciate our bodies and feel good about our appearance is not based on how much we weigh, how tall we are, the size of certain body parts, how our skin looks, how much hair we have (a big one for me these days), or anything else. It all has to do with how we feel about our body and how we look.
We can appreciate our bodies at any time and for any reason. No body is perfect. All bodies change with time. There are so many things about our bodies and our appearance that are great, work well, and look good. We often forget to “focus on the good stuff” about our bodies, instead choosing to pay attention to the areas where we think we “need work.”
The world of “form” is always evolving and changing. Our physical bodies, like everything else physical, exist in this world of form. While we would not expect to still have the body size and appearance that we did when we were toddlers, we similarly should not expect to look the same at 40 as we did a 20, or at 65 as we did when we were 45. It is almost as if we are trying to apologize for being human, for aging, or for being physical beings.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves physically, as well as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, is to appreciate ourselves and our bodies.
This issue really hits home for me and is something that I personally find challenging…which is part of the reason I am writing about it today. As they say, “we teach best what we most need to learn.” While this body image and appearance issues are talked about quite a bit in our culture, mostly by women (even though many men, like me, worry about their appearance as well), I don’t think we really go very deep in our inquiry or discussion about it. We mostly focus on the surface – food, weight, skin care, hair care, clothes, plastic surgery, etc. None of that stuff really matters if we don’t ultimately feel good about ourselves and our bodies.
As with most things in life, appreciation, when it is genuine, comes first and can lead to the outcome, result, and feeling we desire. Instead of holding our breath until we lose those 10 or 20 pounds, have the money to buy all the new clothes we want, or get whatever it is we think we need to get to feel better about our bodies and appearance – what if we started right here, right now and appreciated our bodies exactly as they are and loved them unconditionally.
Being able to appreciate ourselves physically, while challenging for many of us, can and will create such a sense of freedom, peace, and love in your life – for yourself and with others. I’m working on it…wanna join me?