"Self love, body positivity, healing your body image".....It all sounds nice, but what does it truly mean to work on your relationship with your body image?
The perception we have of our body is molded by numerous factors; culture, environment and trauma are just a few. Most of us have deep rooted beliefs, validated by our culture, that we should look a certain way. Often, when clients start body image work, there is a belief that they are working towards loving how their body looks. Working towards this idea can deepen the cycle of black and white thinking and set us up for failure. Our relationship with our body will never be static. Just like emotions, we are wired to experience a wide range of thoughts and experiences daily in regards to our body. The goal isn't to make all the experiences perfect or to make us invincible from the negative thoughts, the goal is to learn how to navigate what comes up with respect and care. It's building resilience so when these moments do happen you are able to acknowledge them and carry on with your day instead of spiraling into shame.
I love how fellow HAES practitioner, Haley Goodrich, said it, "Body Image work is learning to be with our bodies and moving through the world with more neutrality towards them. It's learning to navigate the world a bit more skilled and with less body shaming".
Body image work is an ongoing journey, not a destination. Things you can expect to explore when it comes to body image healing are
My encouragement to you is to know you are exactly where you need to be on this journey. It's never too late and you're never "too behind" when it comes to learning and healing. To take this work a step further grab a journal and write out a list of perceptions that trigger your negative body image. Examples of this could be : Wearing jeans right out of the dryer, scrolling through social media, a change in the seasons, being tired, being around certain people, wearing clothes that don't fit etc. It's anything that happens that can change how you feel in your body in any given moment. The purpose of this is to begin to separate your body image perceptions from yourself as a human. Apply curiosity to this.
Rooting you on through your own healing journey,
Hanna Kuyper, M.A, CIEC. is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT 109748) under the employment and supervision of DaLene Forester, PhD, LMFT, LPCC MFC 33095, LPC 629. ) Hanna see’s clients out of her private practice in Redding, CA. Hanna is also a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.