Friday, June 18, 2010
ignoring the weeds and loving our bodies
I've spent a bit of time in our yard recently and realized that I don't enjoy it. I only see the weeds. I sit in my swing that I longed for, and pop up after about 3 minutes to pull weeds. Yesterday I walked by the side of the house, bent down to pull a bunch of weeds–my head was 3 inches from some gorgeous and delicate pink roses– but I didn't even notice them. I stood up to move on and caught a hint of their delicate perfume. I stopped. Looked at the roses, bent down and inhaled their fragrance. It calmed me, it made me happy. It got me thinking.
I hear moms say all the time, "I don't want to pass my body issues on to my kids." How many of us spend our lives only seeing our own "weeds" and ignoring our wonderful bodies? Do you look in the mirror and only see the pimple, the tummy roll, the bulge under the bra strap? We miss out on so much wonder and beauty, and spoil the experience of being in the garden ("life"-sorry for the cheesy metaphor) when all we see are the weeds.
It's not easy to turn this around. But here are a few thoughts. Consciously think about good things about your garden-body. At first this will likely take considerable effort, but let's rewire those brains and see what happens!
Write them down if you have to. Five things every day. Like,
1) "I went for a walk today and my feet didn't hurt." (I've had major feet problems over the years.)
2) when I smile, others smile back at me
3) It felt good when I got a hug this morning. M likes sitting on my knee and giving me hugs.
4) My hands can cut a red pepper into one long strip that coils up and is fun to eat.
5) I liked talking to my friend on my walk today, and I wasn't out of breath, even on the uphills
Focus on what feels good, what attributes you are proud of. This is not easy. We have largely been raised in a culture that encourages us to judge our worth based on our appearance, with a wholly unattainable ideal to compare to.
If you worry about passing on a negative body image to your children, maybe fake it at first. Start with being very conscious about not saying things out loud in front of your children. ("I hate my thighs," or "I can't wear a bathing suit with my tummy hanging out...") Both comments I have heard from women varying from sizes 0 to 18. I know I have far fewer "bad body" days since consciously watching what I say and think (it's pretty effortless now) for the sake of my daughter initially, but I have been happier as well.
I'm currently reading "Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds From Now" by Jess Weiner about stopping the fat talk. I've also read Roth's "When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair." which I thought was fine as well. And remember, studies show what we know in our hearts, self-loathing and shame are not good motivators for being happy and taking care of ourselves. So back to the garden metaphor. Take time to smell the roses, and ignore the weeds. Fertilize your little garden with things that refresh and fulfill you. A walk? Some funny TV, spiritual practices, a few minutes with a book and some good chocolate?
A disclaimer: I am not an expert on this issue, and would love to hear from my readers about helpful resources etc. Am I off-base? How have your lives changed if you've been able to "rewire" your brain and forget the weeds, even if just for a little while?