Today’s guest post is by Liz Casey of BigBodyBeautiful. Liz is a freelance writer, size-acceptance activist, self-esteem promoter, and lover of the dialog between the body and consciousness. Professionally, she’s a Senior Technical Writer and operates a Motorcycle Touring Company for women in Sedona, AZ, where she lives with her husband and best friend of 19 years, two delicious cats, an equally delicious purple and orange Harley-Davidson Street Glide, and about 1000 books. You can find her on Facebook here and read more on her writing website here.
Quick! When you think of the word compassion, what comes up for you? If you are like most people, showing kindness toward other people, animals, or the earth likely rates toward the top of the list. Compassion is a wonderful, deeply satisfying experience. When we are feeling empathy and compassion, it means that we are in the center of who we really are, which is LOVE. But, honestly, most of us fail at generating compassion for one crucial area of our lives. Our bodies.
Oh, we toil. We start charities. We pray for others. We save animals. We help our friends, family members, and co-workers face challenges and solve problems. We help the less fortunate. We send piles of money to other countries to help them. We chase down diseases. We right wrongs (left and right). We tell others that they are beautiful. We show up. We communicate. We read. We learn. We work hard!
But, we often lack even the slightest compassion for our own bodies. Most of us easily and readily give our love and compassion to other beings. But, we do not give it to ourselves. Most of us dislike our bodies or some key aspect of our bodies. Some of us even hate our bodies. Women typically suffer the most from this, though body hatred is not limited to women. Lots of men have this affliction, too. So, I ask: Why is it that we humans can be so compassionate toward others, so determined to convince other people of their beauty when we largely cannot do it for ourselves?
Well, my friends, I’m different. I LOVE MY BODY. All of it. Yes, my body, all 250 gorgeous pounds of her. Every dimple. Every curve. Every roll of fat. Every stretch mark. Every wrinkle. Every grey hair. Every blemish. I love her so much. I heap praises on my body every day. I feel vast amounts of compassion for the work she does for me. I tell her what a good girl she is and how much I adore her. Every time I walk past a mirror, I look longingly and deeply at my body and say to her: “You are my yummy girl. You are such a gooooood body. Who’s a good body?! YOU ARE!” Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe, but peeps, it’s true. No, I didn’t always feel this way. I was not taught this body acceptance in childhood by a set of functional and loving parents. Believe me. It was not easy to get here. I had to fight to get to this place of acceptance and adoration, but here I am. And, if I can do it, anyone can.
I’m often asked for my story. People come to my blog, BigBodyBeautiful, and they are blown away by the positivity, fun, and light there. They ask me to discuss my assertions about the body and how I came to the place of loving it. They celebrate with me. But, when I’m talking with people, in person, about body image, which is something I do every time I meet a woman or am in a room for more than 17 seconds, the people with whom I interact, sometimes do not believe me when I tell them that I love my body. They (despite their best efforts not to) look me up and down and smile like they think I’m just demonstrating some blustery bravado to mask other—well—darker feelings. Some even ask incredulously: “Wait, you love your body?” To which I smile and say with gusto, “YES!” What they are really saying with their eyes is: “But, look at it! How can you love something so, um, well, FAT?”
Okay, I’ll tell you. I’ve found a way to understand my body and its role in my soul’s expansion. And, with that awareness, I’ve adhered to a practice that takes just minutes per day and yields the most amazing results that I’ve ever experienced. What is this practice? Simply making a conscious effort to save some of the compassion that I would ordinarily heap on other people for myself. That’s it. I spend the majority of each day telling myself how wonderful I am in body, mind, and soul, even when I do not completely believe it or feel it on a particular day. I encourage myself constantly.
Now, for those of you who think that this is simply a practice of putting a happy-face sticker on a pile of dog-poo, I get that. And, you would not be entirely wrong, but, amazingly, this act of consciously loving oneself really works even if, like me, you don’t always believe it. This positive practice gets into your subconscious and eventually changes your perceptions about your body; it does the job. It generates huge compassion for your hard-working body and it frees you; it frees your energy, it heals you.
For example, I praise myself for accomplishing something (no matter how mundane). I whisper to my belly: “I love you, monkey,” all day long. I praise my other parts. I stand up and dance around the room and feel earth and cosmic energy flooding through me. I eat foods that vibrate faster. I drink a gallon of pure, clean water every day. I meditate. I do yoga. I read funny blogs. I gut-laugh at least 20 minutes per day. I thank Source Energy for every moment on this blessed earth. I ride my Harley, really fast. I stand in the sun and invite God into my body. I giggle. I pet my cats. I pet my husband. I call a friend out of the blue and ask her to tell me how she feels about me. (That one is really fun, by the way.)
But, how did I really get here? By choice. After years of struggling with my body, dominating her with exercise and dieting, and feeling generally shitty about myself and my “German physique,” I became more interested in feeling better than wallowing or dominating. I became more interested in celebrating what was working instead of arguing for my body’s limitations and complaining about my circumstances. I simply grew tired of being uncomfortable with my size. I asked for peace and healing. I spent time working on my judgment, my bitterness. I routinely reminded myself of my abundant health and energy. I began looking for ways to love instead of hate. Simply put: I dropped my hands and quit fighting what my body wanted and in the process, I realized that my body was not wrong or flawed or out to get me. She just has her own consciousness, her own messages, wishes, rhythm, and her own way of getting my attention. I decided that she was trying to tell me something and I’d do well to listen. And, I did. So, after several years of this active, conscious choosing, I began to not only accept my body, but LOVE her. Deeply, lastingly, and truly. And, it feels so good to be here, my friends.
So, consider this: More than anything else, our bodies are an instrument for our expansion as souls. We could not do the work of being so deliciously human without our bodies. We could not get life lessons as fast as we do without a body. Our bodies want our approval. They deeply want our love and acceptance. They are like tender-hearted little children who want nothing more than to please us, to do our bidding, and show us the things of which they are capable. Our bodies want so desperately to know that we appreciate them and are willing to listen to them. They are BEGGING for our kind attention, our compassion, our encouragement.
Give your body what it’s asking for. Give yourself the compassion that you so readily give to other people and watch the world of who you are change in 30 days. I promise you this. If you simply say 10 nice things to your body every day, it will change your life. If that’s too hard in the beginning, you can maybe say to your body: “Well, you and I have had our differences, but I’m ready to listen to you now. I want to know what you think about the choices that I make.” Or, you can try saying something like: “Body, I often feel frustrated with you, but I think that’s because I have never accepted you as you are and I want to try. Let’s try this together.” Here’s the kicker: simply opening up a dialog with your body improves your outlook and health dramatically. Honest.
So, as for me, I now reserve most of my compassion for my own body. I still freely give compassion and love to others, but, I give it to myself first. I steady my own legs first. I right my own mind first. I praise myself first. And, that’s the really cool thing about this practice, there is no shortage of love. You cannot run out of compassion. The more compassion you generate and give to your body, the more centered and happy you feel and the more you have and want to give to others.