I often get asked, “how long did it take you to love your body?”
Everyone’s path will be different. However, I’m going to share 5 things I’ve learned in working with clients over the years, as well as through my own experience.
To be honest, the word ‘body love’ makes me cringe because we are so much more than our bodies and you don’t need to like every physical aspect of yourself to love yourself. So let’s talk about self-love because the end goal is to take the focus away from your body and cultivate an overall sense of inner peace.
Self-love means having unconditional love and compassion for yourself. It’s about feeling connected and whole and no longer seeing your body as a separate entity that dictates your emotional well-being and happiness.
As you are on your journey to self-love, here are 5 things I can offer you:
#1) Self-love is a complex masterpiece and requires patience. It is not a diet.
If you have been a part of the dieting clusterfudge, then you tend to expect big changes in short periods of time. You ‘eat clean’ for 14 days and your smaller jeans fit again. As humans, we like immediate rewards, which is one of the reasons why detoxes or ‘eat this for X days’ are so popular.
The input is food, the output is your body changing and success is contingent on how your body changes.
Conversely, self-love is a complex masterpiece made up of so many different layers, inputs and outputs. There are huge rewards, but they are often less tangible and not always immediate.
This is why patience is so important!
#2) The journey to self-love has many ups and downs.
The journey to accepting and loving yourself looks more like Bambi learning to skate through a labyrinth* blindfolded. It’s messy and full of ups and downs.
It is the furthest thing from linear. Some days it feels like you’ve taken 3 steps forward and then 5 steps back. Sometimes you feel a euphoric sense of peace and it’s incredible. Then in a few days you are right back at square one hating the woman staring back at you in the mirror.
The beauty of this process is that with each set back you learn more about yourself, appreciate how far you have come and become better equipped to surf the rough waves in the future.
*If only David Bowie primed with hairspray and spandex could be a Self Love Goblin King…All hail!
#3) There is no “there”.
I would be a complete fraud if I told you that you’d hit a point where you love yourself every day. We are human and that means we have moments of suffering and self-flagellation.
The truth is your doppelganger never goes away completely. If it’s not bitching about your body it’ll be on your case about something else… relationships, career choices, forgetting to record the Bruce Jenner special etc. etc. It’s part of ourselves that never goes away.
BUT, through the process of learning to love yourself, you learn how to manage and respond to that voice so that it’s not holding you back from having the life you want.
#4) To see how far you’ve come, you must reflect back.
Self-love breakthroughs are smaller and generally less noticeable until you start to pay attention to how far you’ve come.
You might go on a vacation and realize afterwards that you didn’t stress about what you were eating or wearing a bikini. You might go shopping and buy loud pants, later realizing you never would have done that before. You might take on a new hobby without even noticing that it’s because you have so much more mental space now that you aren’t stressing about making cauliflower rice for dinner.
#5) Everyone moves at their own pace.
Because we are working with a complex masterpiece, everyone’s inputs are going to be different and therefore everyone’s pace will be different.
For some women when they decide to unconditionally love themselves, it feels like a switch flips very quickly and they are suddenly on the right trajectory towards self-love. For other women, this takes much longer.
Withholding comparison to others and respecting your own pace will serve you well.
In my experience, optimism, a good community and support network, your willingness to devote time to self-care, your ability to tap into your inner voice of compassion (what I like to call your Inner Heroine) and your courage to be vulnerable and step outside of your comfort zone are the things that can lessen the bumps in the road.
For myself, it probably took a couple years to truly get to a place of peace and connectedness with my body and I still notice little triumphs.
What has the journey been like for you? What do you need help with? I’d love to know so I can help you. Sound off in the comments below!