I’ve become painfully aware of how often, over the course of one day, I make body judgments.
Me, from the perspective of my love handles.
Once I really started paying attention, I noticed how rarely an hour goes by in which I don’t find myself judging, comparing, envying, speculating, scolding… I make countless judgments about my roommate’s thighs, my sister’s waist, the girl who pours my coffee’s arms, and (duh) my own body in comparison. It’s gotten to the point where I am afraid to go to yoga, due to the glistening six packs and never-been-chafed thighs surely waiting for me there.
The other day, my therapist suggested I come up with some affirmations, some positive, individualized statements that I can repeat to myself in these circumstances, when I find myself comparing or judging. “Ultimately, as you continue repeating them, they’ll begin to be true!” she said. I held back a scoff.
The word “affirmation” invariably makes me think of Charlotte from Sex and the City (the crazy one!). I’m not gonna go around spewing some new-age mantra, and tiptoeing through the self-help section. It hasn’t gotten to that point yet! Right?
Well, maybe it has. I started yesterday, and the affirmation of the day was: I accept my body.
It’s kind of nuts how many judgments can present themselves in the mere moments between waking up and dragging yourself to the bathroom. I think I repeated that statement at least five times before I even got out of bed (in my head, of course. I could summon the courage to say “I accept my body” aloud only once yesterday.)
The thing is, how are these judgments serving us?
The world wouldn’t end if we abstained from turning and lifting our shirts in the mirror to monitor muffin-tops, or if we refrained from gathering our tummy fat together in our hands. Our bodies aren’t malicious, half-inflated balloons waiting patiently for that window free of body-checking when they can blow up beyond recognition. Our bodies are on our team.
I don’t know how the start of your morning generally goes, but mine go something like this:
I wake up. I throw the covers off, lift up my shirt and look down at my stomach. Is it bulging more than it was last night? Does my underwear look tighter? I squeeze my tummy fat. Then, still laying on my back, I bend my knees and look at my thighs. Are they inching closer together? I try to remember what they looked like when my favorite cutoff shorts fit comfortably. Surely much less triangular. I then get out of bed, walk a few paces, turn and lift my shirt in the mirror… don’t get me started on mirrors.
I think you get the idea. Maybe you can even relate to some degree.
So, basically, yesterday morning went something like this: I accept my body, I accept my body, I accept my body, I accept my body, I accept my body…
I can’t say just yet whether these affirmations will work, or what “working” even entails, necessarily… but I will keep at it and keep you posted. Though I will say, there was one encouraging moment. Towards 8pm, I finally got so fed up with repeating the statement that I changed without looking critically in the mirror or body-checking at all. I just changed clothes and walked out of the room. Less opportunity for judgment. It was kind of liberating – and, hey, it actually saved quite a bit of time.
Do you notice yourself making constant judgments? How do they serve you? Have you ever experimented with affirmations?