This article is part 3 in a series called Re-imaging Body Image. Part 1 shares why positive body image is the wrong goal and part 2 reveals the secret to loving your body. Click here for part 1, and click here for part 2.
No carbs after 3pm. You can only have dessert if you burn at least 700 calories at the gym. Hunger pains are a sign of weakness- ignore them. No fitted shirts if the scale is over 170. Only get cheese on your food if other people are.
These, along with many more, are “rules” I’ve had at various points in my life about my body. I thought it was normal. Other people did it. And there was a strange sort of satisfaction in controlling myself and my body in these ways. Because no matter what else was happening, I could stay in charge of my body and myself.
Look at those rules one more time. Or if any of your own came to mind, take a look. Every single one of those rules is conditional on something outside of myself, and outside if the present moment.
As you know, the secret to loving and honoring your body is presence. And all of these rules are preset. Something to fit into, regardless of what’s present. Rules that are rigid, to be followed no matter what, and when broken lead to judgment and punishment.
To illustrate what this looks like, I want to share with you some of the journey of my client Lori. When Lori came to me, she knew there was something off in the way she related with her body.
Over the course of our work together, it came to light that she had created all sorts of rules for herself around what her body was allowed to do or not do, and just how much they were restricting her ability to be LORI.
Some of these rules included:
- Not getting up to go to the bathroom when she needed to.
- Not bringing lunch to work with her because of what she thought “lunch food” had to be.
- Not drinking when she was thirsty or eating when she was hungry- until it got to the point where she had to.
- Only exercising when there was no one around to judge her.
- Waiting to order food until the other person did and adjusting her order accordingly.
What we discovered is that these rules allowed her to feel like she was in control, and that she got pleasure from denying her body what it needed. There is a sense of heroism in our society when we can have power over our bodies- as if controlling her and exerting the will of the mind over her needs is somehow superior than having to answer to her appetites and desires.
Lori realized that losing that control and being at the mercy of her body was one of her biggest fears.
The female, animal body is considered dangerous in our society. It may not be stated outright, but all of the focus on sexualizing, reducing, controlling, and shaping is a response to the uneasiness we have around the power of the fully actualized feminine.
There is unlimited sexual and creative power within the female body. And keeping that power under control and at an acceptable level had been running Lori’s entire life. She has spent countless amounts of time and energy trying to quiet her body down and get it to shut up so she could function in her day to day life.
But her day to day life was not the way she wanted it. She felt muted, a shadow of her former self, and uncomfortable in her body. All of that energy spent trying to control her power led her to living a shell of the life she truly desired.
Like many women, Lori put off changing for years. It can be scary to shake up the foundations of safety we function with in our society. But now?
The last couple calls I had with Lori, she shared with me that she feels more creative and rooted in her body than ever.
She realized her body will do exactly what it needs to as soon as her mind gets out of the way, and actually enjoys tuning in and asking her what she needs.
She started swimming, dancing for no reason, and playing with her food.
She’s practicing enjoying being looked at.
She decided she’s going to “spend the rest of her life not being appropriate” and being badass instead.
How is this possible?
Because Lori decided to start breaking the rules.
First she did the work- she spent time becoming aware and observing her own thought processes and patterns. And then she decided to choose a different experience.
She decided to be different and not hold herself back anymore, and to get the support she needed in making these changes.
And that process is exactly what I want to share with you.
This coming Monday, June 22nd at 5p pacific/ 8p eastern I’m hosting a free training called Break These Rules: The 5 Ways Women Hold Themselves Back From Pleasure, Self-Expression, and Freedom.
We are going to break down the most common areas and ways women keep their power on lockdown, how to break them, and why it’s possible for you to choose a different experience for your body and yourself right now.
To join in on the call, click here to register.
Let’s break the rules and be wild and free together!