As a person that relates to the world with trauma brain, safety is always my number one priority. In the past, I would have even wagered to say that safety was my number one priority in every area. However, in all honesty, safety in my physical body had never occurred to me until I was at a spiritual retreat with an amazingly angelic healer.
It literally felt like a ton of bricks had suddenly hit me! I felt blindsided and ill prepared simultaneously! In an emotional state of tears, that I will never forget, I looked at my amazing mentor and uttered the most dreaded words: I'm not sure I've ever felt safe in my physical body! And there it was. In that very powerful moment I had begun the process to take my power back and reclaim the safety in my body.
The fact that I had never experienced physical safety may sound like an exaggeration to most...but it's very much not for me! Four times before I was a year old I suffered from bacterial pneumonia. My physical body was a constant state of me wanting and aiming for one thing, and my body doing the exact opposite. My weight could be another prime example of this. You see, I don't over eat... I don't binge... I don't obsess about food. However I have set the stage for my body to glom onto weight by: starving myself excessively and purging any amount of food I put in (while simultaneously restricting massively). Most recently, I've been offered a diagnosis of chronic neurological Lyme disease. I can't think of any more examples of betrayal at its finest!
And then my perception was challenged. Many months ago, I was informed that my perception was inaccurate. The fact is (which has been confirmed by specialists) that my weight is a direct result of my body storing toxins. Let me make this abundantly clear for a moment: my perception had been that my body was constantly betraying me and screwing with me by not dropping the weight! However, in reality the weight was a result of my body loving me so much and wanting to protect me so much; that it just keeps absorbing/storing the toxins to keep them from harming me.
So what does safety in your physical body look like? It might be easier for me to describe what it doesn't look like: it doesn't look like constantly battling with putting your body down, it doesn't look like self hatred, it doesn't look like neglecting your body, it doesn't look like trying to destroy your body. Conversely, it does look like: self-acceptance, self-love, accepting and loving your body right here right now, and supporting and nurturing your body.
I'm sure the question in your mind currently is: how did I go from abusing and neglecting my body (all the while restricting food massively) to loving, fueling, and honoring my body? The following are the methods I used to achieve this state of symbiosis with my body:
Recognize that absolutely no body is perfect! Do you doubt these words to be accurate? Let's take a look at all the super models whose photos are "touched up" at best. I've come to realize that every female body has rolls and areas of displeasure. How different would our lives be if we all accepted and loved our bodies a million percent AS IS?
Focus on your strengths: This will be easier for some than others. Let me be perfectly candid for a moment. Every single body alive has positive assets. For example, my body houses my phenomenal and powerful soul! If it's too much of a challenge to focus on the strengths of your physical body focus on those characteristics you like. For example: I love how soft my hair is, I appreciate how many freckles I have (everywhere!!), and my nails are a source of strength.
Gratitude is a game changer: I prefer the format (from Rhonda Byrn) I am grateful for _______________ because_________. The non traumatized brain is incapable of maintain dual focus. So you can't experience resentment/ rage towards your body while simultaneously holding onto the gratitude of it.
Meditation: I think we live in a very noisy society in which we are constantly stimulated. The best was to silence your mind, is to very simply just focus on your breathing...In and out...Notice how the inhale breathe feels and notice how the exhale breathe feels.
Make a decision: Sitting in Canada, I still wasn't convinced 100% that my physical body was completely safe. However, I did decide to act as if my body was safe. I began living my life as if my physical body is completely safe. It was a complete game changer for me!
Reject suggestions to the contrary: In the world that we live in, women are constantly being bombarded with negative diatribe about their physical bodies. For example: you are not thin enough, you are not sexy enough, you are not feminine enough, you are not daring enough...and the list goes on and on. What if you are good enough exactly where you are? I'm a firm believer in rejecting people's suggestion that don't match your agenda. What have you got to lose? It's seriously as simple as every time you receive a suggestion just saying (even in your head) " I reject that suggestion"
Self-Hypnosis: Because it's natural, normal and the majority of people are using it every day. The other benefit is that it's one of the quickest ways to reprogram your subconscious mind. Plus, it has a ton of health benefits and at this point is a no brainer. Using self-hypnosis was literally a game changer in my own life for a variety of issues.
Mirror Work: Trust me when I tell you I understand your reluctance and dread to doing mirror work. In my own life, I had achieved the ability to just look at my hair or my teeth or my shirt in the mirror. But is that really helping? I doubt it. IN fact, I would even wager that these types of behaviors reinforce negative subconscious mind programming of negative body image. Despite all of the resistance that has come up as a result of this suggestion here's what I'm recommending: every morning, look in the mirror and say (while looking into your eyes) "Good morning beautiful! I love you! Have a great day!"
If feeling safe in your own body is a struggle (or if you've already mastered this issue, I would love to hear from you at Jenn@JennBoveeLCSW.com.