Learning to Love Your Body
Updated: Jul 31, 2021
Society tells us to love our bodies. But in reality, it's not always possible for a lot of people. Love is built from trust, or so the adage goes, and from that trust, one develops a sense of safety.
And yet, feeling unsafe or losing trust with one's own body is more common than you may think. If you don't feel safe within your own body, it can be difficult to love it. There are countless reasons why people find living in their bodies unsafe, each based on their own individual experiences.
In my own life, I've experienced many bouts of significant disconnection and lack of trust in my own body. These bouts sprang from my own journey of healing from complex PTSD. Just as people often express a desire to escape their minds from dark, negative, looping thoughts, I had times when I wished to run away from my own body. It was not a place that I could trust; it was not a place that was safe.
The desire to escape my body quickly turned to hatred. Being disconnected from my body and self was a way of survival. That state of being was way more comfortable, as being present in it was overwhelming sometimes. To avoid my body, I found myself wearing clothes several sizes too big. For one, it allowed me to hide. For another, clothes against my skin felt painful. That's because my overdriven central nervous system was in a state of hyperarousal. I also found myself showering in the dark so that I couldn't see myself. I found myself deliberately making my body sick with food. I was making unconscious choices that incited harm onto my body.
For me, the path to loving my body and self, perhaps for the first time ever, began with establishing safety and trust with it. Quite frankly, that's a work in progress and a journey in itself. Embodiment practices have been instrumental in reconnecting with my body and developing relational safety.
I quickly became a yoga practitioner who went to her mat to feel, not necessarily to do. Through Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga practice, I started to pay attention to the sensations I did or didn't feel. Yoga helped me become aware of the disassociation, and I learned to use it as a tool to come back.
From this practice of noticing, I began to see the signs of panic attacks. It allowed me to counter these signs before the attacks became full-blown. I started to focus on the things my body could do. It created in me a sense of gratitude for my functioning aspects. I became empowered to notice what I felt or didn't feel without any judgment. From that place, I began to make choices on what I do and don't want to do with my body.
All those things helped create safety and trust within my own body.