picture: khiemmosehee (CC0 Public Domain)
Nothing in this world can be nearly more harming than having body image issues and steaming from that the feeling of hate towards your body. Even though there is this giant scene of people promoting certain body types (the slim, the fit, the muscular, the tall,..) and the other scene fighting that and promoting the dropping of all these standards, there is still no improvement in our society when it comes to relationship every individual has towards their body.
Why there are still so many people having body image issues and what to do about it will be discussed in this article.
Body Image Issues- The reality
Studies show that a huge percentage of men and woman are unsatisfied with their body. While this is not a problem enough, a huge percentage of these people is also quiet unhealthy regarding their weight, their health, and their food intake. So logically you could say “Ok if this is not the ideal body, you should have a reason to hate it”.
Here, it’s really important to understand that being obese and having access fat is not optimal for the body. But the thing that most people don’t get is that they will not start dropping weight and getting rid of fat by going on a crazy diet or just by hating and punishing themselves enough.
What access fat means on a spiritual level
Fat, on a spiritual Level, has two purposes: It stores physical and emotional toxins and fat serves as a kind of protective shield. Let’s explore this a little deeper:
All the access fat you have on your body is a storage for toxins. Physically this means that your body wants to keep all the toxins away from the vital organs, that’s why access fat is going outwards (so people are getting bigger externally, not internally between the organs). Also, in that access fat, you store rejected or buried emotions and traumas. So whenever you make any move to get rid of access fat, you will have to deal with emotions and traumas coming up because you are literally working on getting these toxins out of your body. And in order to create a real lasting change in weight, you have to have a (spiritual) practice of integrating and resolving these stored emotions and traumas.
The second aspect is that fat serves as a kind of protection for your emotional system. That menas that you are trying to protect yourself emotionally from the outside world and this manifest in the form of fat as a physical protection. I personally had a phase where I was overweight (not much but still access fat). As I was evolving on my spiritual path I realized that the access fat I have was serving as a protection to the outside world. I literally had an emotional wall between people and me, which then manifested in the physical weight.
So if you really struggle with access weight, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions:
1. What aspect of me am I trying to hide from the world?
2. How am I not acting authentically in my life?
3. In what situations do I shut off emotionally and go into a defense mode?
4. How am I not fully letting people into my energy field? How am I blocking and getting rid of people?
To help you with the answers, here are my answers that I had when I was 19 years old and struggling with access weight:
My spiritual aspect.
- I always felt ashamed for meditation and talking about all these spiritual concepts. I have this huge passion which involves studying all these spiritual concepts and I never talk to it about someone.
- I always practice and study at home in my little room, not even my parents knew about it.
- When someone is asking me personal questions or I have to ask personal questions. Also when someone is trying to create a deep intimate connection with me.
- I usually push them away physically by creating distance and emotionally by changing the topic to a random theme to talk about.
Answering these questions is enough to bring some awareness to why you have that access fat.
The devil cycle
Getting back to the original topic of body image issues and why you really hate your body puts us into the place where we have to understand a certain dynamic:
Your physical body reflects your emotional body. So you constantly hating yourself on an emotional level, will be reflected on the physical level which will give you even more reasons to hate yourself. This creates this bad cycle.
Ending the cycle is not an easy task. Going on a diet to change the physical will not solve the problem, because you still have that bad emotional relationship with your body. So a diet might eventually produce a temporary result, but not a long-term result if you don’t change your relationship with your body.
How to change your self-image
The only way to stop hating your body is to start loving it. And if love is too much at the moment, begin by accepting it. Because as the body is reflecting your emotional states, it will change the more you start accepting and loving it.
But this takes some real practice and depending on how long you have been struggling with self-hate, it also takes some time. But on this path, I really encourage you to believe in the long-term change you are about to create. So here are some exercises that help you to create a better relationship with your body that.
Exercise: Neutral mirror
This exercise just sets a neutral ground for all the other exercises. Here, you are not asked to love the body, but to simply observe, accept and surrender to any emotions.
- Set yourself a timer for 10 minutes.
- Stand naked in front of the mirror.
- Start the timer and look at your body.
- Just observe it.
- Feel any emotional reactions you have (such as rejection, blame, shame) and fully feel them.
- Be present with all the emotions coming up and keep looking at yourself while doing that.
- Set all judgments and critics aside.
- Stay with that practice for the full 10 minutes.
** If you are struggling with serious self-hate issues, practice this mirror exercise every morning for the next 7 days straight.
Exercise: Obvious appreciation
If you struggle with deep self-hate, this exercise will benefit you highly. Because what you are going to focus on are obvious things about your body that are easy to love, such as “thank you legs for always taking me everywhere”. This appreciation for these obvious parts of your body will create a huge shift in your energy which then emanates out into other parts.
- Sit down in a meditative posture or lay down and relax your body.
- Let go of any pressure and tension you hold.
- If you are ready, scan your body from the body and try to feel into your feet.
- Feel your feet and send some love and gratitude to the feet and affirm a sentence that helps you magnify these feelings such as “Thank you feels for caring me everywhere I need to go”, “I love your feet for being so strong and for being such a solid foundation in my life”
- Spend some time in this area and when you are ready, move your way up your legs.
- Send the energy of love and appreciation to your legs and affirm something, they obviously do for you to magnify these emotions (Don’t focus on the physical appearance) such as: “I love my legs for being so strong and flexible, they enable me to jump, squat, run, walk, sit,..” Or “Thank you knees for being so flexible and letting me bend my legs”
- Do this exercise all the way from the bottom to the top of your body.
Exercise: Loving your body
This exercise can be challenging for people who are seriously struggling with self-hate but I invite you to try it and see if it works for you. This exercise will focus on actually loving the parts of your body you hate most. Because the only way you can create a real lasting change in those areas is by really loving these parts unconditionally.
When I started this practice I had no reason to love these areas of my body. But I stuck to the practice and my body transformed in the long run.
- Stand in front of a mirror.
- Look at yourself and feel the first feelings that come up.
- Do you feel resistance? Do you feel hate or shame? If so, allow these emotions to come up and relax into them.
- When you feel a sense of relief, bring your attention to your heart space.
- Feel the warmth of your heart. Feel the beating and the love that is going out with every heartbeat.
- Now focus on an area you don’t like about your body (like your belly, your hips, your arms, your legs) and feel the initial resistance coming up.
- Surrender and be fully present with these emotions for a while.
- Now focus on your heart space again and try to direct the energy of love and appreciation you brought up in the beginning to these areas.
- Keep sending that energy.
- Do that with as many body parts as you want.
** I highly encourage you to make that a daily practice for the next few weeks. It is really really important. If you are not doing any of the above practices, do this and focus on it.
Besides all of these exercises, I highly encourage you to take a look at my article on “Self-love: Why your self-love practice isn’t working” and really practicing some of these exercises.