I Can't Love My Body Because I Hate It
It can be hard to feel good about your body in a society that is obsessed with perfect images, but it can be especially hard if you feel your body has betrayed you. If your body hasn't provided you with the ability, health, or fertility you expected, you might be angry - angry about your situation and angry at your body. Some days, you might even hate your body, which is not a fun situation to be in because your body goes everywhere you do. There's no escape. How can you feel at home in a body that you're upset with? What can you do to start to make peace with, and maybe even care for, the body that disappoints you but is still very much yours?
Rachel Tuchman, LMHC, a very wise colleague of mine, highlights how you can work to change the experience of living in your body.
The longest relationship we have is with our bodies. The reality is, we won't always feel good about ourselves.
Body love is a nice concept but it's not always realistic. It may not be possible to love your body every day or even at all. This is especially true if your feel like your body has failed you because of a chronic condition or some other body-related grief. That's okay.
Respect is a core element of any healthy relationship and practicing acceptance is a large part of how we get to respect.
Body respect tends to be a more realistic goal, especially for people who experience body grief due to things like chronic illness, infertility, etc.
Body respect can mean: I won't be so hung up on the day to day of my body. I can value myself and the space I take up regardless of what my body is going through.
This can include giving space to the negative feelings you have about your body. Having compassion for yourself on those harder days and just letting the feelings be there without judgement can be a powerful way to help the feelings pass.
How do we speak to ourselves? Shame and grief will be there. Don't try to push them away. Name them. "I'm feeling angry today." "I'm feeling like a failure as a woman."
Notice the thoughts and feelings and ask yourself if those thoughts serve you.
Do these thoughts motivate you? Do they help you? Do they make things better?
What is your narrative? Is it kind and supportive?
Change the way you speak about your body. We can interrupt our thought patterns and create new ones (known as neuroplasticity).
This won't change the reality of your body but it can change the way you interact with your body.
Please take care to put up boundaries and NOT take advice from other people on how to make your condition better. Though usually well-meaning, this can make you feel like you are to blame for your body. "Thanks for the concern but I'm working with my doctor to manage my condition and I trust their guidance."
Self care rituals are really important. This doesn't mean bubble baths ( unless you like those). It means paying attention to what makes you feel good mentally and what stresses you out.
Pay attention to your social media, the WhatsApp chats you are on, the things you read and listen to. Do they make you feel worse about yourself? Do they feel supportive?
We only have one body. Hating is doesn't help; why not try respecting it?
Rachel Tuchman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) with over ten years of experience. She has worked with many diverse populations including incarcerated women at Riker's Island Correctional Facility, kids and adults with developmental delays, kids with behavior issues, overwhelmed parents looking for skills and support, teens struggling with the pressures of adolescence and life in general, adults going through difficult life circumstances (divorce, infidelity, phase of life challenges) and women experiencing infertility.
Rachel is HAES (Health At Every Size) aligned clinician and dedicates a lot of her time out of office to educating parents and kids on the importance of body respect and the behaviors that truly honor our health.
Currently, she offers services in her Cedarhurst, NY office for kids and teens, adults, and women experiencing infertility, pregnancy loss and post hysterectomy.
Rachel also does speaking engagements for schools, synagogues and various community organizations. You can find out more about Rachel at https://www.racheltuchman.com/.