Feelings are the reason that anyone does anything. From holding someone’s hand to yelling at the guy who cut you off to buying a house to eating some ice cream for dinner, each of these actions are motivated by wanting to feel a certain way OR trying to avoid feeling something. Knowing this consciously is very powerful, especially if you are in the battle to love yourself and your body.
First, some definitions. For this writing, feelings/emotions are being used in the same way, in that they are both essentially vibrations we feel in different part of our body. Anxiety may be low, dark, and in the gut. Excitement is light, flittery, and in the head. Motivation is the desire to avoid or experience a particular feeling. All have heavy draw over our behavior.
Being confident with your body is a feeling. For me, it feels steady, warm, and is in my head. I can remember being a little kid when this feeling was second nature. There was no question that I would feel this way. The problems began when outside voices began to tell me I was wrong. The body shame started around nudity and then expanded to include my type of body, too. As I was exposed to more people, media, and ideas, it became very clear that because my body was not the visual ideal in this culture, that I AS A PERSON was viewed as wrong. It was the same healthy body but my feelings about it had changes drastically. It went from love and assurance to shame and hatred.
These negative emotions motivated me to indulge in behaviors that did not serve me well at all. I binged on junk food for comfort and purged to keep from gaining weight. I did well academically but I was painfully shy in school because I did not want to call attention to my body and myself. As I got older, I tried to diet and contort my shape into a socially acceptable one. I suffered from depression and anxiety, made worse because of my low self-esteem. At every new phase of my life, I was told it was a chance to finally get that weight under control and it kept me from enjoying those new experiences. I was self conscious with boys because I did not believe they would ever be interested in me because my body was so disgusting.
With just that glimpse into the first half of my life, you can see the power of feelings. But what if it had been different? What if I had learned that I did not have to let those outside voices affect me that way? That I didn’t have to listen to them? I could have kept that beautiful feeling of confidence in my body and myself and lived my life a totally different way. I listened because I didn’t know there was an option not to do so.
This is not about regret because all I went through when I was younger has led me to be the badass bitch that I am now. But how did I get here? I realized that my feelings were both more powerful and more important that any stupid shit being espoused in magazines or on TV. I figured out that if I could love for myself again, that I would act differently and change my life. That is exactly what happened.
It is not easy to stop listening when everything you hear is telling you that you are not good enough, but here is a question for you. What to you gain by paying attention and internalizing the negative feelings that society tried to impose on you? The answer is nothing good. It does not motivate you in any healthy way. It sucks your energy and power away from you. It limits the good you can do in the world because you are distracted by the pain. When you decide to stop paying attention, you get the time and energy to properly care for yourself and you feel better.
So, now that you know the power of emotions and the influence that they play on feeling good about your body, what do you do? Start with choosing a feeling that your want to have about your body. What about satisfied? Or content? What about proud? That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? There are many other feelings too so really think about it and pick what feels right for you.
Once you pick your feeling, stop listening to all those outside voices that will try to make you feel something else. Shut out the voices and start treating your body like you did back before you knew to be ashamed of it. Take that yoga class, wear that bodycon dress, talk to your crush from the coffee shop. Engage in activities that support your new feeling and it will grow and become stronger. Let your feelings help build your strength and your life can change too, I promise.
We will be talking feelings and a lot more at the retreat on Oct 7-10, 2016 in New Orleans, LA. Reserve your spot now!