Some of you might have already stopped and said to yourself, “But I’ve never loved myself!”
And while I would certainly validate that belief, I would challenge it, too. The relationship we have with our bodies is the longest one we will ever have – lasting from birth until the farthest point in the future we can imagine. And when this relationship began, it was like any other budding love: exciting and totally fascinating.
First, you got to know each other. You opened and closed your fists, grabbed things, put things in your mouth, touched your feet, put things in your mouth, touched people’s faces, and put things in your mouth again. The two of you learned to talk to each other and work together to get your needs met. Your stomach pained you to let you know you needed food, so you cried to help communicate that to someone who could feed you. As your relationship progressed, you might have gone through some tough times together. You might have felt your body had failed you — succumbing to disease, illness, fatigue, or even gravity. In return, your body fought valiantly to keep you alive through it all, releasing antibodies, putting you to sleep, and helping you get vertical again.
Somewhere along the way, you got the idea that your oldest friend, your lifetime partner, was somehow not doing enough for you. Like many partners, you began to take each other for granted and maybe even stopped communicating. And, perhaps, you forgot how to speak the secret language you had been speaking to each other since the day you first met.
Breakdowns in mind-body communication can present themselves in many different ways. Body image distress, distortions in self-perception, self-deprecation, or even some physical symptoms, like fatigue and loss of concentration resulting from inadequate nourishment or sleep, could be understood as manifestations of this rift.
So, what do we do about it?
We can start by acknowledging the hard work we do with our bodies every day.
Have you hugged someone today? Thank your arms for allowing you to communicate that affection or support. Did you sleep last night? Your body can thank you for helping refresh yourself. Listen to the pains, the feelings of comfort, fatigue, and euphoria. Your body is trying to talk to you, and no matter how many fights the two of you have, you will always be together.
Jan Mooney, MA, LMFTA
Therapeutic Assistant, Veritas Collaborative