Happy Love Your Body Day! I encourage you to sign the Body Warrior Pledge as a conscious commitment to love your body (added bonus: someone who signs it is going to get a little Beautiful You care package). Now, I want to offer a few thoughts about loving your body and your self.
The other day at dinner, Happy was asking me about my work teaching big kids (not little kids like him). I asked him if he knew what I taught.
“Do you teach them about circles?”
I guess he was thinking about when we draw together. And I laughed (because I was recalling my struggles in geometry) and answered, “Now, that would be funny.” But then I told him what I do in what I hoped was language that a four year old could understand.
“You know what I teach? I teach them how to like themselves. Do you like yourself?”
And overcome with clarity, my sweet little boy, yelled, “Yes!” with as many exclamation points of enthusiasm punctuating his declaration as were possible.
His joy in himself touched me and then a darker thought came into my mind, “I need to help him protect that.” Because at some point, many of us lose that self-love.
When do we lose it exactly?
I could answer those two questions with what all the studies say. I read those studies almost daily; I teach those studies; I have done some of that studying.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
Today, I want to talk about why it matters that we get it back.
Recently, a dear friend shared this quote with me:
As we become gentler with ourselves, it is natural for us
to have a deeper compassion for others
and to live with true grace.
The quote really struck me because the instruction we are being given in it is actually the opposite of what so many of us do. Traditionally, we don’t start by offering ourselves compassion. We start by giving it out, until we are empty of compassion and there isn’t any left to give to ourselves. Done in that way, compassion is finite. It gives out. We deem everyone else worthy and leave ourselves suffering, hungry for it. Too bad, we tell ourselves. Do better next time and then I might be able to throw myself a bone. We can only have our own compassion when we are exceptional. And, yet, our neighbor, our sister, our child, our partner, our friend, our parents, the cab driver, the grocery store stock person all get it on general principle. We know that’s right when it comes to them. We just can’t bridge that distance to ourselves, to our own humanity.
When our compassion is only able to be handed out, it is finite. But here’s the thing: when we allow our compassion to take root within us, it is limitless.
Imagine compassion as an oak tree with roots that spread like tentacles under grass and asphalt and concrete. Roots that keep going, quietly taking in their nutrients from the soil, so that the tree itself can keep expanding out, so those branches can keep growing. The oak’s roots aren’t minimal little things. They are as intricate, as detailed, as the canopy above the surface. The oak tree can only provide more and more cover because its roots are healthy, because its roots are sustained. Cut those roots off and you learn the truth. While the tree can sustain itself for a bit longer, it will give out. It will crash down, broken, unsustainable.
What do your compassion roots look like?
Keep watering every other tree but your own and you know what happens. Isn’t it ironic that to keep giving so abundantly, we actually have to give to ourselves, we have to sustain ourselves? When you understand that, everything can change. You can begin by meeting your own needs, being kind to your own self and you realize that meeting your needs, being self-accepting isn’t selfish at all. It sustains you; it strengthens your energy for the journey. It allows you to do more of what you want to do out in the world, perhaps with less effort, because your root system is thriving.
Today is Love Your Body Day, but the importance of loving your body, your life, your self should be an earnest, every day experience. Root yourself today and then keep watering.
What will you do today to embrace self-compassion? And how can that change you?
By Rosie Molinary on October 16, 2012