How to make peace with your body [+ the election outcome]
This week has been shaking.No matter which candidate you were rallying for I think the outcome of this election shocked everyone who's been even just slightly paying attention to the election trends.
I have never felt as discouraged, disheartened and afraid as when I woke up to the news Wednesday morning. Afraid for my own future but even more so for my friends and family who don't have the privilege of being straight, white, cis, having money, or being a man.
There is so much hatred and disagreement everywhere you look right now- it's literally draining. It's started to make me seriously question how we as a nation are going to navigate through this and come out on the other side(fingers-crossed) a better place to reside.
The Peace Making Process
All of this got me to thinking about how one does go about making peace. What even is 'peace'? What is the process? How do you maintain it? And can this process be applied to both external and internal battles?
In other words, Can this peace making process be universal whether we're talking about making peace as a nation or making peace with our own bodies?
So let's talk about how we can begin to make peace with our bodies- right where they are today. Not 5 pounds less from now. Not 3 sizes smaller. Our present day intuitive, capable, beautiful bodies.
Maybe this definition is different for each one of you, but as Merriam-Webster puts it Peace is freedom from civil disturbance; a state of quiet and tranquility
You know that little voice in your head all the time saying things like: "You're too fat" "You're too thin" "You don't work out enough" "A man is never going to want you while you look like this" "X food is the enemy" "New diet X diet will help you get rid of your ugly stubborn belly fat" "You could totally be eating healthier" "That french fry is not [insert fad diet here] approved"
...YEAH. That voice- I also like to call this the inner critic That voice is the "civil disturbance" going on between you and your body.
Wouldn't it be nice to feel free from that voice? To find that quiet slice of tranquility in your mind?
What's the process?
01. Acknowledge the 'civil disturbance' Whether we're talking about war between countries or the war we're waging on ourselves and our bodies daily there is always a conflict; a civil disturbance at the root of it all.
When that critical voice goes unnoticed and unchecked for a while, things start to get out of hand. The voice begins to have a major impact on the way you feel about your own worth and what you deserve in this life.
In order to get the voice in check you've first got to acknowledge it. Just realize that it's there. Whatever you do don't judge it as good or bad- that will only make things worse Just begin to notice when it starts to show up the most in your life. What's going on externally for you in those moments? What's going on internally for you in those moments? Notice that it's there, wave hello then goodbye, and move the eff on to something else bigger and brighter and more serving.
02. Reframe the conflict If you can first acknowledge the disturbance (the critical voice) and then start to rethink what the disturbance is really about (aka what the inner critic is saying) you can start to change the story you're telling yourself.
For example, if one of the main things the voice keeps jabbering on about is the fact that your belly is bigger than you'd like- I use this because this is typically the case for almost every woman I know- start getting curious about that.
Start asking yourself why that's the story the voice is telling. Why does having a flatter belly matter to you so much? What is that going to do for you? Is achieving that going to help you achieve one of your bigger aspirations? What if no matter how hard you tried your belly never looked the way you wanted it to.....
These are some serious questions that force you to get real with yourself about what the voice is telling you- and why you're listening to it in the first place. Reframing the conflict/ disturbance/ voice/ inner critic helps give you some perspective on the real story that may otherwise feel cloudy.
03. Identify solutions So we've identified the civil disturbance- the inner critic and the story it's telling. We've talked about shifting how we view the disturbance- figuring out what's really underneath and reframing your viewpoint. Now let's talk about finding solutions.
Easier said than done of course. Let's go back to the belly example: Maybe you discovered that having a flatter belly has been so important to you because you're the only woman in your family that has a bigger belly. Deep sh*t. Maybe your mother, your sisters, your best friends are all fairly thin, leaving you as the odd woman out. And maybe you realized that because of being different, all along you've been feeling like you've had to try extra hard to have your voice heard.
Woah. That's a very uncomfortable thought. Having to come to terms with the fact that the people you care about most aren't giving you the space you need to feel heard is unlike anything you've probably had to face before. So now what?
Now is when you ask yourself how to fix this problem- the real problem. How do you go about getting heard?
Maybe you call a family dinner and bring it up to them openly over a bottle of wine. Maybe you sit down individually and talk about some of the stuff that's been going on with your head and your body and that turns into a conversation about your relationship. Maybe you identify and share some of the triggers that awaken the inner critic. Maybe it means you start finding ways to build the confidence in order to have those conversations. Maybe it means you distance yourself from unsupportive people and build stronger connections with the people who make you feel lighter.
Do not underestimate the power of writing out these solutions- and getting extremely clear. Put the pen to paper. Get super specific about what is going to help you solve the real problem. And finally, put the solutions into action.
04. Forgive and move the eff on You know what the real disturbance is and the story it's telling you. You also know there's a at least one solution ready to be put into action. But there is something to be said about taking a deep breath in and letting all the self-hatred, negative self-talk, "I can't's" and "I should've's" and guilt go. You do not need to feel guilty about asking for what you need; you do not need to feel guilty about changing your mind or choosing your own path; you do not need to feel guilty about past and present decisions. That guilt is still the inner critic trying to reel you back in. Do. Not. Let. It.
Remember that there is a beautiful world waiting for you to make your mark, and that's never going to happen when you're continually falling victim to the conflict; when you're continually falling victim to your own self limiting beliefs.
You're allowed to hurt and you're allowed to question everything. But you're not allowed to dwell and do nothing about the conflict at hand when you already have the tools to remedy it.
05. Establish incentives for sustainability This one is for keeping the conflict from arising again (or in our case, from arising as often) Most conflict resolutions end in some sort of compromise; typically held in place by incentives. If you know the real conflict, you've shifted the way you're viewing the conflict, and you're putting your solutions to work, sometimes you just need a little reminder of your why and some sort of incentive to keep motivated.
Why are you working toward finding inner peace in the first place? What exactly does that look like for you? GET SPECIFIC! What can your life look like once you no longer have to deal with this disturbance (the voice)?
Again- put your pen to paper and make it big. Remind yourself of your why. Remind yourself of how amazing you're going to feel once you're not falling victim to the voice. Make them bold and pretty and real. Put those reminders somewhere you're going to see them every day to keep yourself accountable.
Back to the belly example one more time- I know it's probably getting old but bare with me. You're finally feeling more content with your body and your relationships (after you opened up a bit) and have never been better. But as time goes on you're not quite as focussed and mindful of the triggers that come about- eventually reigniting that inner critic.
But because you're superwoman and were proactive you took the time to write yourself a love letter about all the amazing things you deserve in this life and you've posted it on every mirror in your house, every day, staring you in the face is a reminder of the life you deserve and all you need to do is
make peace with your body + food Acknowledge the conflict/ inner critic Keep curious about what's going on under the surface- what's the real story being told? Develop resolutions to the true underlying conflicts Breathe and let that sh*t go And remind yourself over and over of the life you want & deserve Repeat
This is your incentive. Your happiness is your incentive. Your dreams coming true is your incentive. Your inner peace and tranquility of mind is your incentive.
All of those reasons, in my honest opinion, are way more incentive than fitting into a smaller pant size will ever be.
And to the question of whether the peace making process is applicable to both inner and external conflicts- I truly believe it is. We have to start examining the real root of the problems within ourselves and within our culture rather than just what is lying on the surface in order to move beyond the hatred and violence.