Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Robert Butera, PhD and Jennifer Kreatsoulas, PhD, authors of the new Body Mindful Yoga.
Hundreds of descriptive names exist for the eyes, nose, teeth, legs, feet, arms, ears, hips, stomach, and more. As kids, we are often given nicknames based on our physical features, usually the awkward or “imperfect” ones. Some of our childhood nicknames make us smile, and others sting. We could ask you to mentally name a few parts of your body that cause you embarrassment or a few of your “imperfect” features that have been nicknamed by others (or yourself). You can probably name them very quickly. We know we can name ours!
Sometimes the labels we receive stick with us, making us self-conscious about our nicknamed imperfections. Or we might have been given nicknames based on positive qualities that we are also self-conscious about. Either way, if we’ve internalized these nicknames in certain ways, we can feel bad about certain body parts or features.
One of the most profound ways we lose hold of our personal power is through our language, especially when we negate instead of affirm, belittle instead of empower, chastise instead of validate ourselves. Our language is everything: it shapes our reality, reinforces our body image, and reflects how we feel about ourselves. How we absorb or internalize others’ words and how we speak to ourselves directly impacts our body image and self-esteem.
One powerful way to release the hold of body part nicknames is to make your uniqueness your physical fashion statement. Every part of you is unique. Every part of every living thing is unique. If unique is in, then we all win, all the time, all day, all year, for the rest of our lives.
So, let’s go with this perspective: Unique is in. To help you internalize this new belief, consider the statements below. Each one focuses on the archetypal power of a variety of body parts to help you see all aspects of yourself as divinely unique and amazing.
- My head is shaped perfectly to hold my brilliant brain.
- My ears are amazing capturers of sound waves.
- My eyes present the outside world in 3D color.
- My neck permits my head to move to and fro.
- My tongue facilitates digestion, swallowing, and speech.
- My smile and facial expressions communicate joy to the world.
- My shoulders anchor my arms and sturdy my back.
- My core muscles keep my body erect.
- My hips anchor my body.
- My thighs give me power.
- My knees provide adaptability.
- My feet connect me to the earth.
- My legs and glutes represent my power and strength.
- My body is wise.
To free yourself from dis-empowering attitudes related to nicknames and other areas of your life that cause you to question your self-worth or struggle with body image, practice integrating these types of affirming statements into your internal dialogue and conversations with others. By purposefully using language that values your unique qualities and acknowledges the expanse of your body’s natural wisdom, you will learn to validate yourself and affirm your body. The nicknames of old (and present) will lose their power, freeing you to be the unique individual you are.
Our thanks to Jennifer and Bob for their guest post! For more from Bob Butera and Jennifer Kreatsoulas, read their article, “No Pain, No Gain? 3 Body-Mindful Practices to Get Yourself Off of the Hamster Wheel.”