February is the month of love … But as we cherish our loved ones with hearts, cards, and roses, it is also time to pay attention to our most important relationship: the one we have with our own body.
We have to begin to love our body unconditionally as we create permanent, positive results… and they key is self-forgiveness!
As we embark upon our healthy journey, we can be relentless when it comes to self-criticism and contempt for ourself and our body. We must let go of guilt and shame about our appearance or how we have not looked after our body, it is only by embracing a world of love and positivity that helps us create the healthy body we want and deserve. And for anyone who has started this journey they will endorse this, it is not about looking like a magazine cover model, it is about recognizing that each one of us is beautiful, different and wonderful. There are no ‘standardized’ beauty heros or heroines in this world, we are who we are and it is our own time to shine. An unhealthy routine is given rise to from a myriad of issues, where food has been used to substitute a feeling of ‘wellbeing’ and as we get a small high from that food or habit (smoking etc) so we feel lifted and the vicious cycle is created. Step 1, no more fad diets or crazy routines instead we need to establish ourselves in a pattern whereby healthy food choices and exercise can slot into our timetable on an ongoing basis that is a permanent feature. Yes we may desire the occasional unhealthy snack or meal, yes we may desire to skip the odd workout, these exceptions to the rule are absolutely fine. Life is for living, find something that works for you and stick with it, change up the meals and the workouts for variation, after all it is the spice of life that keeps us vibrant.
A self-forgiving state of mind helps us more easily release negative judgments of ourself. We are then less likely to act on those feelings by hurting ourself and our body. Resulting in ourselves naturally wanting to take better care of our body hence we are likely to eat healthier foods, give our body the movement it needs, and treat ourself with greater compassion.
On the other hand, when we fill our minds and bodies with the poisonous energies of self-contempt (and we are all capable of doing this), we are more likely to turn to food for comfort or self-punishment. The negative feelings can quickly lead to a very old and familiar sense of being out of control or a victim. Or even worse feeling that ‘wellbeing’ again, which actually is the complete reverse.
Creating and forging a habit of self forgiveness causes us to notice significant changes in our physical health and in your ability to no longer rely on food for comfort. And with these feelings of strength and positivity we want to exercise and tone up our bodies it is a natural progression.
Self forgiveness requires patience and persistence. Below are some exercises to help you on your way.
1. Be Willing to Forgive Yourself
Release guilt, shame and self-hatred. Open the space for this healing energy to enter your mind and body by setting the intention to do so.
Simply say to yourself right now: “I want to forgive myself.”
Additionally, write these words down on paper several times:
“I want to forgive myself. I want to love myself fully and treat myself with loving kindness.”
This may seem like a very simple process. It is. Don’t equate simple with ineffective. A sincere and deliberate intention to stop berating yourself, and to forgive yourself when you do, helps you take charge of your life, feel less like a victim, and stop the cycle of emotional eating.
2. Wrap Negative Thoughts in Love
We all fall into old patterns. So the next time you slip back into less than healthy eating or exercise habits and berate yourself with unkind words, turn to your heart for comfort.
For example, instead of dwelling on those negative thoughts and feelings, remind yourself you can stop. Take a deep breath. Then, focus your attention on your heart and at the same time think of a beautiful memory or someone you love. I learned this exercise and it helps you feel calm very quickly. Then, say this affirmation to yourself or out loud while keeping your attention on your heart:
“I release these thoughts and feelings (or shame and guilt, etc.) into the Love and I open myself to loving and forgiving myself.”
Directing your attention to your heart infuses your words with calming, heart-based energy. It is as if you are wrapping your self-contempt in a blanket of love.
3. Connect to Your Heart, Literally
Become quiet. Place your hand on your heart. Feel your heart beat. Now, while keeping your hand on your heart, say to yourself:
“I totally and completely love and accept myself with all my problems and all my limitations.”
Feel into this process. Repeat several times daily.
This exercise helps you connect with the loving energy of your heart. Your heart doesn’t judge you for overeating or for talking harshly to yourself. It simply keeps beating on. Feel that beautiful, consistent heartbeat and know that you are loved by the pure energy within it.
Practice the above steps faithfully and you’ll begin to create a lightness of spirit within you.
Be patient and have faith. Over time you’ll notice that the love you give to yourself on the inside will be reflected in the ways you care for yourself and look and feel on the outside.
Source: Diane Petrella, MSW