Each and every one of us lives inside a complex container, known as the human body.
And a lot of us have a complicated relationship with this warm and fleshy vessel.
In fact, it's so convoluted, that many of us actually define our self worth according to its aesthetics and functionality. We often claim to even "hate" our bodies, complain about them, and sometimes, tragically, abuse them.
But your body is your home, and you only get this one. So it's really important that you learn how to love and appreciate it, and take the very best care of it you can.
So, today we're going take a good look at the physical SELF and learn what it actually is. Then, we'll talk a little bit about how so many of us came to develop a rocky relationship with it. And, finally, we'll learn why having a positive self image is important, and explore ways to nurture our incredible, beautiful bodies, so that we can feel good about ourselves and receive the care we deserve.
Welcome to the blog & podcast, Unlocking Wellness! I’m Crystal McLain, curator of Crystal McLain Creative, an online resource that supports folks who are ready to get creative with the care of their mind, body, and mother-lovin’ soul.
If you enjoy this content, would like to support my work, AND score some sweet self care goodies, consider a Patreon Membership for as little as $3 a month! Yup, three bucks…it’s like buying me a cup of coffee. To learn more about memberships and how funds are making a positive impact, you can visit: crystalmclaincreative.com.
And, if you like to read along WHILE you listen, or enjoy graphics and videos, you can access all of these features through the blog version of this podcast. I’ll leave a direct link to this episode in the show notes below.
Alright. Let's get to it.
If you've been here before, you know that I like to remind you of the creative self care skills that we've recently learned, so that you can keep them fresh 'n ready in your brain while we deep dive into new topics.
So, to recap real quick, January we learned how to create a growth mindset, February we deepend our self awareness, March we expanded our body consciousness, and last month we learned how to care for our mental wellbeing. And these are going to be super handy tools to use while we learn about the physical self.
Now, you might be thinking, didn't we just learn about our bodies when we expanded our Body Consciousness?
And the answer is, yes.
BUT, body consciousness is having an understanding of the bits 'n pieces, and how they work together to create a whole human organism. What we're learning this month is more along the lines of body image, which has more to do with the perception, feelings and relationship one has with their body (and how it affects their overall wellbeing).
That said, having an awareness of your meat machine and its systems IS important information to have WHILE you explore the ins and outs of your body image BECAUSE it will help you to make shifts in how you perceive and care for your physical self.
So you should totally go check out those previous posts if you really want to sink your teeth into this creative self care stuff.
And speaking of SELF care, let's talk about what the physical self actually is.
I guess the first thing I should mention is whenever I refer to ANY of your selves, be it the mental, physical, emotional, social, practical or spiritual, what I'm talking about is YOUR subjective perception of that part of you.
The self is something you create from your own reflective consciousness.
That means it's an identity that you've concocted using your ego, conscious thoughts, and your subconscious programming (which is a mash-up of your life's experiences, paired the feelings you've attached to those experiences).
In other words, YOU are the one who defines your SELF.
And the PHYSICAL self is, more specifically, how you define your BODY.
Pretty cool, right?
Well, it is, unless you’ve created a pretty shitty definition.
And if that's you, let’s talk about how that might have happened.
So, to be honest, I don’t really know where to start because the problem of developing a negative self image seems to stem from so MANY places. But, if I listen to my inner soul gremlin, I believe they all stem from the desire to be loved.
Whether or not you're a self proclaimed hermit, or even find it hard to warm up to other humans, deep in our primal DNA we are social creatures. Our survival really does depend on community and connection.
And positive human connection is actually vital to our growth and development, and we'll talk more about that when we learn about the SOCIAL self in July. BUT, what I'm getting at here is, we want to be wanted, accepted and included, if even on a very small subconscious scale. And sadly, there are a lot people who take advantage of that.
Our society has a long history steeped in colonialism, patriarchy and capitalism, and we've been told time and time again who is wanted and accepted. And guess what- it doesn't exactly include a lot of people. And if that wasn't bad enough, the parameters for this self worth regarding our bodies, seem to always be changing.
Everywhere we look, there’s an opportunity to feel bad about our bodies. And it's not because our bodies are terrible things. It's because our society runs on consumerism. And if you're not feeling bad about yourself, you're probably not buying shit.
You're sold the idea that you'd be happier if you were more desirable. You'd be more desirable if you were sexier. You'd be sexier if you looked more like the physique de jour. And luckily for you, there just happens to be a gadget, cream, pill or even a surgery that can help you achieve this impossible goal.
And it’s not just sex that sells. It’s also the ideology of power and status. And this toxicity trickles down to the kids. Kids are smart, they're always watching and listening. And they learn how to judge themselves and others. We, ourselves, may have learned this when we were young and found confirmation everywhere as we got older that we are not enough.
It's a fucking racket.
And this bullshit has been passed on through generation after generation and has become a standard truth within our society, even though it's bullshit.
The real truth is, every BODY is different. And every BODY deserves to be here. And every single goddamn BODY should be given the opportunity to be safe and healthy. Even yours.
And it's about high time that we make some REAL changes to our systems so that every BODY has access to affordable, whole health care. And the only way we're going to have the strength and energy to make these changes is if we're feeling empowered enough to do so. So...self care. There you go. [rant over]
Where was I?
Okay, so, I want to make it clear, I'm also not saying that you can't alter your appearance. If you want the boob job, get it. If you wanna lose some weight, go for it. Love those false eyelashes? Wear them and bat your eyes at the world. It's your life and you can do whatever you want. BUT it's my mission to make sure that you're making choices from a place of self love, and awareness. I want you to be able to appreciate your body as it is, RIGHT NOW. And if you choose to make changes to it, it's for legit medical reasons, or because or you want to feel healthier, stronger, more energized, or simply more aligned with who YOU believe yourself to be.
I want to make sure that how you treat your body is actually kind, nurturing and supportive, and not destructive because it's driven by shame.
Alright. One of the goals here today is to improve your body image because when you accept and feel comfortable with your body, you actually end up taking better care of it.
And when you take good care of the physical self, it has a positive impact on your WHOLE self. And everything else in life just seems to feel a little bit easier.
So let's learn some ways you can start shifting your body image, so you can give yourself the love and care you deserve.
Alright, my friend, let's call out and shut down the bullshit that might be rambling on in your head.
So, this is a good time to revisit all that mindset stuff that we learned, because that's the REAL reason you've ended up here.
Somewhere along the way you may have been lead to believe that your body or appearance wasn't good enough. Good enough for what, exactly? I have no clue. But the consequence of these beliefs is a negative body image.
So grab a pen because I'm going to give you a few steps to create a more supportive and accepting mindset.
The fist thing I would suggest is to become aware of the thoughts you have about your body.
Notice when these thoughts pop up. What's going on? Are you looking in the mirror? Are you being intimate with someone? Are you trying on clothes? There are lots of moments when a flash of negativity might pop up. Pay attention to that.
The next thing to notice is how these thoughts make you FEEL.
Do you feel shame? Embarassment? Defeat? It's really important to get SUPER clear about how you're feeling because that's going to be your compass for figuring out how to get out of this mess. I actually have a free feelings identifier at my website, and Patreon members have this on the Inspiration Station App.
Next, figure out where these thoughts come from, and determine whether or not they're true.
If there's anything I've learned, it's that my worst thoughts about myself weren't actually my own. They were implanted by toxic relationships, advertising campaigns, and by comparing myself to others.
Am I fat? Yes. Am I fat and unworthy of love? No.
I'm fat like the sky is blue. It's not bad, and it's not good. It's simply a state of being. And much like the sky, I'm allowed to shift and change over time while maintaining the same value as the moment I came into being.
And the same goes for you.
And finally, how do you react to these thoughts and feelings?
Do you let them hold you back from wearing the clothes you want? Are they keeping you from pursuing a relationship? Do they get in the way of activities you'd like to do? Do they make you feel bad about eating? Do they cause you to engage in behaviors that don't feel healthy? Do you try to hide behind make up, humor or over-achieving?
Outdated ideas of what our bodies should or shouldn't be can keep us constrained from living the life we want and deserve.
Challenge the thoughts, usher yourself from your comfort zone, and live your life freely.
Your body is an INCREDIBLE biological machine. Seriously, it's like, the coolest thing.
You've got 11 major systems, wrapped up in skin, being choreographed by the brain, reacting through chemicals and electricity. And as you're traversing this earth, this fleshy vessel is trying to make sense of a VERY complicated world.
And the fact that out of all the people who were ever created, and will be created in the future, HERE YOU ARE.
Here you are.
You've got all the bits and pieces that make up the physical, tangible body, yes. But inside that body is something more. You've got things that you care about, things that are important to you. There are things you enjoy, and bring you pleasure, comfort and happiness. You have values, ethics, and priorities. And that is magic. And it's also what we're going to talk about when we talk about the spiritual self in September.
But, yeah, you're so much more than your meat machine. But, that said, your meat machine is pretty fucking INCREDIBLE, despite any cellulite or acne you may have.
Who cares about these "flaws"? You are science, and magic, and infinitely amazing. So here's another self care tip...
Spend some time REALLY thinking about how awesome you are.
Maybe it's a semi-regular journal practice. Maybe it's meditation. It should definitely be a practice whenever you find yourself talking smack about your body.
Alright, let's move along to the final step for creating a positive body image...
We've established the fact that you're a living, biological creature. With that, comes some pretty specific care instructions.
Now, I'm not gonna lie. Some of these care instructions do look like eating certain foods and moving your body. But the goal is not to transform your body into something that's accepted by society.
Remember, the goal here is to feel healthy, empowered, grounded, energized, or whatever you need in order to feel like you can achieve a positive body image.
Those 11 systems in your body that I previously mentioned help manage things like hormones, nutrient distribution, waste management, circadian rhythms, and so much more. And when those things are being managed, it can help combat a whole host of physical or emotional conditions that get in the way of you feeling well. And when you're feeling well, you have the bandwidth to recognize yourself in a better light.
So, learning about the 11 systems and what they need will help you make some creative, and practical self care choices. And when you practice making these choices, you complete the positive self image cycle.
When you love and appreciate your body, you take better care of it. When you take better care of your body, you love and appreciate it more.
If you want to learn more about your body's systems and how to care for them, you can visit my post: BODY CONSCIOUSNESS - Understanding & Befriending Your Marvelous Meat Machine. And if you're a Patreon Member, you'll find a downloadable chart along with today's other perks, or you can find it on the Inspiration Station App.
Remember, every BODY is different. Every BODY deserves to be here. And every BODY should get the opportunity to be safe, healthy and loved. Even yours.
I love you.
I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for being here.
I'll see you soon. Xx