Maybe, like many of us humans, you are not completely happy with the way your body looks. You’ve tried affirmations and you’ve tried to work out, and still you’re not pleased. Have you heard of body neutrality?
Whether you’re wishing that your cellulite would go away or are struggling to accept the effects of aging or illness, there is a possible solution to your feelings of frustration and self-condemnation. Body neutrality may be the secret to your freedom from identification with a self-image that you dislike.
The term “body neutrality” started appearing on the internet around 2015. This idea contrasts with the “body positivity” movement which has been around for decades. Body positivity promotes positive affirmations in order to create change. Body neutrality seeks to accept and understand the body where it is and not try to change it.
Accepting your body
For many, positive affirmations don’t feel authentic. Especially if their concept of self is so far from where they want it to be. Body neutrality can be a healing middle ground that can allow for the release of resistant emotions.
Instead of feeling frustrated and wishing you were different than you are, and instead of saying words and pretending that you’re different than you are, you can love your body just as it is. This can do wonders for your emotional and ultimately physical well-being.
How to Practice Body Neutrality
Cultivating a healthy body image can be challenging at first. However, this is essential as the way you perceive yourself affects not only your emotions, but also your mental abilities, physical well-being, and relationship with the world.
Tip #1: Broaden your perspective
Challenge yourself with the questions: Why do I think my body needs to be different, and where did that idea come from? I can promise you that it didn’t originate with you. Someone else planted that idea in your mind.
Body neutrality supports the fact that there are many different body types, colors, shapes and sizes. Learn to appreciate the diversity of this planet. When you are walking in the grocery store, observe the array of different types of bodies all around you. Start to view the differences as unique and valuable, instead of judging negatively or even positively.
Tip #2: Engage in some kind of physical exercise
I think this tip sort of happens naturally as you begin to love your body more. You will be compelled to do what your body needs. Even just a 30-minute walk with the dog every day would be relaxing and beneficial. You could also start with 15 minutes of stretching every morning. Do something small every day. If you miss one or two days, just pick it up again and don’t be discouraged. Creating new habits takes time.
You are not trying to change your body; you are instead exploring your body’s needs and capabilities. Learn to listen and to build that relationship. This will be rewarding in so many ways!
Tip #3: Avoid comparisons
Do you feel dissatisfied with yourself after looking at fashion magazines and social media? Learn to question how you are interpreting the information you are ingesting. If you are comparing yourself to people who are only showing you the most popular aspects of themselves, then you will be struggling in vain to become someone who is not even real.
Maybe instead of comparing, you can see the value others bring and also the value you bring. Interacting instead of simply ingesting can make you a part of this world in your own unique way. Each of us has a distinct perspective and energy to bring to the table. Instead of wishing that you were like someone else, embrace yourself and see what you can add to the stream of life.
Tip #4: Express appreciation
You can’t feel bad and be in a state of gratitude at the same time. Many studies have been done on the power of gratitude, including how it can improve health in amazing ways. The essence of body neutrality is appreciating your body as it is right now.
Start by realizing what your body does for you every moment of every day. Subconsciously your body is converting oxygen and food into life-giving energy for each one of your cells. Each one of your cells is functioning precisely to keep you safe from a constant badgering of toxins, external and internal. Your body loves you and keeps going no matter what is thrown at it.
When you show appreciation to your body in your actions, thoughts and words, you will be amazed at how your body responds. Try it and see what happens!
Tip #5: Pamper yourself
Spend time and invest in luxuries for your body. I invested in an array of facial products that I use every morning and evening. I don’t use them to change how I look; I use them to show myself love. I feel pampered when I care for my face. I’m showing my body that I love her.
Invest in massages and facials. Take regular salt baths and use a sugar scrub on your body, all the while sending love to each cell. Learn to see yourself as beautiful/handsome just the way you are. See the value of every part. The love you show yourself will seep into every aspect of your life.
Tip #6: Focus on things you love
A great way to manifest freedom from negative emotions is to change the subject. If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, shift your focus to something you enjoy. Go to lunch or coffee with a friend, take a trip, read a book, work on a hobby.
I’ve learned much recently regarding the subject of flow and highly recommend the book Flow by Mihaly Csikscentmihalyi. He claims that when a person is focused intently on a project or activity that requires skill-building in an area that the person truly enjoys, this brings lasting satisfaction and happiness. This could be learning a musical instrument, a foreign language, an artistic skill, etc.
Sometimes the act of diverting your attention from the “problem” for a while, actually ends up resolving the issue. So, when you return to the idea of body neutrality, you may find healing has already taken place and your perceptions have begun to change.
Tip #7: Listen to your intuition and feelings
The best way to integrate information into your life, is to listen to your inner self. Your intuition already knows what is best for you. Learn to not only embrace your unique body, but your individual style as well. Weigh each piece of information with what feels right for you. Use what works, discard what doesn’t, and rework the rest. You know in your heart what resonates and what doesn’t.
Also, validate your feelings. An essential aspect of body neutrality is not trying to change yourself, including your feelings. They are there to tell you something. Appreciate that they have let you know that something you are thinking is not working. You can work on changing your thinking, and the feelings will change automatically.
Know your worth
Ultimately, know your worth. Know that you are an essential piece to this beautiful mosaic of life. Your worth doesn’t depend on fitting into a mold that the majority of society is deeming “attractive” at this time in history. Free yourself from unhealthy thought patterns, and the type of people that come into your life will reflect your new perspectives.
Trust and love yourself. Your mind and body will thank you for it!