Recently, I led a workshop for twenty-four women, where we got real about their relationship with their bodies.
We started by exploring what they think, feel and say to themselves most often about their physical form. For many, this was highly uncomfortable. Writing down one’s own cruelty and harshness is one thing. Sharing it and allowing it to be witnessed by another is quite different.
There’s power in letting our deepest, darkest secrets out into the light of day (in a safe environment). Brene Brown says that shame needs silence, secrecy and judgment to thrive. The antidote is empathy, and the courage to share vulnerably—which these women did.
Each woman saw how she wasn’t alone in her struggle. How she wasn’t the only one who had a critical voice calling the shots in her relationship with her body. This intensified when I wrote one word on the white board at the front of the room…
T E R R O R I S T
The women gasped. Then, slowed down to take in the moment and consider her own inner terrorist—and how that part controls, demands of and dictates to her body. She saw so clearly how blame, comparison, judgment, over-eating, under-eating, ignoring and depriving are results of this way of thinking and being.
“How long have you been participating in this cycle of punishment,” I asked.
“Forever. For as long as I can remember,” were some responses shared.
“Is that ok with you? Because, if it’s not, who do you have to be to make a change?” I prompted.
I love this part of the workshop because the energy in the room begins to shift. The women open themselves to what’s possible. They allow themselves to see their body as innocent, and start to experience compassion—which is the entry point for transformation.
From here we looked at the biggest obstacle—the thing in the way of them taking care of themselves and making their body a priority. Things like: “It’s too hard. There’s not enough time. It takes way to long. I’m just too tired. I don’t know what to do.”
Blah blah blah. And, after acting out and over exaggerating this once justifiable excuse, they saw their liberation. They saw how this out-dated story no longer served them.
One woman shared, “I grew up with a mother overly concerned about her weight and the way she looked. I learned early on that my body limited me. I was told that I didn’t have the physique of my sister, so it was best for me to play small, not risk, and avoid getting hurt.”
We had been looking at her behavior with food—the “I know what I should be eating, but am not doing it” obstacle.
She paused and then said, “If I am thinner, I’ll get noticed. And, if I get noticed, I’ll get hurt. I’ll be rejected and alone.”
This was the misunderstanding ruling her relationship with food. Her body became a form of protection—a common experience for many women. The good news was now she was aware of the underlying cause, so she could heal it, create a more empowering belief, and a healthy relationship with food.
This led beautifully to my announcement about the Rock Your Body Challenge, my eight-week online program devoted to feeling at home in your body. In it, I share exactly how to rewire the underlying beliefs driving your actions, as well as how to: listen to your body and honor “her” needs, make time for yourself, stop obsessing about food, move for pleasure, experience more joy, dress for your body and so much more.
This is the time of year I create space in my calendar to talk with women about their relationship with their bodies. I know first-hand the pain and shame that can happen when looking in the mirror, or getting dressed in the morning. I know the anxiety that often occurs when sitting down for a meal (should I eat “good” or “bad” today). I know the habit of letting the number on the scale dictate my mood, my worth, my value.
There is a way out. I found it first for myself, and have since shared it with hundreds of women who experienced successful results. If you’re reading this and wanting a way out too, know I’m willing to talk with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll go from there.
PS: Our 6-part Interview Series for Your Body is only available for a limited time. Click here to learn more.