Those of us who grapple with body image issues tend to spend a lot of time and energy focusing on our physical imperfections and lamenting all the things we feel are wrong or missing. We are often so keenly attuned to the perceived negatives of our physical being that we completely lose sight of the many positive aspects inherent in having a body.
Today, I completed exercise #3 from “200 Ways to Love the Body You Have.” This exercise, simply titled “Gratitude,” challenges us to list all of the ways our bodies serve us, those things we wouldn’t be able to experience if we didn’t have a body. Surprisingly, I had no trouble at all creating my list and within a short fifteen minutes, I had listed 25 blessings for which I feel gratitude toward my body.
My list mostly encompasses the many joys of experiencing life through the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
Fifteen years ago, one of my closest friends committed suicide at the age of 32. The day on which I found out was absolutely and unequivocally the worst day of my life. Time seemed to stop and I felt shocked, sad, and numb all at the same time. I cried and cried until there were no tears left in my body and I felt a depth of pain that I didn’t even know was possible to experience.
The tears and the sadness lasted for a long, long time, but I gradually moved past the depth of my pain and was increasingly able to take comfort in my happy memories of a person whom I felt blessed to have known. Although I don’t know if one is ever completely “over” a loss of a loved one, I thought that I had mostly moved on after the passage of so much time. As the old saying goes, “time heals all wounds.” Or does it? Surprisingly, I recently realized that I may still have quite a bit of grieving and healing to do over the loss of my dear friend.
This post is based upon the first two exercises in Chapter 3 (pg. 45-49) of “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book” by Louise Hay. I will share some of my responses to the questions, as well as some of the insights I gained from completing the exercises.
Over the course of my “healing project,” I plan to complete all of the exercises in this book and the original “You Can Heal Your Life” book, but I won’t necessarily do them in order (being the rebel that I am…).
The chapter begins with an affirmation (“I restore and maintain my body at optimum health”), as well as a health issue checklist consisting of eleven items, of which I checked eight. Clearly, addressing my health concerns is a major issue for me in terms of healing my life.
Core Health Principles from Louise Hay
At this point, it is helpful to remind myself and my readers of some of Louise Hay’s core principles surrounding health (click here for a comprehensive review of the key principles of “You Can Heal Your Life”):
* Our bodies are always trying to maintain a state of optimum health, no matter how badly we treat them.
* We contribute to every illness we have, as our bodies mirror our inner thoughts and beliefs.
* Every disease we experience is a teacher, and our illnesses signal false ideas within our consciousness.
* Illness may unconsciously serve as a “legitimate” way of avoiding responsibility or unpleasant situations.
* True healing involves body, mind, and spirit.
A few weeks ago, I went to see a specialist about the throat discomfort and swallowing problems I’d been experiencing (see my “It’s Always Something” post for more about this). As usual, I had to spend quite a bit of time in the waiting room, and this particular waiting room was more crowded than usual. In addition, the phone was ringing off the hook and the environment was far from peaceful. To combat my internal frustration, I decided to journal about my feelings in that moment. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:
“Waiting to see specialist, room full of people… I don’t want to be here! I don’t want the medical model with all of its procedures and medications. I am tired of identifying as a sick person! I need to heal myself spiritually. I can do it, and I will!”
In that moment, I felt absolute clarity about what I did and did not want. I was clear in my desire to focus on my “healing project” rather than pursue medical procedures and prescription drugs. I didn’t have much time to reflect, however, as I was quickly whisked back into the examining room to see the doctor. Almost immediately, she spoke of my having an endoscopy and taking twice-daily medications. These things were exactly what I didn’t want!
I requested that the endoscopy be postponed for a month. I agreed to take the medication, but I never ended up filling the prescription due to my worries about potential side effects. Instead, I’ve been focusing on lifestyle changes such as eating more digestible foods in smaller portions and chewing my food more thoroughly. I also take small doses of over-the-counter medication, which seems to be sufficient at this point. Although my throat problem (medical term = Laryngopharyngeal Reflux) has not gone away, it’s definitely less severe than it was a month ago.
To weigh or not to weigh, that is the question. Sure, it’s not as substantial an issue as Hamlet’s “To be or not to be,” but it is a question I’ve been pondering in recent days.
A bit of background is in order. Until around a month ago, I hadn’t weighed myself in two and a half years. I decided to break that streak because I felt my hesitation to step on the scale was grounded in fear, as opposed to being a triumphant and empowering choice. I had reached the conclusion that it would be more courageous for me to weigh myself than to continue to fear an inanimate metal object. I wrote about this process in a post titled “Facing Fears” in my sister blog, “The Healing Project.” At that time of that post, I was feeling quite liberated by having faced my scale phobia after such a long period of trepidation.
Moments of Truth…
Fast forward two weeks… I have since weighed myself two more times. As my initial weight did not meet with my approval, I vowed to weigh myself weekly until I had lost at least five (and preferably closer to ten) pounds. My second scale experience of 2010 went well, as the number had migrated two pounds in the right direction. I felt exalted and successful; the scale had proclaimed my acceptability and I could proceed in my life without criticism or self-flagellation. I only briefly considered the inherent stupidity in allowing one mere measure of my entire being to make a statement on my worthiness. After all, I was feeling good, so why question it?