Body Image & Confidence: How To Love Your Body Unconditionally

By Maggie Lyon Varadhan

Is it possible to transform the way we relate to ourselves and speak to others about our bodies? How can we make these conversations fruitful?

Talking about body image is loaded and important. But the conversation begs for re-imagining. Of course vanity is human. We all want to look great. Yet as a culture we are massively over-identified with our physical selves as representative of our wholes. To think that all our value resides in our shells!

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In keeping with this fixation, body dysmorphia, or a grossly distorted notion of the body’s shape, runs rampant. The sense of sight is sorely skewed. Often we are so harsh about our looks, and lacking in such security, that we corral someone else, whom we deem with more trustworthy eyes, to validate our bodies for us. This ceding of power is sad.

A key step in self-evolution and psychotherapy, is learning to stop relying on how others see us and to re-program how we see ourselves. It has taken me years to practice this. Still, I have my moments. I am also perfectly aware that when I do at times ask, “How do I look?” or “Do I look fat?” or any such variation, what I am really asking is “Am I OK? Am I worthy? Am I valuable to you, because right now I’m having a hard time feeling valuable to me?”

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In unearthing what is at the root of our searches for validation, we begin to wear new grooves in our brains and to revamp the limping relationships with our physiques. These fresh dialogues clear the path to more honestly conversing with ourselves, and the ones we ask to be our mirrors, about what is really going on to make us feel so wobbly.

By slowing down, getting quiet, and simply experiencing our bodies in a balanced, sensory-appropriate way, we ease our dependence on the need to be buoyed about our looks. We become attentive to our vast, subtle emotional and energetic bodies. When we trust our inner intuitive vision, we quickly begin to provide ourselves with the safety and inspiration we crave. Instead of calling on friends and family to reassure and nurture us, we act as our own best informants.

Opening up these lines of communication about our bodies, from inside our bodies, is how we ultimately break free of the trappings of conditional acceptance. Suddenly the joy that is already so abundant in us begins to flourish and flow. Everyone around us vibrates with it too.

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