52 Ways To Love Your Body (New Harbinger, 2016), by Kimber Simpkins is a guide for embracing the body that you are in. Learning to love your body means no longer wasting your energy on body hatred and giving yourself back all that time to change the world instead. In her book, Simpkins shares with readers many of her favorite ways to treat her body with love and let go of the yearning for perfection, feeding her true hungers, and freeing herself of the mean girl voice she bullied herself with for years. And best of all, these practices not only have helped her, but also have been life changing for the many students in her workshops whose shift from body hating to body loving she's been lucky enough to witness. It may feel impossible to believe that peace can be made with your body and you can even learn to love it. Maybe you’ve spent your entire life until now wishing your body were different, and you’re thinking that one little book isn’t going to change that. But change is based on practice, and you have to begin somewhere. That’s what this book is offering you — practices that can change your life. Let the practices here inspire and support your quest to become the friend your body deserves. By coming this far, you’re already on your way.
When you get triggered or upset, how do you respond? A trigger can be anything — remembering something you forgot to do, hearing about a friend’s diagnosis, overhearing a comment around the water cooler — anything that distresses you and sets your mind spinning. Many of us find it difficult to calm and reassure ourselves, or self-soothe, when we make a mistake or feel hurt, stressed, or angry. When we can soothe ourselves in the moment, we can be more constructive and effective in dealing with whatever life is asking us to handle. Otherwise, many of us end up taking out our hidden agitation on the body and start blaming it for whatever is going wrong. Comforting ourselves is a great way to avoid treating the body as a scapegoat.
When our big family dog got upset about the strong wind rattling the house recently, we let him crawl up onto our laps on the couch, hugged him and stroked his furry head, and told him that we loved him until he felt reassured enough to leap down and meet the scary sounds on his own again. But so often when we’re upset, we forget that there’s a being inside us who needs to be held, cuddled, and loved.
How often during the day are you triggered by something someone says about dieting or food, or by an unfortunate glance in the mirror that you feel indisputably proves you don’t have a best side? It can be something as simple as a weight-loss ad that pops up on your screen while you’re answering a work email, and pow! You end up spending the rest of the day’s hours man- aging how triggered you are…unable to focus or calm yourself down.
A single unattractive photo (taken of my butt during a game of Twister) once sent me into a week-long diatribe about how ugly I was. Nowadays, when I see myself about to be derailed by the inner critic’s rant, I self-soothe. I notice I’m upset, take a few deep breaths, and let myself feel the intensity of the trigger for a moment. Then I place a hand over my heart and repeat to myself the words that soften my ruffled feathers: “We’re in this together, sweetie. We’re gonna be okay.”
What if you could step out of that spiral before it knocks you over? Use this practice to offer yourself a moment of reassurance, comfort, and relief. Let it help you get on with your day and your life.
Steps to self-soothe:
- Know what you find soothing. What words or practices are able to help you relax and soften toward your- self and the situation? Staying with the breath, making a cup of tea, placing your hand over your heart, wrap- ping yourself up in a blanket, repeating the words of a poem, listening to music, going for a walk, interrupting negative self-talk, and offering yourself words that are positive and friendly are just a few examples. “It’s going to be okay,” “This isn’t going to last,” “I’m doing the best I can…” Find words that resonate with you. Make a list of self-soothing practices that don’t involve food or alcohol.
- Know that you’re triggered. Be familiar with the signs that you are upset, sad, or agitated, and acknowledge your feelings without judgment. Try saying to yourself, “I’m feeling angry,” without getting too caught up in why. Even notice where the feeling is in your body.
- Offer yourself one of your self-soothing practices. Repeat as often as needed.