How Self-Compassion Helped Me Feel Good About My Body

I wrote pieces of this post a few years ago when I was contemplating my age. Think it still stands. Think when we can move beyond the self-criticism and into self-compassion we can see all that we are. Then it’s hard not to simply say “thank you.”



Scars track my left leg where doctors cut melanoma from the skin.

I’ve gained a little weight since college and, well O.K., even since that Happy Hour visit last month. I’ve added some wrinkles. Some gray hair. And this body can be stiff and sore with arthritis after sitting too long.

But, when I look at this body machine that holds my hope and my smile and my heart – when I really think about what it’s done for me and where it’s gotten me and what all of us – my body and brain and soul – have done together, it’s hard to do anything but give thanks.

It’s held me up when I’ve weighed more than I wanted and then those muscles have fired me back into shape. These iPod ears no longer hear every high pitch, but they heard Mr. J when he told me he loved me the first time, and they heard him say it this last time too, this morning before he left for work.  (And a few times in between these ears heard when he suggested I might be overreacting, but we won’t go there.) These arms — the ones that don’t look so good in a tank top but look awesome in the three-quarter length sleeves on my black blouse —  held  my baby in her first moments. These fingers now have gotten good at putting Dora Band-aids on her big-girl knees. My heart beats strong with happiness and health and gratitude.

Sure, it’s been broken too, in loss and disappointment. And seen more than it’s share of trans-fatty acids and Haagen Dazs and still, it keeps beating and loving.

You Are Enough

After years of thinking my body was not enough, of evaluating how it measured up to others, I spend more time now being grateful that somehow it gets me where I want to go.

It is the vehicle for all that I am and offers enough room for me still to grow into all that I want to be. And by focusing on how well it works, instead of all that’s gone wrong, I have a new-found appreciation. I take better care of it. I nourish it with good food and positive energy. I exercise it on the treadmill and I energize it through meditation and friendships and smiles. I treat it to self -compassion and occasionally a very good Cosmo.

Age and work and sun and life experience, love and hurt and passion have marked my body like age rings around a tree. Like a tree it still stands.

These days I’m noticing that. Holding it gently. Recognizing that for all the flaws and mistakes and imperfections my body, my being is still a marvel. Wondrous and strong.

To be human, no matter what that looks like, is awesome. When we can appreciate that, treat our humanity with kindness and gentleness and self-compassion, we are free to love how we look and step into all that we are.



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