Let’s normalize something we all experience – that image of our perfect self we carry around in our heads. You know, that version of you with the ideal body shape, perfect relationships, the dream job, great health, and money to spare. Having these aspirations is perfectly okay. But here’s the catch: life doesn’t always play along. Some parts of it just won’t bend to our will, or they’re simply beyond our immediate control. So, aligning that ideal-self with the real you can be quite a challenge, and sometimes, it might not even be possible. (Yep, it’s tough.)
Finding Peace and Contentment Through Body Grief
So what even is Body Grief? When you’re grieving your body, it’s similar to any other type of grieving, and the experience varies from person to person. We each have our own distinctive responses to grief – it’s a perplexing, heart-wrenching process that arrives in waves, sometimes resisted, denied, rejected, and even bargained with, But eventually, it can lead to a place of peace and contentment.
Grieving is something truly personal and one-of-a-kind. It’s a time when we let our emotions run their course, without being too critical or trying to overanalyze them (even though that can be really tough). It’s a moment when we dig deeper into self-discovery and build a stronger connection with ourselves. Usually, it’s about having faith that your body has its own way of handling the grieving process.
Unlocking Body Image Freedom by Embracing the Stages of Body Grief
When we examine the stages of body image work from a therapeutic perspective, it can help us let go of and mourn the unrealistic expectations we might have about our bodies from societal standards, and generational ideas and beliefs. This grieving process, while often tough, is essential. It can steer us away from body hate and toward body neutrality, freedom, and liberation.
Grieving the loss of that ideal body isn’t solely about the physical appearance. It’s about facing the reality that you’ve clung to the belief that if you put in enough effort, cared deeply enough, and stayed motivated, you could not only shape your body but also take control of your entire life. Diet culture often sells this enticing idea that you can attain that perfect body size and shape. But conveniently, it forgets to mention the part where you’d have to battle against your biology, genetics, and even your mental well-being to reach that goal. The thing is, it’s not because you didn’t try hard enough. In truth, diets fail for about 95% of people. It’s not that these folks failed in their dieting efforts; it’s that diets themselves often set people up for disappointment right from the start.
The Emotional Journey of Grieving Your Body
When you’re in the midst of grieving the loss of your ideal body, it goes way beyond missing the physical aspects. It’s also about facing the truth that at some point, you genuinely believed your ideal body would be the solution to all your self-worth struggles, making you feel genuinely valuable. This isn’t about mourning the idea that you can never experience self-worth or self-acceptance; it’s about grieving the deep attachment you had to the belief that a specific body shape would be the key to unlocking those feelings. Pause and allow this to settle in your mind. It can be particularly demanding to embrace this new perspective if you’ve long believed that what your body looked like was the gateway to ultimate fulfillment and self-worth.
This is why so many people avoid this emotional journey, opting to stick with the diet culture and convincing themselves it’s all about their health (though it’s worth a closer look at the fine print). But if you’re reading this right now, perhaps you’re starting to feel an overwhelming weariness from that constant battle with your body. Maybe you’re ready to hit pause, take a good look around, reconsider your path, and give a different approach a chance. The relentless struggle with your body can be incredibly draining emotionally. Even though I don’t know you personally, I wholeheartedly believe that life has so much more to offer you than a cycle of self-loathing and relentless attempts to mold your body into something it might not naturally be.
Practicing Body Neutral Affirmations Through the Grieving Process
Let’s embark on a journey of collaboration with our bodies, showing them kindness instead of fighting against them. I’ve discovered a method that I hold close to my heart for coping with body grief – it involves embracing daily body-positive affirmations. If you’re interested, you’re more than welcome to explore some of my cherished body-neutral affirmations on my IG page @cillaaa.hope. I’m rooting for you!
Want more help with body image?
Check out these posts:
10 Self-Care Items To Use When Struggling With Body Image
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Fill your space with calming scents using an aromatherapy diffuser. Essential oils like lavender, chamomile, or eucalyptus can help create a soothing atmosphere.
Comforting Tea or Hot Cocoa
Enjoy a warm and comforting beverage. Whether it’s a calming herbal tea or a cup of hot cocoa, the act of sipping and savoring can be soothing.
Wrap yourself in a cozy weighted blanket. The gentle pressure can provide a sense of security and promote relaxation, helping to alleviate stress.
Guided Meditation Apps
Use guided meditation apps or audio tracks to lead you through relaxation exercises. Apps like Headspace or Calm offer various sessions for stress reduction and mindfulness.
Light up a set of calming candles. The soft glow and subtle fragrance can create a tranquil environment, helping to shift your mood.
Take some time to journal your thoughts and feelings. Writing can be a therapeutic way to process emotions and gain clarity during challenging times.
Change into comfortable and soft loungewear. Wearing clothes that make you feel cozy can contribute to a sense of comfort and relaxation.
Engage in mindful coloring with an adult coloring book. This simple and creative activity can be a meditative way to focus your mind and alleviate stress.
Block out external noise with noise-canceling headphones. Listen to calming music, nature sounds, or even just enjoy the quiet to create a peaceful environment.
Use a heatable pillow or neck wrap to relax tense muscles. These items can provide comfort and relief, especially if stress has manifested physically.