The Joy of Self-Compassion

The beauty of being

I give myself a hard time.

My inner critic always has something to say when I look in the mirror, write a report or put on a presentation for work, meet new people, walk down the street.

I am cruelest to my body, though.

I berate my body for not being skinny enough, pretty enough, athletic enough, perfect enough.

I make jokes at its expense. I point out all its flaws.

I turn on it whenever I’m feeling tired, hurt, angry, bored or lonely.

I distract it from its real needs with sugary, salty, fried foods. I don’t move it as much as it wants to move. I put off going to the doctor’s when it tells me something is wrong.

I treat my body like the enemy. I blame it for holding me back from enjoying life more. I never give it praise or thanks.

In response, my body stoops with insecurity. It can’t breathe properly. My muscles are tense with self-hate. It tires quickly and gets sick easily because of neglect. My belly is bloated and starving for something more. My skin is dull and dry; my hair limp and split at the ends.

Change is needed.

What am I without my body?

My body and I are not separate. My body has brought me to adulthood, walked me out of a red zone, into the arms of love. It has healed cuts and bruises. It has breathed in fresh air and sunshine, and exhaled all that I no longer need. It has enabled me to hear the whoosh of a wood pigeon’s wings above, see shooting stars, taste the sweetness of a rain drop, feel the warmth of a midwinter bonfire, and enjoy the delicious aromas in my mother’s kitchen.

So to my body I say:

I am sorry. Please forgive me my meanness, for taking you for granted and refusing to listen to you.

I promise to treat you with loving kindness.

I promise to look upon you with admiration.

I promise to stop judging you, comparing you, and openly criticizing you in front of others.

I promise to rest when you tell me you are tired.

I promise to eat when you tell me you are hungry, and stop eating when you tell me you are full.

I promise to move and stretch, dance and laugh when you tell me you are stressed or bored, angry or hurt.

I promise to breathe slowly and mindfully when you tell me you need calm and clarity.

I promise to appreciate the beauty in these veins, dimples, freckles, lines and curves.

I thank you for this gift of being alive.

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