Body Image Booster: Cultivating Your Spirituality
Monday’s body image-boosting post got postponed because of our blog party for World Mental Health Day. But, thankfully, you can enjoy it on Tuesday.
Remember that every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts the week on a positive note!
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!
Living a meaningful, spiritual life can help you improve your body image because it reminds you that there’s so much more to life than body parts, calorie counts and numbers on the scale.
It broadens our world, because when our body image is down in the dumps, our life becomes smaller. We might miss out on fun activities and events because we hate how we look. We might decline invites to dinner because we don’t want to deal with going over our points or eating something higher in calories. We might not pursue our passions, our dreams because we think we don’t deserve them unless we’re 20 lbs. thinner.
We might forget to pay attention to the beauty that surrounds us, whether it’s our family, friends or nature. We focus more on bashing ourselves.
Yesterday, I shared this quote by Kim Chernin from The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness, which was featured in Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb’s book 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience:
The body holds meaning . . . when we probe beneath the surface of our obsession with weight, we will find that a woman obsessed with her body is also obsessed with the limitations of her emotional life. Through her concern with her body she is expressing a serious concern about the state of her soul.
This is such an interesting perspective and an important one. I definitely feel like my body image concerns were really a concern about my soul’s state. Because I focused on the superficial (appearances, dieting) to the detriment of the spiritual. My life was smaller.
In The Hard Questions for an Authentic Life: 100 Essential Questions for Designing Your Life from the Inside Out, author Susan Piver helps readers explore their spirituality by asking many valuable questions. As she writes, these questions “are intended to help you find ways to practice your spirituality every day, in everything you do.” They’re “meant to to help you take the very beginning steps toward defining how, when and where your spiritual nature is best expressed, regardless of your religious beliefs.”
Here’s a list of questions I found to be especially helpful and thought-provoking (some are either exact quotes or paraphrased):
- “What place do spirituality and spiritual practice play in my life?” “Are they the beliefs of a specific religion or are they self-created?”
- “Do I believe in God or any form of deity?” What is my relationship like with this deity? Do I feel it more strongly at a certain place or with certain people such as in church, while surrounded by nature or with my family?
- Do I follow any specific spiritual practices like meditating or praying?
- What three qualities do I value most (e.g., love, generosity, faith, wisdom)? “How deeply are these values expressed in my relationships with family, with an intimate partner, and in my work?” How can I better express these core values in different areas of my life?
- Does my job reflect my spiritual beliefs or values? If not, what can I do so that it does?
- What am I grateful for? “How do I express gratitude?”
- How do I give back to others and the world?
- “Which holidays or events (religious or personal) do I feel it is important to mark, either through celebration or remembrance/mourning?”
- “What would I want to be written in my obituary or said about me in a eulogy?
A Body Image Tip
Health coach Katie Morris of the blog A Choice for Health emailed me the following tip:
In terms of my own tips to improve body image, I have to say, I struggle a lot. However, I try to use logic and treat myself “like my own client.” If a client came to me, and professed the same terrible body image I have for myself, I would try to shake it out of her, and help her see her worth and her beauty. If I can do that for others, why not for myself?
(Thanks so much, Katie!)
What place does spirituality have in your life? Has it helped with improving your body image and your life? How do you practice your spirituality? Do you think body image concerns are really a “serious concern about the state of [your] soul”?
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). Body Image Booster: Cultivating Your Spirituality. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/10/body-image-booster-cultivating-your-spirituality/