When I came home from the hospital after my hysterectomy last year, I felt pretty beat up. I could barely walk, slept very little, and had a 4 inch incision across my lower abdomen which was terribly sore and swollen. As the days slowly worked their way into weeks, I felt less and less happy with my body. It felt like someone had swapped my formerly healthy self with a broken, scarred, slow-moving half-wit.
Wanting to see the person I had previously known in the mirror, I made several attempts to put on makeup and do my hair, but it just wasn’t in me. Showering took so much effort, it was all I could manage to do. Because I moved so slowly and became so tired after my showers I stepped out, wrapped myself in a towel and immediately sat down on a nearby chair until I mustered enough energy to put on some clothes. I did however give myself a gift during that time. While sitting on that chair I tended to my feet which, under normal circumstances I would have likely neglected as I usually did.
I’ve never particularly liked my feet and since they are the farthest parts from me, I honestly forget about them a lot of the time. But during that first month post-surgery I lovingly dried each toe, softened my heels with lotion, trimmed and filed my nails and even put cuticle oil on them. Later, when I could reach for a longer period of time I’d put on a pretty coat of nail polish.
By the time I started feeling stronger, my feet looked better than they ever had in my life and honestly, I was quite proud of them. Every time I looked down at my swollen belly, I couldn’t help but look past to see my two feet staring back at me; it somehow made me feel better about myself. Who would have thought that by doing one small thing: attending to my clown feet (endearing term, isn’t it?), I could improve my overall attitude?
Most of us know this already but it bears repeating: when low self esteem finds a place to settle in our lives it doesn’t come alone. It welcomes all kinds of ‘friends’ along like depression, mood swings, eating disorders, loneliness, withdrawal, anxiety, stress, and unhealthy relationships.
How do we go from having a low opinion of ourselves to being in control of our thoughts and emotions and feeling genuinely happy? It can be done but it takes discipline, just like anything else that’s worth having in life.
This week’s challenge: A Piece of You: be kinder to your body
What part of you have YOU been neglecting lately?
Challenge: Spend the week tending to a part of the remarkable body that serves you. Beginning today, choose a part of your body that you’ve been dismissing or have been neglectful of and pay special attention to that area for the next week by nurturing it every day.
Why this exercise is meaningful: We are just as beautiful as the people we admire. We are worthy of the same nurturing love and affection that we give to others. By concentrating on a specific area of our bodies and treating it with compassion and kindness, we realize that our body is not our enemy but something amazing and worthy of gratitude and appreciation.
Examples: Do you have hands that always seem to be dry? Heels that are always cracked? Do you tend to care for your hair or always pull it back into a ponytail or hide it under a hat? Do you splash water on your face at night or do you gently cleanse and moisturize? When we feel unhappy about our looks, sometimes it’s easy to ‘unplug’ from our bodies and ignore everything but the basics. We simply don’t want to be reminded of the areas we dislike. The trouble with this concept is that when one area suffers, others can suffer as well which can lead to a further lack of self confidence. Work together with your body. Be compassionate and loving to it. It’s the only one of it’s kind.
Helpful quotes for the week:
Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it.
Beauty is not caused. It is.
~ Emily Dickinson
Yours is the energy that makes your world. There are no limitations to the self except those you believe in.
This challenge will run until Wednesday night, January 16th. We’ll discuss it next Thursday. Some questions to consider for our discussion next week:
Which area did you choose to work on? Was it difficult to nurture yourself every day? What did you learn about yourself during this time? Did you grow more compassionate towards that area of your body and/or less critical of it? Were you able to see other parts of your body with more compassion?
NOTE: If you haven’t posted about the Mirror Exercise yet, you can do that here at any time, but in order to entered into the drawing for Karen’s book, you’ll need to have it posted by Sunday night at Midnight EST. A winner will be announced Monday morning!
Have a good weekend, everyone!