Self-Improvement & Self-Love

Listen up ya’ll.

Yesterday I got an email from a woman who was
considering joining my body confidence group coaching program, but
wasn’t sure if it would be possible for her to ever love or
accept her body, since (in her words) she is a “very fat black
woman with immune disease and chronic pain.”

Then she mentioned that she was afraid if she did
figure out how to love her body, she would never lose weight, which
would be (again in her words) “extremely bad.”

I wrote back:

“It sounds like you have perfectly good reasons to keep hating
and rejecting your body, if you want to.”

I’m pretty sure my answer freaked her out; she was
expecting me to respond with some “you can do it!”
encouragement to join the program and love herself.

But the truth is that this woman clearly has a strong
and self-protective reason to not love her body, which in my
experience will trump everything else. Some part of her still
believes that loving herself would be dangerous, because she
worries it would mean she has to “give up” on her weight loss
goal, which is too scary.

Have you ever worried that loving or accepting
your body is the same thing as “giving up” on your goals for
self-improvement, or that you should wait until after you lose
weight (or whatever) to start the love and acceptance
part?

I hear this from clients all the time.

Thinking negative thoughts about how you look is
familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s easy, and it gives you a sense
of being on the moral high-ground. Negative thoughts are
“motivational,” after all, right? They’re all about
self-improvement, and trying to be your “best self”!

And it can be really damn scary to imagine giving
these thoughts up, especially if you think these thoughts
are an important factor in helping you make changes
that
you really want, like losing weight or getting into shape.

But the thing is, most people think healing their
relationship to their body means they just replace their negative
thoughts with positive thoughts, and move along their merry way
feeling confident, beautiful, and worthy… and then because they
feel so confident, they never change or improve anything about
themselves ever again.

First of all– how on earth would that be possible,
to just replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts? Surely
you’ve tried this, right? It doesn’t work.

This is kinda like saying that in order to get an
education you should just replace all of your dumb thoughts with
smart thoughts and you’ll be good to go!

It completely misrepresents and erases the long and
energetically intense process of schooling, learning, processing,
discussing, writing, and experiencing, and the millions of little
paradigm shifts and identity changes that occur along the way.

The same is true when it comes to body image.

Learning to accept and love your body for how it is
right now will be some of the most challenging and important
self-improvement work you will ever do.

That’s because it requires you to explore and reject
your current paradigm about a person’s worth, and rebuild a new
one in its place. It requires you to challenge everything you’ve
ever believed, and destabilize some core cultural ideas about
health, weight, food, exercise, beauty, and gender. It requires you
to be fiercely courageous, and patient, and honest with yourself
about what you need, want, and value.

My clients never seem to see this messy
self-improvement work coming.

They often show up terrified that they’re
accidentally flip a switch and start accepting their bodies too
quickly. They tell me that they don’t want to love themselves too
much because then they won’t be motivated to “improve
themselves,” or because they can’t stand the idea of gaining
weight, or giving up weight loss goals.

Kind of like a woman joining a gym and telling her
trainer that she “doesn’t want to put on too much muscle, or
get too bulky,” I always tell my clients that they are not in any
danger of this happening, because the process is very hard work, it
unfolds slowly, and you have lots of time to process and consider
your values and priorities along the way.

That’s why the promise I made to the very fat black
woman with immune disease and chronic pain who emailed me was
this:

“You will not love or accept your body until you are
ready.

The work of Authentic Body Confidence will be laying the
groundwork to get you ready, crumbling and reconstructing your
inner landscape so that by the time you are ready to face true
acceptance and love for your body, giving up the pursuit of weight
loss (if indeed you decide that’s the most loving course of
action) will no longer feel like a sacrifice.”

The gritty inner work of exploring body neutrality,
body confidence, and self-worth is some of the most challenging and
important work you will ever do. Your “best self” and your
desire for “self- improvement” will both be satisfied in the
long run if you dive into it, I can promise you that.

But if you’re afraid that you’re not ready to
“give up” on yourself, or that this work will force you to
sacrifice something that feels really important to you today (like
losing weight, looking beautiful, or feeling sexy) let me put your
mind at ease.

First of all, self-care and healthy habits are a hell
of a lot easier when you feel truly worthy and like yourself.

Secondly, negative body image is
self-protective, and until you truly no longer need that
protection, you will not love or accept your body.

My group coaching program
Authentic Body Confidence
is designed to help people
figure out what dangerous and enigmatic threat they seem to need
protection from, and work through that. This is the messy personal
development part, because it often includes figuring out what
emotional needs are going unmet in your life, what really hurts
deep down, and what fears have been running the show of your
life.

Thanks to all this work, by the time you’re actually
ready to let go of self-hatred, self-criticism, body negativity,
food/weight anxiety, and other body image issues, doing so will no
longer feel like a sacrifice, or a threat.

If you love personal development and self-improvement,
you will never be bored on this journey. I know I never am.
😉

But likewise, you will also never be rushed into
giving up something that still feels important to you. That’s
just not how this works.

So… if you’re worried that self-acceptance is akin
to giving up on self-improvement, I challenge you to dive in
anyway.

Yours in forever growth,

<3

Jessi

The post Self-Improvement
& Self-Love
appeared first on Jessi Kneeland.

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Self-Improvement &amp; Self-Love