Better Body Esteem™ is a five-step process that includes gaining awareness of body image issues and overcoming shame. Two other important aspects of this process are appreciation and acceptance.
I teach people to look every day at the things they can be grateful for, for example, “I have two legs that I can walk on.” (A side note: Who knew this idea would be so personally meaningful to me years later when I fractured my kneecap.) Focusing your attention on what you do have creates a healthy and inspiring perspective that inspires positive action (another key part of the Better Body Esteem® program). Appreciation is about seeing the abundance of life, instead of the scarcity.
There are concrete actions that will increase your sense of accomplishment and appreciation for yourself. Ask your doctor to approve an exercise or rehabilitation program. Do the recommended stretches or exercises you’ve been given by a professional. Join a restorative yoga class. (P.S. Ask us about our “a pose a day” resource!)
Forgive yourself for any self-inflicted injuries or conditions such as dental problems or stretch marks, and turn to self-loving actions such as flossing or applying body lotion. Follow your food plan and take any recommended supplements. Find an accountability buddy to check in with about the amazing accomplishments you are achieving.
In some cases, the most self-loving action you can take will be to enter a residential treatment program or an intensive therapy process.
Acceptance can begin right now, in any stage of recovery. The sooner you can accept yourself and your body as you are right now, the sooner you will be able to evolve into the next stage.
There is a powerful story in Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book” of AA), called “Acceptance Was the Answer.” You can read it online at https://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/. Navigate to the Personal Stories section, Part II, “They Stopped in Time,” and search for the title: “Acceptance Was the Answer.”
The message here is that we can aspire to accept things exactly as they are, without judging things, people, or ourselves. We can live in this moment, rather than worrying about the past or how things will turn out in the future.
The last of the Five A’s is affirmations, which are a tool I find to be very helpful as people are teaching themselves to appreciate and acknowledge themselves and take positive action. You can use affirmations to notice what you’re doing, how you’re changing and improving yourself, and also to practice accepting and affirming that you’re perfect just the way you are in this present moment. Herein lies the gift of recovery.