What My Broken Toe Has Reminded Me About Body Acceptance!
Don’t you love the adventure of life? On 11/8/19, I broke my toe on the side of my bed (yes I coughed and walked in the dark at the same time – I learnt my lesson 🙂 ). Since I broke it, I have learnt to have a greater acceptance and appreciation of my body and what it does every day.
What is Body Acceptance?
Up until last week, I hadn’t really thought about it (I had used the term body gratitude). However, after my accident, I began to explore deeper about body acceptance and found Tracy Tylka’s definition. She defines body acceptance as –
“accepting one’s body regardless of not being completely satisfied with all aspects of it.”
When I read that definition it resonated, especially in regards to my current situation. Yes, I would prefer not to have a broken toe, however I have chosen to accept the situation and do what I can as I didn’t want to create further challenges, With daily awareness, self-compassion and mindfulness, I am accepting my broken toe, not resist it (like I had done so many times before) and welcome the experience as much as I can, just like a guest house.
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
The 5 Stages of Acceptance
For me, I found the stages of body acceptance, similar to how Christopher Germer sees the stages of acceptance. In his book, the Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions, Germer shares his 5 stages of acceptance. The stages are –
- Aversion – avoiding or resisting what is going on,
- Curiosity – starting to turn to the discomfort with interest and curiosity,
- Tolerance – safely enduring,
- Allowing – letting the discomfort (feelings) come and go,
- Friendship – seeing the value of all experiences and befriending your experiences of life (i.e. sitting down with the guest and listening to what the guest has to say).
It is important to note, this is not a linear process – it is dynamic. The stages are about awareness and learning to have a new relationship with life as it is and the feelings/emotions and thoughts associated with it – moving from resistance to acceptance. As resistance creates suffering and acceptance alleviates it.
Shifting from Body Resistance to Body Acceptance
This past week, I have reflected more on my life and my body (as I have had the time 🙂 ). I can see how much resistance/aversion and lack of acceptance I have had around my own body. Growing up, I was told many times (from numerous well-meaning adults and professionals) that I couldn’t eat certain foods, needed to train in certain ways and certain number of hours, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to be a professional tennis player. Until now, I didn’t see the link.
Unconsciously, this started a resistance/aversion within my body (as I couldn’t accept it the way it was – yes I was told several times I was not the right size to be a tennis player and my skin folds were too high). Over the years, this developed in to a lack of trust and not listening to my body. Wow oh wow!
I now know, why I coach the way I do and help people tune back in to their bodies and trust themselves, so they can be the expert in their own lives. Who would have thought, breaking my toe would have led to this insight and awareness? Am so grateful!
Please note, I am also grateful for all of the help and support I had over my years as an athlete (and I choose to live above the line and be responsible for my own life). In my heart, I do know everyone was doing the best they knew how to do at the time. However, when you know better you do better and that is why I am curious, why people don’t support you to listen to your body and trust your own inner wisdom more (maybe that’s a post for another day).
Over to You…
I hope this post has give you some insight in to body acceptance. What can you do now to start accepting your body? If you’re interested in finding our more about body acceptance, you are welcome to contact me here or join the toolkit here 🙂 For me, I am going to continue to care for my toe and respect and accept what I can do each day as it heals in my NOW body.
Germer, C. (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions. New York: Guilford Press.
Tylka, T. L. (2011). Positive psychology perspectives on body image. In T. F. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.), Body image: A handbook of science, practice, and prevention (2nd ed., pp. 55–64). New York. doi:10.1016/b978–0–12-384925-0.00104-8