On our ranch, we have a beautiful, secluded place that we simply, but affectionately, call “The River Bottoms.” It’s only about a mile from our home, but it sits down lower and is out of the way, away from any roads and houses, and when you go there, you just feel like you are the only people in the world. Completely away from it all. We love to go there for picnics, campfires, family get-togethers, friend parties, and camping trips. My husband and I have even been on several dates down there. We just love it!
Although the camp fire is typically the gathering place, and is where we spend most of our time at The River Bottoms, we can’t make a trip down there without going to the river. It’s not a large river, but the kids love to throw rocks in it, race sticks, and try to cross it if the water isn’t too high. There isn’t a bridge, and it’s too wide to jump, so the only way across is to find a path of stepping stones and step or jump from rock to rock. It can be challenging, but is doable.
I feel like changing our thoughts can be much the same. In another blog post, I talked about changing our thoughts—weeding out negative ones, and then replacing them with more positive and empowering thoughts. Thoughts that feel better and lead us to take the actions needed to create the results we want in our lives. If you are like me, you may think: This sounds wonderful, but the thought I want to think is just too big of a jump. I don’t believe it. How can I go from “I hate my body” to “I love my body”? The river is too wide.
So you find yourself sitting on the banks of the river on the “I hate my body” side and truly wanting to get to the other side, but you feel overwhelmed and unable to make the leap. Maybe you feel like if you just find the right diet, the right motivation to exercise, or join the right challenge, you will be able to create enough momentum to make the leap all the way to the “I love my body” side. But over and over, you have fallen in the river, and pulled yourself ashore back on the same side, more discouraged than ever.
But what if there were stepping stones? Could you make it across then? Yes, you could! You just have to begin and take it one step at a time. Don’t get in a hurry. Just take it step by step by step.
So what is the first step then? The first stepping stone is just paying attention to and noticing your thoughts. So many thoughts happen without us even consciously thinking them. We have thought them so many times that they have just become our default. But when you can start to notice them, you are taking that first step.
From there, find the next stepping stone that is right for you. There are many paths across the river, and you get to choose which one you take. There are two criteria for choosing your next step. One—you have to believe the thought. And two—it has to feel better than the previous thought.
Here are a few possibilities for that next step. See if there is one that you can believe and that feels better than your current thought about your body.
I have a body. (Neutralizing the emotion by stating the circumstance rather than your thought can be a good first step.)
I might be wrong about never being able to love my body. (Being able to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts and could even be wrong can lessen the pain of the thought.)
It’s possible that I will love my body someday. (Can you believe a thought of hope? Hope usually feels better to me.)
I don’t love my body yet, and that’s ok. (Do you hear everything going on in that thought?? You can soften it by saying “don’t love” rather than hate. The word “yet” implies that things will change. And the last tag, “and that’s ok” takes the guilt or shame out of the situation. This might be a great first step!)
Once you have taken those first couple steps—you have noticed your thoughts, chose the next believable thought that feels better than your current thought, and then thought that new thought enough times that it has replaced the old one—you are ready to find your next footing. The next step is likely one of acceptance. Not love yet, but acceptance. From a thought of acceptance, try the next step—respect. From respect, you can move to appreciation, and then finally, you will find your feet on the other side of the river. You will truly feel love for your body.
This journey across the river is not usually an easy one. It may take a lot of time. You may slip. You may fall. But you can always start again. At times, you may get stuck, and feel unable to find the next step, the next thought. But I promise you it is there, available to you. Keep looking. Keep trying. If one thought path isn’t working for you, look for a new route. There are many ways across the river, but leaping isn’t one of them. Step by step is the way you will get there.
No matter which step of your path you are on, I want to help you find the next step. Stick with me. Use the tools I share here. Feel free to contact me at any time. I love getting to know my readers and would love to help you with anything that I can! Your path to loving your body is unique, and worth the effort. You are worth the effort. Believe it.
Love your body, and your body will love you.♥