Self Acceptance And My Body
I was outside in the cold weather in my bathrobe and bedroom slippers emptying Clorox bottles into my pool system. As I sat on the couch afterwards feeling my numb hands — and considering the silliness of what I had done, the implications starting coming on. Not only is it very cold outside, not only was I underdressed, but for the last few days I have been battling a terrible cold, and though I was feeling better, I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
I noticed myself laugh at my silliness(Seemed like acceptance.) The details of this event might be unique, but the plot was all too familiar. I wondered why my wife hadn’t tried to stop me — or make me wrap up better — or check on me after I had been outside for over 20 minutes. But I know how that would have looked; I can remember times in the past where her ‘nagging’ didn’t help anything … She has learned how to support me even when I am being self-destructive…
…I didn’t feel like I was being self-destructive. I didn’t feel like anything was wrong actually. Only, here I was, sicker than I had been in years, and both sweating and freezing on my couch, feeling somewhat chagrined.
I thought for a moment “am I being self-accepting?”(this is where habits/muscle memory serves well) It was a mere question — I certainly didn’t feel like I wasn’t being self-accepting. I was laughing at myself actually. However, I thought of all the times I tell my clients: “you can’t have too much self-acceptance, when in doubt give yourself some more.”
“Ok, lets see what happens,” I thought as I decided to apply self-acceptance to myself.
I started relaxing — hmm — I didn’t even notice I had been tense. I started checking to see how I was feeling towards myself, not just superficially … internally, it was a bit chaotic actually! Beneath this seeming calm exterior was a very tightly controlled mess of feelings. Nothing too strong to push through the calm veneer, yet strong enough to move me into a low-level limbic flight!
Hmmm, self acceptance — I began really giving myself permission to not know why I do what I do; not need to have good reasons or good answers. Wow, I do need more of this self-acceptance right now! I could feel myself start to calm down inside. I had been running from the feeling without even knowing it!
I felt a distinct relief — relief that I was looking at myself. Relief that I wasn’t pushing these feelings aside but instead being willing to be with them. Relief that I stopped running.
I could see that just below my calm exterior I had two opposing thoughts fighting with each other. The first thought was how “stupid it was, I should know better, I might be sick longer because of this.” The second thought was “just get it done, don’t think about cost – don’t be a wimp, your body doesn’t matter, mind over body can do anything.”
That second thought has been a pattern all my life. I dismiss my body. I have even considered it a spiritual discipline to make it impervious to cold or heat.
Wow! I pride myself on my ability to compartmentalize my feelings and do whatever it takes to get a job done. That has been one of my ‘competitive advantages’ allowing me to do nearly superhuman feats because I don’t hear any complaints from my body (much less well-wishing people) — once I choose to do something.
Waves of sadness.
This has been one of my forms of ‘specialness.’ My expression of ‘I-am-enoughness.’
I have put my body on the sacrificial alter many times in my life to prove myself. I do it without even knowing that I am doing it. I laugh at the consequence to my body – soreness, cuts, bruises. I am creating some sense of power by denying the humanity of my body.
With self-acceptance I see how I disconnect from myself and go into “Go mode.” I am no longer acting or considering what is in my best interest. I am gone, the only thing is the task.
I learned to ‘disappear myself’ during childhood beatings. What was happening to my body didn’t matter anymore as I retreated into my intellect. My body, and any feelings it had, was a weakness or liability. Wow! I still do this often.
I take a deep breath as I consider my body now — consciously. My relationship to it has improved so much over the years. I have done so much to care for it and partner with it. And yet, I have been so mean to it. I have not noticed how quickly I disconnect from it and tell it to just “handle it!”
I feel profoundly grateful for the weather and my cold — which has led me to this awareness. I am most grateful for my body that hasn’t abandoned me in all the years that I have so easily abandoned it.
Today: I am thankful for my humanness both in mind and in body!