Thanks to Dr. Brené Brown's concept of Living BIG (practicing boundaries, integrity, and generosity) people everywhere are making shifts in how they relate to others. At the foundation of Living BIG is the belief that others are doing the best they can. As a result of this belief, we are more likely to respond to others with more empathy and compassion. We stop attempting to change others' behaviors with criticism or shaming. We become more intentional in setting interpersonal boundaries, holding ourselves accountable, and being more generous with our working frameworks of others and our relationships.
Just for the fun of it - What would happen if we believed our bodies are doing the best they can? Personally, I think we would notice seismic shifts in our relationship to our bodies. Here are just a few of my thoughts how things might change.
1. Our perspective may shift from, "I am my body," to "I am in a life-long relationship with my body." I might add it feels more like an arranged marriage since we didn't personally choose our body at conception. Providing a little distance between our ourselves and our bodies may be just enough space to accept that our body does not define us, nor does it determine our worthiness for love and belonging. Just as a long term relationship with a partner does not define us or determine our worthiness, neither do our bodies.
2. When we believe our bodies are doing the best they can we're more likely to respond to our bodies with empathy; imagine what it's like to be our body. We may consider where our body is coming from, what it has yet to learn, it's genetic predispositions, history; years of use, growth, trauma, pregnancy, childbirth, manual labor, illness, disordered eating, excessive exercise, substance abuse and more. It's harder to stay mad at our bodies or feel ashamed of them when we remember everything they've been through, and harder yet when we recognize how hard they are working to provide us with what they can; a myriad of functioning systems so that we may physically experience and interact with the world around us. We may even begin to appreciate our bodies and all their complexity rather than focusing on the surface, just as we do in long term relationships.
3. When we believe our bodies are doing the best they can we're able to respond with compassion. Treating our bodies with compassion means viewing them without judgment and no longer attempting to change them with criticism or shaming. We're less likely to fall into futile thinking that our bodies are failing us or holding back on us. We feel less resentment and more gratitude. Compassionate responses might look like respecting our bodies' limits, accepting and celebrating our bodies as they are, responding to our bodies' needs with kindness, and nurturing them with physical care, and positive affirmations. Would we treat the people we love in the same way we talk to and treat our own bodies?
4. We can Live BIG in relation to our bodies. We can set boundaries. Our bodies do not define us. We are responsible to our bodies - how we treat them, but not responsible for our bodies' reactions. Keep in mind our bodies' reactions may communicate how they feel we're treating it, or may be unrelated at all. We can live with integrity, hold ourselves accountable for the care we provide our body, acknowledge the role we play in relation to our body. And lastly, we can be generous in our working framework of our bodies, assume the best possible motivation and intention that our bodies are trying to keep us healthy, safe, and experience the world around us.
Just as the Living BIG concept is changing people to people relationships everywhere, I think it also has the power to change the relationship we have with our bodies. Next time we catch a glimpse of our bodies in the mirror, let's pause to recognize our bodies are not us, refrain from judging them and shaming them, and celebrate the relationship we have with our bodies after all these years. Our bodies truly are doing the best they can.