Editor’s note: These posts were written back when my brand name was Remodel Fitness. I’ve decided to include them here without editing them, in the interest of…well… transparency. 😉
When we talk about body image, we’re not just talking about bodies.
I wish we were, honestly, because that would be so much easier. In my experience however, our bodies are really just the convenient location upon which we place our disappointment, anger, hatred, and deepest fears. Why? Because our bodies, especially as women, often carry around long, sad histories of pain and fear. Some big moments, but many small.
Our bodies were there every time someone trespassed across our boundaries, and our bodies were there when we were quiet instead of saying no. Our bodies have felt bliss that ended in crushing pain, and believed we were safe only to discover we’d been playing with fire.
If you poke an amoeba too many times, it dies.
Did you know that? It’s such a sad and beautiful story. If you poke an amoeba once, it contracts to defend itself, and then after it feels safe again, it opens back up. If you poke it again, it will contract again, and this time it’ll take a little longer to open back up. It might not in fact ever even fully expand again to it’s original state. After a few pokes, the amoeba becomes- for all intents and purposes- anxious. It’s been hurt, and scared; it loses trust in the environment, and it stays small.
The thing is, we are all exactly like the amoeba. When we experience pain and fear, we also contract and shrink.We tense up and stop trusting the world.
If we experience enough pain and fear, we are never fully the same again.
Eventually– if you poked that amoeba often enough– it would stay contracted, shrink, and die. (Crazy, right??)
As humans, we can endure an extraordinary amount of poking and still survive. But if we have been “poked” often, we are not living in our fully expanded and optimal states. Instead we are living on the defense– tense, small, anxious, defending ourselves against another attack.
There is nothing wrong with contracting, surely. There’s also nothing wrong with taking a break from the big scary world to go inside, heal, and make sure you’re safe.
But many people get stuck in contraction. They get stuck being small, and closed, and scared. They completely lose access to their big, free, expanded selves, and the relaxed, open bodies that come with that. Instead, they get stuck with endless loops of anxiety running through their minds, based on the vague sense that another poke might arrive at any moment.
It’s easy to see how the fear of pain and suffering might lead to a fixation on becoming physically smaller, no? How much smaller can I get? Perhaps if I was a smaller target I would be safer.
Or, on the flip side, I’ve worked with women who wore their extra weight as a defense against unwanted attention, effectively using “fat” as an invisibility cloak to keep themselves safe.
Particularly with women, our bodies are constantly trying to protect us, even if we don’t understand how and why.
Before we have the skills or power to feel safe in this world we live in, we let our bodies do the work of protecting us. Unfortunately in our culture nobody is ever really taught those skills. We don’t know how to feel safe in our bodies, or our environments. So we stay stuck in contraction, stuck with crushing anxiety, and stuck with distorted and painful relationships to our bodies.
That’s actually why I created my eight week course Remodel Stress (previously named Relax, Unwind. Heart, Body & Mind!)– to teach women how to feel safe and fully expand again.
When we talk about body image, we’re really talking about fear and anxiety. And when we talk about fear and anxiety, we’re talking about a deep sense of vulnerability and unsafety in our bodies and our environments. Until we handle (and dismantle) those feelings, our bodies are going to continue to bear the brunt of our sadness, anger, fear, and hatred.
While you’ll have to stay tuned this week for more information on how to sign up for Remodel Stress, I’ve created a FREE three-part video series on anxiety for you, which I’ll be sharing all week.
And in it I teach you two of my very favorite practices for reducing anxiety. Check it out, and be sure to leave me a comment with your thoughts and questions!!
Then stay tuned for the second and third videos all this week. I’ll be sharing how to go even deeper, and what it really takes to bust anxiety from the inside out.
Happy Tuesday my darlings,
<3 Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.
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