It’s hard to care for something or someone you don’t enjoy, don’t understand, don’t like or are even fearful or disgusted by. I might dislike or be fearful of certain people I come into contact with which leads me to dehumanize them – to think about them and treat them as less than human and to not afford them the rights or well-wishes I might afford other people I do like. Indeed this is the basis of prejudice and mistreatment of others in our community – when we fear another person or we don’t like their values or their impact on our community, we cease to love them. We do the same with our body.
When we have unresolved animosity toward our body from trauma or cultural messages, it’s not surprising that we have trouble doing things like going to the gym or resisting that bucket of ice cream. When our body is a source of pain or confusion or fear, we can tend to treat it the same as we would someone in our community we don’t like. We can tend to think of our body as inhuman – not worthy of love, comfort, respect or care. In order to successfully care for our body we need a bridge from fearing it to loving it – self-compassion is that bridge.
When we have the tools to go in to our emotional body’s experience, to not only withstand the aspects of our body that we judge or feel disgusted by, but to learn to see them as sweet and tender manifestations of our humanness, we can start to take steps to take care of this dear old vessel we can learn to call home. Through understanding that our body is doing the best it can to take care of us, even when it’s “failing,” we can learn ways to soften our attitude, to reach out to our body, to get curious, even to forgive our body for not being perfect. Just as we are trying, in our culture, to heal the rifts that breed unseenness and unheardness, we need to heal the rifts that lead us to unsee and unhear about body. Indeed, if we want to move into the world and do our best work in community, self-compassion and self-care toward our body likely need to be our template. If I know what self-compassion and self-care look like in relation to this body, I’ll have an embodied sense of what it looks like in relation to the bodies around me. When I get an embodied sense that my body and my mind are just doing the best they can to be happy, it becomes more and more apparent that every other body and mind is doing the same. This does not mean we condone bad behavior, but it does help us engage with those around us from a place of respect rather than fear.
If you’re feeling as if you’re not doing enough to fight the good fight, or you’re asking yourself, “Why am I not doing more?” you might check in with your own self-care and self-compassion. Am I at home here yet? Have I reconciled with myself? Should I do this at-home work first to free me up for the work in my community? Self-compassion may be the most important radical act you do to further social justice.
If you’re interested in exploring self-compassion and self-care as a body experience, I’d love to see you at the next Somatic Self-Compassion Online course starting in August. You can find out more here. And you can sign up for a free information-sharing gathering here. We’d love to see you in community!
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