In my coaching and the authentic relating trainings I facilitate we focus on relationship. Any relationship really: the relationship to your self, the people in your life, your passion. I want to support my clients in having fulfilling relationships, and we work on exploring what might be in the way, gain insight and strengthen what wants to emerge.
The relationship that has been present in my life a lot recently, is my relationship to my body. And more specifically: my relationship to my body as a woman.
Over the years I have gradually learned that my wisdom, and my true power, is in my body
Nowhere else. It has been a process of gradually descending from the clouds, out of my head into the present, into here and now, into my home: my body.
And yet, at the same time, my relationship with that same body, with my home, has been rocky at best. It’s my perception of how I should look, or how I need to be(have), that is often getting in the way of fully connecting to the messages my body is giving me.
I am often not okay with my body. With how she is showing up. She is either not convenient, telling me to slow down when I really need to finish something important. She is always in flow, which is awkward, as I expect myself to perform continuously. And foremost: she does not look like I want her to look most of the times. And that’s a biggy. I have judgements on how I look. Sure, they are often subtle. But they are so persistent.
Most women I know struggle with their body, and their perception of it
Most of them wise, evolved, conscious, life-loving, awesome women. Why is that? I am sure there are as many stories as there are women. And I am seeing some universal themes in this too. It seems to me that we internalised some ‘right’ way of looking, which always seems just out of range. Hence we never get there, hence we are always making ourselves slightly wrong. I think it is probably a combination of beliefs passed on to us through our female lineage, images of photo-shopped models we picked up when growing up, the highly critical eyes (and tongues) of women amongst ourselves. And other stuff. All external things. And somewhere along the way we internalised them, using them as our own measurement of judgement of our own bodies.
So in the process of becoming more intimate with this beautiful source of wisdom, it has become clear to me that that is a relationship I want to work on. Don’t get me wrong: I love myself. And maybe because of that I realised that this core relationship in my life needed some healing. I want to bring consciousness to it. And I hope to inspire more women to take that leap with me. Because this is a topic that touches me deeply. I believe that this way of relating to our bodies often gets in the way of fully letting ourselves shine. I know it does for me. It makes me angry, sad, frustrated. I want to change this.
This is a call to all women for whom this resonates: let’s start loving our bodies. Let’s support each other in this. Let’s become wise. Let’s shine. Together.
It might have started unconscious when we where younger but at some point, it does become a conscious choice: how are we choosing to relate to our female bodies?
The inspiration for this blog was a conversation I had with a dear, long-term friend a few weeks ago. It was one of those perfect Amsterdam summer days. We were sitting on a beautiful terrace. The sun was out. All was good. We looked gorgeous, life was gorgeous.
Somewhere during that lovely afternoon we ended up in a passionate conversation. About our bodies, about our relationship, as women, to our bodies. This is a topic that we both feel deeply about.
My friend is a new mum. To a beautiful 9 month old daughter. I have known her since she was 18 and have seen her grow, develop, shine and walk her path in life. She is gorgeous. She always has been. I am not exaggerating this because she is my friend, she simply is beautiful. Inside and out. All my friends are, really. True beauties. Heck, most women I know are gorgeous. Women are gorgeous! But I am straying from my point. My friend was sharing the insights she gained from becoming pregnant, and becoming a mother, and most specifically what she realised about her relationship to her body.
Ever since I know her, my friend has been highly self-critical about her body. She felt herself too fat, parts of her body too big or too small. There was always something not quite right. As her friend, I remember often feeling sad hearing her speak so negatively about herself. At different times I re-assured her, appreciated her beauty or got mad at her for talking herself down. I remember the ache in my heart seeing her not able to fully appreciate her own beauty, as it was, right in that moment. Because she was: beautiful.
Already when pregnant, knowing she would have a daughter, she started talking about her increasing awareness about this pattern in herself. She started realising that her way of talking about her body was less than kind to herself. She realised, having gained weight from her pregnancy, that she had been living her ideal, and had never been able to appreciate that in those moments. And more importantly – she realised she did not want to pass this behaviour on to her little girl. That touched me deeply. It made sense to me she carried that pattern, knowing her background. But her conscious choice to break the chain really impacted me. Now, 9 months later, she has not lost her pregnancy kilos, despite her best efforts. She had to come to terms with that. And she did. And she kept her commitment; she is fierce about not talking negatively about how she looks. And she still is beautiful. Radiant. With a beautiful little girl by her side. Her story and fierce commitment are an inspiration to me. I am so proud of her.
The reason this is touching me so deeply, is that I do the same thing. I have judged, and sometimes still judge, my body fiercely. And specifically the part I now refer to as the source of my wisdom: my belly. My belly has a mind of it’s own. It tends to swell up when I am emotional. It tends to pop out when I feel less than centered. It’s like a beacon to my state of being. And for years I have hated it for it.
Each time I would take a shower, I would look down at my belly and detest it. Wanting it to shrink, go away, be anything but that swollen balloon. I felt ugly, fat, sort of second class. I was not listening to it, I was making it very wrong for being the way it was. It makes me sad, writing that down right now.
With my growing awareness around how I relate, a growing awareness around the way I am relating to my female body has gradually creeped in. And at some point I realised: if my belly is my source of wisdom, I want to relate to that source with kindness, listen to it, take in her messages. I want to stop letting ingrained beliefs getting in the way of that connection.
It is not easy. It takes awareness and practice. The grooves run deep. Right now my belly has been bloated for a while already. In the shower I still look down on my belly and my first instinctual reaction is often one of stress or frustration. And then I catch myself. I pause. And I start relating in a different way: I ask my belly: “What is going on for you?”. “What do you need?”. And the answers come: clear as rain. I need rest. I want chamomille tea. Slow down.
It sure never tells me to speed up, go faster, do more. And that’s the plea I want to make. In this time, in this city life, in a life that allows me to follow my passion, in a world that goes fast, I want to honour my body. My female body. It has a wisdom of it’s own. It’s wisdom is not in speed. It’s in slowing down to the rhythm of nature. It bleeds. It has cycles, each part with it’s own wisdom. It’s never constant. When I even think about slowing down so I can feel that, I feel the power of nature flowing through me.
It’s that simple
So this is a call out to all you women reading this. Let’s all start doing this. Let’s become powerful beyond measure. Let’s start truly loving and respecting our bodies and inspire and support each other to do the same. Let’s stop judging each other (yes, you know you do). Let’s cut the crap and honour each other fully for who we uniquely are: amazing women that are doing amazing things in life: following our dreams, raising children, tending to the world, being lovers. And cooking, cleaning, planning life, traveling, expanding our awareness, caring for our gardens and animals, looking amazing, making time for friends and family. And still finding time to dance, journal, be silent, call that friend, do some good. All the while having those amazing bodies in flux that are not always running parallel to all that ambition.
So. Let’s learn new ways. Let’s start listening. Let’s allow our female bodies to tell us what is going on. Let’s honour them. Let’s honour ourselves. And each other. In every way, shape or form.
Let’s break the chain. Who’s with me?