Did you wince when you read that? I love my body just as it is. It seems like a good idea to at least try to like our body and to honor its needs. Our relationship with our body is complex.
“We” live in a fragile body largely ruled by the primitive brain and nervous system. Our higher level brain development and wisdom can get drowned out in the cacophony of noise generated by hypervigilance, the negativity bias in the brain, and the flood of hormones and chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol.
“We” live in our body and it makes sense to take good care of it. So why is this such a struggle?
Part of the problem is how we evolved. Our helpful brain uses chemicals like dopamine to reinforce strategies like overeating fat and sugar in times of plenty so we have enough stored to see us through lean times. We developed an efficient system that has generated deep grooves of habit and is now widely manipulated for profit. Sex is pleasurable so we procreate. Food tastes good so we eat and survive to pass on our genes. Our system evolved to work well in a world of the past.
We have conflicting needs. The dopamine hits that helped our ancestors survived rages like wildfire in a brain addicted to pornography, sex, gambling, and video games. Fat and sweet foods soothe us emotionally and we override our physical appetite in a search for comfort and escape.
We live in a sexist culture that objectifies women and rewards certain behaviors. In 2020, the beauty industry was valued at 532 billion dollars! Advertising manipulates and shames people into fighting biology to attain a certain look or body size. Our culture, and individuals in it, shames people for being lazy and weak based on body size and we deeply internalize these messages. We turn against ourselves. Too many people feel disgust when they look in the mirror.
Can we compete with biology and culture and access our higher level brain development and human qualities like compassion and connection? Is it really possible to love our body? Is it realistic to expect we can calm the storms of hormones and hypervigilance generated in our primitive brain and nervous system? Can you inhabit and enjoy your body as it is right now?
Yes! Join us Sunday 10AM Eastern as we explore our complicated and rich relationship with the body we live in.
This summer we are looking into topics from my upcoming book Ordinary Trauma, Extraordinary Healing: Inspiring Stories and Practical Tools to Ease the Pain of Being Human.