Kindness to self – Rediscovering the Lost Body-Connection within Christian Spirituality Number4

How do you treat yourself? What kind of self talk to you engage in?
What about when you are anxious? Or stressed? Or when you’ve made a mistake?

Negative self-talk is not without consequences. We actually have the power to cause self-harm through the words we say (or think).When talking about this with other, I sometimes suggest that we think about our self-talk with a lens of “would I say that to another person?” Sometimes, most times, the answer is a resounding “NO!” But still, the temptation to do this can be great, especially if you heard such negative talk directed to you as a child.

For me personally, it comes to body image. Through the years I’ve reflected on my past and am now in the process of writing my story. Part of the story includes a very negative body image. The root of this is in being told from the time I was in 6th grade that I am fat. I was even put on diets by older siblings. I remember once being so hungry that I stole an apple and quickly ate it while standing behind the house. Can you imagine thinking that an apple is “bad” to eat? But when I look at photos taken when I was a child, I was not fat! (Unfortunately I can’t find any of those photos this week)

After a lifetime of struggle with healthy eating, I have been fat…and I have been thin. Until recently I never maintained a weight, instead always moving up or down (mostly up). I have now been at the same healthy weight (±5 pounds) for the past 2 years. That is a record for me.

And yet, I will still, on occasion, look down at my stomach with derision and say, “I’m so fat!” Maybe this is why the following paragraph hit me:

“If you cannot be kind, caring and supportive inside yourself, then how can you possibly presume that this capacity will magically appear in your dealings with others and the world around you? How our body carries the feelings we have about ourselves is the primary factor influencing all our relationships.” (page 41)

Those are tough words. Thankfully they are tempered by grace. The grace that God gives to each of us as a genuinely free gift. Grace that helps us to know we are valuable and worthy of love – no matter what our bodies look like. Christian spirituality, Christian prayer are rooted in this grace and in the command of Jesus to love. To truly love others we must first learn to love ourselves.

For me, becoming an endurance athlete has taught me to love this wonderful body…just as it is. Loving it means taking care of it with rest and nourishing food and exercise and prayer. It’s all related.

How have you learned to be kind to yourself?

Tired of the Meanness

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Also…before posting or sharing anything on social media.

As I walked through Costco today I could sense a change in the people. It seems as if we were all a bit subdued, quiet, going about our business by rote. Of course I’m the first to admit that this could also be just me projecting my feelings onto the world around me. Is it? Are you too feeling it?

It seems as if we are on tragedy overload. We’ve dealt with natural disasters, but I don’t remember them coming one after another with such rapid succession.

Now we have human made disaster and with it, a sense of powerlessness. We want to do something. This was immediately seen in the rush to donate blood and even food for those waiting. These are wonderful things to do and if I were in Las Vegas I would do them too. Some of us have donated money to the victims. That is good too.

But in finding other things to do, we seem to be a bit lost. I feel lost in this. I don’t want to turn on the news one day in the future to news of another such attack. Pessimistically (or realistically) I know that we will experience more attacks like this. Its as if we resigned ourselves to such a future. I hope and pray that I am wrong.

Meanwhile Facebook is as (I guess) its always been: a mix of pet photos, chain prayers, recipes, inspirational stories, and downright mean memes. You know what I’m talking about because you see them too. The inspirational stories and the pets are so helpful. But they sometimes are overshadowed with the attacks from both the right and the left. Attacks that have important issues at their root, but because they are attacks, will never result in needed dialogue.

Today I think I’ve reached my saturation point with the meanness. As I scroll by I’m tempted to comment, “just stop!”

I also wonder about these posts because I’m not sure the target. These questions run through my mind:

  • Is the poster trying to change the mind of someone?
  • Is the poster throwing “red meat” out to like minded friends?
  • Or, is the poster just sharing something that he/she thought was funny?

As I contemplated this I remembered coming across a different set of questions. I think they originally came from our Quaker friends, but I could be wrong. Regardless, I will make sure that I use these as a filter and I’m hoping that you would choose to join me. These questions use the acronym THINK.

Before you speak – & post or share anything on Facebook or Twitter – THINK

Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?

Let me know what you think.