The New Fad Diet: Inherent Worthiness
Imagine a friend, one you care deeply for, confiding in you about relationship struggles. On a daily basis, they find themselves barraged with judgments from their partner. Your friend goes out of their way to support their mate, yet only receives criticism in return. Through the continual critique and shaming, what your friend seems to hear is, “If it weren’t for the way that you are, I’d be happy. I need you to change if you want me to love you. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to even be seen with you.”
Of course, if a friend came to us with these concerns, we’d be pretty adamant that this relationship is not a healthy one. We’d most likely advise them to pack up their things, and tell them that they deserve much better. With this in mind, I invite you to look at the relationship you hold with your own body. What kind of messages do your thoughts project? On a conscious level it may not be obvious, but many of us regularly send messages to our bodies which say, “If it weren’t for you, I’d be happy and worthy of love.”
This is an innocent mistake, really. Our bodies aren’t the problem, whether we’re concerned with the way they look or their functionality. The problem is that piece in our heart that decided, through the pains of life, that there must be something wrong with ‘me’. I’ve heard the spiritual teacher Adyashanti describe this as “the core wound of unworthiness,” and it is deeply embedded in many of the stories we tell ourselves. We may not be aware of it, but when we have this wound, our minds are constantly looking at ways to redeem ourselves by attempting to fix whatever needs to be fixed to make us worthy. For many people, this “error”’ in need of correction becomes their own body.
The belief that our bodies depict our value is so ingrained in our cultural mythology, that even our children ridicule those who don’t fit certain body standards. Where did these standards come from? Did they come down from above? Is there a universal truth that says only certain bodies deserve love? Of course not. It’s one piece of a story we’ve been told and accepted as fact. The beautiful thing about stories, especially the painful ones, is they require our participation to exist. We can stop telling them.
The Opportunity for Freedom
Believing there is an error in us and that the purpose of life is to correct that error is a story most of us have been trained to accept. When we believe in this story, we inevitably fixate on the errors in others, too. The truth is, there is nothing inherently right or wrong with how anybody looks. Everything is as it is, and beyond our judgments, exactly as it should be. Examining our relationships with our bodies is a wonderful invitation towards learning how to surrender to life, noticing how our minds continually resist reality through our judgments and condemnations. We can have preferences, of course, but there’s a wonderful freedom in liberating ourselves from the conviction that we need everything to be a certain way in order to feel at peace with ourselves. Happiness comes from seeing beyond these stories of unworthiness. Happiness comes from understanding that we are already perfectly whole, fulfilled, unique, and beautiful as we are.
So what happens when we realize that we no longer need to prove our worthiness? Do we stop engaging with the world, stop interacting with the complexities of life because there’s nothing there for us to exploit? No, quite the opposite. We live our lives out of the love of being alive. We see ourselves and everyone else as inherently worthy of love and care and treat our bodies accordingly. If we feel compelled to, we make changes to restore health and wellbeing to the body, not out of shame or fear, but because we care deeply about our own wellbeing. Maybe we keep on exercising and challenging ourselves with new athletic feats; maybe we decide we’d rather take up more gentle practices like yoga and tai chi. Either way, we are doing so because we love the feeling we get from it, we love the joy of movement, and we love the way it makes us feel in our skin.
It’s so incredible all the beautiful things our bodies do for us, the experiences they allow us to have, the places they take us and the myriad of abilities of which they are capable. We have these bodies on borrowed time, and when we let go of trying to find our worth in their appearance, we can really start to love them. The amazing thing is that when we develop a loving relationship with our bodies, we start to get in touch with them on a more intimate level. We are able to hear what they need from us, what foods they want to eat, and what kind of care they need. If we are interested in developing our intuitive senses, one of which includes the sense of connection with all things, then forming a friendly alliance with the body is paramount for that growth.
Are you ready to stop telling yourself the painful story you’ve gotten so used to, the one founded on the lie of being unlovable? Are you ready to ‘embody’ the truth of inherent worthiness? Are you ready to give permission for others to experience this freedom just the same? Are you ready to make amends with your wonderfully unique and imperfect body? I hope so. You deserve it.