“By paying attention and by listening to yourself, you can begin to get to the root of your attitudes and feelings. And from there it is easy to see what needs to change.” – Deb Shapiro
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” – Albert Schweitzer
One of the most important components of my job as a group fitness/yoga instructor is to know what is going on with class participant’s bodies. Having that information helps me with cueing and allows me to show modifications where needed. Within the last several weeks I’ve heard this statement more times than I would like to count, “I’ve got a bad (insert body part here).” To be honest, we don’t have “bad” body parts. However what can be bad and quite unhealthy is the self-dialogue we use to describe our body.
Suppose a loved one came to you and said, “Gosh, I’m going through a rough time.” How would you respond? Hopefully, if you really cared for that person, you would engage them in a meaningful conversation to find out how you might be of some help. The last thing you would say to them would be, “That’s right, you’re going through this because you’re bad.” I’m not a psychic, but I do believe the conversation would come to a screeching halt. So why is it that when our bodies are going through some challenges we label them “bad”? Shouldn’t we show our bodies just as much love and respect as we would our friend going through a difficult time?
Creating an affirming language allows more healing to take place and self-acceptance to begin. These “hot spots” or “sweet spots” in our bodies are challenges that can be overcome with patience and respect. Let’s look at “sensitive” body parts as places to honor and see all bodily “issues,” “tweaks,” and “crankiness” as little conflicts that can be dealt with if we are willing to invest the time. We need to accept the fact that not one of us is put together in the same way. Let’s celebrate that uniqueness, instead of comparing ourselves with others and feeling negative about what our bodies cannot do. Take a moment and congratulate yourself on what you can do!
Creating a Better-Affirming-Dialogue or “B.A.D.” attitude won’t always be easy. In fact, changing our negative thought processes to positive ones may be difficult at times, especially when we face some of life’s challenges. Deb Shapiro in her book “Your Body Speaks Your Mind” has this to say, “…affirmations may feel very superficial at first, as if you are just repeating platitudes in order to keep reality at bay…Remember, your body does hear you, so trust that it will work. It just may take time.” She goes on to write, “The body hears and responds to your thoughts and words. Developing a loving relationship with yourself that supports an acceptance of life, no matter what happens, encourages greater resilience.”
So how can we create a B.A.D. attitude? How might we change those negative words, thoughts and feelings into more loving ones?. We can begin by bringing more awareness into how our bodies are feeling and tuning into our inner dialogue. For example, let’s say you feel you have a “bad” back. What really may be going on in your back is “weakness” or “tightness” and your back needs to be strengthened or stretched to become healthier. Maybe your back feels “stiff” from lack of movement, especially if we are a “professional sitter,” so getting off the couch or chair and moving more may be what is needed. These descriptions are more affirming because they open the door to the healing process, giving us a starting place to work from. Constantly labeling our body as “bad” closes the door on that process.
The more we can tune in and practice a Better-Affirming-Dialogue about ourselves, the more we may see that positive way of thinking spilling out into other areas of our life. By letting that overflow to happen, we create a contagious B.A.D. attitude that will affect all those we have contact with, generating a healthier and more loving atmosphere.