Blessing and Being Grateful for Your Pain (And My Belly)
I know that the idea of being grateful and even blessing the things that cause us pain seems crazy to most but is it really? These parts of us that are suffering, whether it is a tumor, knee pain, your back, anything really needs to be loved more than anything else. It is obviously suffering and to continue to beat it up, punish it, be ashamed of it, whatever, only contributes to the experience of pain. In fact, being an emotional bully to these parts, and subsequently yourself, can greatly increase the pain and make the experience significantly worse.
Think about it this way, a friend is hurting and they come to you for care but instead you beat them up, call them names, insult them, tell them they are useless and unlovable, shame them, and threaten to drug them and cut them out. How do you, or even would you, react if this was done to you by another person? And yet, we do this to ourselves all the time. Very often, I witness the most kind of my clients be incredible bullies to the parts of themselves that are struggling and suffering in pain. So much so that if they did this same behavior to another person, they would have a restraining order against them. Somehow, they have learned that is it okay to abuse themselves and these parts of themselves.
Right now, let us put a stop to this behavior!
Tune into that part of you that may be in pain and suffering. Close your eyes and do your best to simply be present with the experience, whatever the feeling might be. Do your best to avoid your old way of interacting with that part of you and just sit with it. Treat it like that friend who has come to you to share their hurt and feel your care, love, and attention. Give them some metaphorical chicken soup. Sit them down at your dining room table, and let them (it) know that you see and hear them.
As I get older, there are parts of my body that I caught myself being rude and mean to. I was angry at that little belly that started to form around my midsection even though I was exercising and eating right. I was frustrated with it and wanted to starve it, have the fat sucked out, and I was embarrassed by it, not wanting to take my shirt off to jump in the pool and hiding in the locker room changing when no one was around. I was so afraid of being judged because of the softness around my belly. I had to be reminded that the way I was behaving and how I was speaking to myself was not acceptable! Yes, I too can fall into old habits and societal conditioning about what is healthy, attractive, and acceptable. I discovered that I was “gay fat”. This is a term that means I could not see my six pack because anything that hides a six-pack must be fat. A “normal”, non-gay person, wouldn’t necessarily even consider or see what I saw as fat. Funny enough, I was even told that my belly was “hot” which was truly confusing. My judgment did not leave room for anyone to find me attractive when I thought I was absolutely and unequivocally unattractive.
To switch and change this thinking, I practiced putting my hands on my little belly and saying, “I am so sorry I have been beating you up! I am so sorry that I have been abusing you.” I found room in my mind to even be grateful for my belly saying to it, “Thanks for being strong, Thanks for working so well for me all these years.” I was also able to find the words in my heart and say to my belly, “Someone finds you sexy and I can allow them to like you. I can stop being cruel to you and even feel good in my body, with my cute, little belly, right now”. I had to practice something that I share with my clients all the time by saying, “I love myself so much. I am so grateful for my belly and my body. I accept it exactly as it is and allow myself to feel freedom as I am, how I am, in this moment right now.”
This loving practice changed how I behave. I have started to stop worrying about how people think of me and to be kind in how I think of myself. Increasing compassion for myself has allowed me to be more active and exercise more and become more comfortable and stronger in my body. The belly is still there but I feel better in my skin and I even gave myself permission to go to a pool party this past holiday weekend AND to jump into the pool without a shirt on. I had greater confidence in me and not one person made fun of me or pointed out my belly. Even if they had, my belly and I are so good and loving with each other that I do not think it would have mattered.
So, I bless my belly for how it is teaching me to love more deeply. I am grateful for my belly and how it is calling me into acceptance. The pain what was low self-esteem and abusive internal shaming is dissipating and I am feeling freer to be me.
This process of calling out the internalized abuse, learning to love the part of us that has been shamed and in pain, and even going further into gratitude for what it is and how it is calling us into a deeper more compassionate life can apply to any pain; physical, mental, spiritual (heart) based pain. Give it a try and see what happens. You can always go back to the abuse if you want to so you truly have nothing to lose.