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Friday, 24 June 2011

Body Image: How Do You Feel About Your Body?

I consider that my body shape is....?
When I think about my body I feel....?

The most real thing about us from the beginning is our embodiness - we sense our body even before we are born and have a natural knowledge of what is going on inside and outside of us. After we are born, we know if we are falling or comfortable, fed or empty. Something in our guts grips us when we are afraid and we put things in from outside which give us alternatively a sense of wonder or disgust. As we grow and mature, all of our experiences of bliss and dejection are felt - not in our head - but in the way the body works. Bliss is interpreted when our heart turns over warmth cascades up from our centre, and our pulses race, dejection will be felt as a pain in the heart, the hunch of your shoulders or a gripping in the throat.

Freud said that our first ego state is a body one; thus it is in the body that we first have our sense of self and how it is different from not-self.

Because we are embodied beings, we all develop opinions about our bodies which are both ABSOLUTE in terms of experiences like pain and comfort; and RELATIVE in terms of how we look. We may think of ourselves as tall or small, old or young, ugly or beautiful. But, in relation to what? Small in relation to what? beautiful in relation to what? How we behave, dress and relate to others has much to do with our body opinions and what those opinions mean to us. If we feel ugly, and if it is matters, we may hide away from other people, stay at home rather than go to a party and take holidays in an igloo. If we feel attractive we will dance on the table and walk tall in our clothes.

The natural sense of our body is basic to our survival. Pain alerts us to the fact that something is wrong. The adrenaline rush when you see a tiger enables you to freeze so that it won't see you or alternatively propels you to run away.

But, sometimes, our natural experience of the body goes wrong. If anyone reading this has broken even their finger for a while,  you become your finger, it seems to be bigger and more troublesome than it is. So our sense of the body is more than just feedback about what is going on in it. Our body sense becomes a big part of our sense of self. Sometimes, nothing is wrong with the body at all, but it comes to feel wrong and our natural wisdom goes astray. We are separated from our natural sense of self. It is in this type of ground that eating disorders can set in.

to be continued......

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