Let’s do a brain experiment together. Let’s say you hate tarantulas, but your best friend loves them. She asks you to watch hers for her while she’s away on a 6-week trip to Europe. You, of course, say “yes,” but each time you have to feed it or interact with it, feelings of disgust and fear fill your body. It’s safe to assume that you would be counting the days until your friend returned and that you would give her a resounding “NO” next time she asked you to tarantula-sit. But let’s say that instead of a tarantula, she asked you to take care of her well-trained and beautiful puppy. Dog-lover that you are, you eagerly await the arrival of the cutest puppy in the world and have a wonderful 6 weeks bonding with the puppy.
You don’t realize is that in each scenario your brain is sending out electrical impulses that set off chemical reactions throughout your body. Negative and hateful thoughts trigger one set of body reactions, while positive and happy thoughts trigger another set. Your negative tarantula-hating thoughts most likely translated to less tarantula playtime, while your positive puppy-loving thoughts meant an abundance of puppy playtime!
That’s because our brains work to propel us away from the things we dislike and toward the things we do. The same thing happens when you are constantly sending yourself hate-filled messages about your body. Over time, your brain learns to propel you away from taking care of yourself.
Our brain processes hate-filled, self-loathing and shame-filled messages as stress, inducing the fight or flight mode within our bodies. This in turn produces cortisol and can lower oxygen levels, which is not good for our health. Sure, in the short-run, the fight or flight mode protects us. But over long periods of time these chemicals can cause a lot of damage. It literally is bad for your health to hate your body!
You can cultivate compassionate, loving and positive thoughts about your body just as you once cultivated negative thoughts. Loving and positive thoughts trigger the brain to produce positive chemical reactions in our body. We release endorphins and can increase our serotonin and dopamine levels. It is powerful and affirming to know that we can change the way we feel with our thoughts.
So what’s it going to be? Are you going to treat your body like a tarantula or a puppy? I’m choosing puppy! I love that embracing your own beauty and loving your body is “health enhancing!”
Share what you love about your body in the comments.
I’ll start. I love my ears because they look just like my grandma’s. And I love my arms because they’ve soothed many a crying child.