Stages of Body Acceptance
Stage I: Letting Go:
RELEASING THE ILLUSIONS, MYTHS, MISCONCEPTIONS AROUND WOMAN’S BODIES AND PARTICULARLY ONE’S OWN. Letting go of the hopes and wishes of the ideal body and the symbolic perfection that it represents. Grieving the loss of the hoped for ideal and begin with simply what is in the here and now, rather than the past and future dreams. This is a process of grieving for the loss of the idealized body as a means of acquiring inner happiness.
Stage II: Acknowledgment
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF ONE’S OWN GENETIC MAKEUP. This stage encourages an individual to own their particular genetic endowment – for better or worse – this is the machine that each of us was given to ride out in this lifetime. The acknowledgment does not necessarily imply acceptance. It is a list making and a breaking down the body that need to be integrated into the whole. Also in this stage is acknowledgment of the rhythm of ones own particular body – heart rate, movement rhythm, internal clock, metabolic rate, etc.
Stage III: Setting Limits
BOUNDARY DEFINITION – ESTABLISHING A CONCEPT OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL BOUNDARIES. Internal boundaries include the ability to say no, assertiveness skills and establishing the limits of energy expenditure as well as developing more effective ways to expend physical energy. OUTER boundaries are the physical boundaries, the space the body occupies. This is an objective criteria, yet can be experienced as an emotional issue. Getting a mental picture of the boundaries of the body facilitates the experience of self-cohesion.
STAGE IV: Empowerment
OWNING ONE’S OWN PHYSICAL POWER. Each body possesses a certain amount of strength. Even the most emaciated of bodies has an element of physical strength to keep the body alive. By imparting this information on a physical level, the information gradually becomes internalized as inner strength. This builds ego involvement with the body and an ownership of the positive qualities that one possesses – physical as well as mental, emotional, and spiritual.
STAGE V: Acceptance
FACILITATING ACCEPTANCE OF THE BODY THROUGH MOVEMENT, VISUALIZATION AND THE BREAKING DOWN OF THE NEGATIVE SELF STATEMENTS/DISTORTIONS THAT CREATE BODY DYSMOROPHIC DISORDER. This stage includes breaking through the resistance of what is at the moment. Changing, as if by magic, was addressed in an earlier stage, however, through movement the acceptance can be integrated. The cognitive work continues in the form of affirmations. Goals can be utilized here AFTER the acceptance of what is – the goal to reach a “fighting weight”, the healthy weight that allows for secondary sex characteristics and muscle to develop in the anorectic and allows for a normalization of weight within a broad range for the overweight.
STAGE VI: Self Respect
TREATING THE BODY WELL. Allowing oneself to treat the body well, remove the abuse to the body and apologize to the body for self-destructive behavior. This is the stage of honoring the body, the house of the spirit, and honoring the light within.
STAGE VII: Self Love
ENJOYMENT OF THE PHYSICAL SELF AS WELL AS THE MIND AND SPIRIT. In this last stage one sees from the inside out rather then the outside in. This is where the integration directs and guides the life force to be expressed. Self love and appreciation is a process that occurs over time. It is a true honoring of the self; body, mind and spirit as a unique individual without judgement.
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