Healing Your Body Image is a Journey

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Like many people, I love closure. I love achieving goals. I love ticking things off my to-do list and putting things to bed. Open-ended projects make me itchy and anxious. I want things tidy and complete, not endlessly in revision.

But my house will always be at least slightly in flux because it’s old and needs occasional repairs. Plus my tastes and needs change, furniture wears out or falls apart, floors get worn and paint peels. My wardrobe will never be “done” because my body is constantly in flux and so is my style. I’ll probably never visit every single place on my dream vacation list because I’m not made of money and don’t have access to endless free time.

And, of course, my relationship with my body will never be completely perfect, or totally healed, or utterly ideal. Because – like you – I’m a human being. My moods and needs and relationships and personas and philosophies change over time, and those things impact how I feel about myself. My body shifts shape, changes its size and texture, builds muscles or reveals injuries, pretty much never sits still or stays the same. So it makes sense that my feelings about it would never sit still or stay the same either, no matter how much work I do or how far I feel I’ve come.

And that can be frustrating.

I’d like to be done. I’d like to say, “I’ve put in more than a decade of thinking, exploration, discussion, and behavior-changing, and now I love my whole self all day every day.” But – at least for me – that’s simply not possible. Healing my body image is a journey without any specific or defined destination. That means sometimes progress is slow and sometimes it accelerates, but there’s no end date or deadline. I may take what seem like detours, but they’re really integral offshoots of the main path. I meet people as I go, some of whom impact this part of my personal growth in positive or negative ways. I learn, I have setbacks, I get lost, I find my way back.

I still wish I could take a course and get a grade, or read a book and feel 100% healed once I close its covers. But I can’t. I’m not wired that way. And I imagine some of you feel similarly. So this is a reminder to us all that our body image journeys are just that – journeys. And even though they may never end, we learn a little every day and grow a little every time we take another step forward.

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5 Responses to “Healing Your Body Image is a Journey”

  1. DJK

    Thanks for this, Sally. For myself, I would take out the word “image,” and your post is a very helpful perspective for me to practice. My first time posting, but I’ve been a fan for about 10 years. Your blog has been helpful to me in many ways, and I’ve been inspired by your own path.

    • Sally McGraw

      DJK, I’m so glad to hear this. And thank you for sticking with me for so long – pretty much the entire life of the blog!

  2. Anna Bartels

    I just wanted to say thanks so much for this! This is something that I have grappled with over the last 5 or so years. I’ve had a lot of things that have changed my body, several athletic injuries, weight gain, weight loss…it’s a tough a road. And as hard as I try to always love it, no matter where it is at a given point in time, sometimes the challenges are so hard. I am so glad that I am not alone. Because along with the rough spots, there have been times when I have felt my body was awesome! Thank you for the wide variety of perspectives and diversity on this blog that has led me to feel good in my own skin!

  3. Amita Basu

    This echoes my experience precisely. I love to finish things and move on to new things. But when the things are life problems, I have been facing the same few problems repeatedly. The expectation of finishing with problems once and for all can be frustrating. So I have in the last few months been trying to adopt the perspective you describe.

  4. Ivy Felicia

    This article immediately caught my attention, because I often say “The road to body peace and body acceptance is a journey not a destination.” It is indeed important to remain compassionate and patient with ourselves on this journey. Thank you for your candor and authenticity Sally! I enjoyed this and even shared it with my body positive Facebook community.