Speak to Your Body as You Would to a Friend


One of those little nuggets of body image wisdom that floats around a lot is this: When you find yourself berating your body for its shortcomings, mentally scolding it for its faults, shaking your head in disappointment at your own physical form, ask yourself if you’d say those same things out loud to any other living being. Your best friend? Your mom? How about a colleague? Or even a total stranger? If you’re being harsher and more judgmental toward yourself than you would be toward other people, it might be time to reconsider how you conceptualize your body.

And it’s an imperfect idea, of course. Many people are naturally harder on themselves and more critical of themselves than they are of others, and this can be beneficial. It can tie into ambition, motivation, and the ability to feel awake and aware throughout our lives. Expecting the same levels of diplomacy and care to be used in your dealings with yourself as get used in dealings with your daughter or sister isn’t terribly reasonable, and might prove a bit counterproductive.

Then again, we’re not talking about EVERYTHING you think and ponder and level at yourself. We’re talking about how you conceptualize and address your body, which can be a slightly more toxic and slightly less productive situation for some. My self-talk about career and relationships can be a little nagging and tinged with disappointment, but most of that internal monologue centers on behaviors that I can control and change, so the negativity has a natural, controllable end. My self-talk about my body is more likely to include regret, frustrations that cause me to dwell in the past, and thought patterns that are cyclical in nature. It can also get cruel and comparative and feel incredibly difficult to stop. And I’m me and you’re you, so your self-talk about your body might not be as negative or harmful. But many of the women I’ve talked with and clients I’ve worked with have confessed to a pretty dark, angry internal monologue when it comes to body image.

So even if the idea seems flawed and even if it doesn’t work in every instance, consider how this tactic could work for you. Your body is the home of your soul, and it’s the only one you’ll ever have. Your relationship with your body is unique and complex, but hopefully you are working to make it constructive and positive. You and your body are trying to be friends. Friendships take work and time and energy. But one of the ways you could pave that path a bit would be to speak to your body as you would to a friend. Be constructive and insightful, but also kind and supportive. Be truthful and real, but also caring and forgiving. Befriend your body as best you can, and talk to it like the friend you want it to be.

Image courtesy Rodrigo David.

Originally posted 2014-03-27 06:08:15.

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3 Responses to “Speak to Your Body as You Would to a Friend”

  1. Kati LeTourneau

    This is beautiful. It reminds me of one of the best things I’ve heard- I was gathering with a bunch of friends from college (we are all in our late 30s now). One of us was talking about how frustrated she was with her body, and our other friend turned to her and said “Hey, that’s my girlfriend you are talking about!” It was so loving, and also funny, and really highlighted this point that when you are talking (internally or with friends) poorly about yourself, you are talking about a friend.

    • ballewal

      I’ve done the same thing with my mom. She was saying something disparaging to herself about her weight and I said “Mom, I wouldn’t let someone else talk to you like that. I won’t let you talk to you like that.”

  2. Lisa

    This is so true. The voice I use is one I might use with an old horse. “Come on buddy:)” That said, the posts Sue and I did today (we dressed each other) really provoked my inner voices. I just worked on having the happy ones speak louder.