Accepting Your Body After An Injury
- We are imperfect. Each one of us has flaws that make us who we are as individuals in this vast world. Be it birth marks, having a little extra weight, not having enough weight or anywhere in between our bodies are truly remarkable. We can choose to continuously be angry about the situation we are in or we can accept our bodies. The latter will make you feel good and give a sense of self security. Regardless of how anyone else looks, the body that you have is a gift and should be treated as such. So how do we go about accepting our bodies for what they are?
I don’t know about you, but I have never had the perfect flat stomach, the abs of steel or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps but just an overall normal body that fluctuates in weight occasionally. There have been so many instances where bodies can be a focal point like people watching, sports events, fashion shows and every day on the streets in general. We deal with people each day and there are different shapes and sizes. Some shapes might be pivotal point of harassment and others might be the pinnacle of encouragement. What we mean by this is that at times bodies can be made fun of or admired just due to appearance alone.
Appearance is what people first perceive as a first impression. When we look at someone for the first time what do we see? Do we see what looks like an unsuccessful person on the street who looks raggedy or do we see a businessman in a suit who looks professionally dressed, well quaffed and completely in control? What if we told you the man on the street in the raggedy clothes was actually the millionaire and the man in the suit was the struggling salesman trying to make ends meet. The point is that what we perceive as appearance can take on a completely different meaning but that first look at a person can be a deceiving one.
In high school I was bullied based on my appearance. I was a tall individual but had some excess weight on me. There would be times I would be picked on because of the weight and that was a hurtful experience. I did not want to be in that position but at that current point there was nothing I could do. Loosing weight is not easy and although I would have loved to lose the weight it just didn’t come as easy for me as others. When I went through an injury my junior year of high school that began to change. As physical therapy sessions and proper eating techniques were implemented the weight did begin to come off. But it took a lot of mental strength to accept my body for what it was and during this time I was able to do just that.
Sitting in the weighting room and looking at all the different people who were either sick or injured I realized one thing, everyone’s situation is different:
“I got injured dancing”
“I got hit by a pitch”
“I broke my leg playing hockey”
“I busted my knee during football practice”
“I have cancer”
Everyone had a different story and everyone’s appearance was different. It made me realize that appearance is not everything. Let’s take the late great Sir Stephen Hawking for example. His Lou Gehrig’s disease crippled his body. If you looked at that person and never had a clue of who he was would you think he is one of the greatest physicists in the world? Sometimes the impossible has a strange way of becoming the possible. Just because you must be on crutches, in a wheelchair, on a knee walker doesn’t mean your appearance should matter. You have all the potential in the world to do something amazing.
When we think of appearance does it really matter? Sure, I would love to look like George Clooney, but I just don’t. You might want to lose weight and that’s perfectly fine so say we all but if that is not currently possible then having self-acceptance is important. We think about all the billions of people in the world and each person has a different posture, figure, look, and style to them. Could what we perceive as appearance come from what we view on social media and trends in the world? Absolutely and this can actually be a reason why people are so worried about their appearance.
Influence of Media on Body Image
The influence of media on our body image is at an all time high. Reality shows and celebrities who look like gods and goddesses are simply not how the world truly is. People with even the smallest flaws can often times become obsessed with perfecting themselves which can lead to eating disorders, depression and other disorders that can vastly effect life. How does one get rid of all the thoughts on having to be perfect?
How is building a positive image possible?
Getting off social media is sometimes a difficult thing to do but a must. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone on social media and seen the perfect people with the perfect life. At this current point in life you just are who you are. Maybe you have the perfect dream home and family and if so great for you we applaud that! But for others don’t judge yourself on what you don’t have be appreciative for what you do have right now. Are you happy that you have all four limbs and a working body? I know I am! Focusing on yourself and immediate friends and family can really help on a positive mindset. Instead of judging yourself on if your prettier than that person or have more money than him just step back and count your blessings because positive thinking has so many benefits.
When we think negatively it leads to upsetting thoughts. There are times when I would have given anything to look like a celebrity, but the fact is that they are paid to look good all the time. The working class works 40 hours a week and many people work much more than that. When you get home from work you might have kids to deal with, dinner to make and by the time the day is said and done you are exhausted.
There’s not always free time to go to the gym but there is motivation to get you there. Listening to motivational videos and reading motivational books can be highly beneficial. Just because you don’t think you can’t get there doesn’t mean you won’t.
If you think negatively sure it’s easy to do but do you think that person who has cancer is thinking negatively? Do you think just because they’ve been beaten by radiation, sick for months and their body ravaged by the illness that they think negatively? No, they think every day that they can beat the sickness. I had the chance to see this firsthand after my surgery. While in the Children’s hospital I saw a bunch of children playing with each other heads shaved and all. I looked at that and I said my situation could be worse. At least I’m not them. But then it dawned on me that some of these kids might not make it out of the hospital. I was looking at them and realizing they are in the ultimate fight for their lives. Right there my motivation changed. I said you know what when I get better and when I am healed, I’m going to live life for one of them.
I don't have cancer, but I know they do. I am appreciative of my life because of its precious gift. If you would have had the chance to see that it’s a highly emotional experience. Perhaps your going through a tough time with money or life isn’t exactly working out how it seems. Pick yourself up and stay motivated. That motivation allowed me to go a little further in my exercise’s week after week. It helped me bend the joint a little further, walk a little longer. If you say to yourself “I will do this exercise” “I will only eat this amount of food” “I will recover fully” The mind has an amazing way of willing you to do the things you set out to accomplish.
One of my favorite examples of positive thinking is of a caterpillar. This particular creature spends most of its life on the ground. In a lot of ways, it’s like humans going through every normal day. The caterpillar can see other’s soaring through the sky, but he doesn’t know that one day he will become a butterfly. Then one day metamorphosis takes place and the seemingly impossible becomes possible. In a lot of ways humans might not know what the next day holds. You might lose a pound one day, but you might lose 2 the next day. We might not know what our bodies will look like in a year but just like the butterfly if you think positively you will soar.
Enjoying Your Body
Treating our bodies well is important but the best advice might be to enjoy your body regardless of its shape or size. Enjoy the ability to walk up-stairs. If you see stairs take them. There are others that will never be able to walk upstairs. Perhaps they are paralyzed or in a wheelchair the rest of their life. I use that motivation and I take the stairs because I can. I walk the stairs for those who can’t because it’s a positive thought and you can do it. When you are exercising think about each part of the body that’s working. Regardless of reaching a target weight think about having the ability to use all your extremities. I walk and workout for the people who can’t. Sure, I might not reach my goals all the time, but I can think positively and have a sense of security.
Everyday we hear about people who don’t like or appreciate their bodies. When you learn how to positively enjoy your own body these conversations will no longer have any meaning. Finding techniques of building this mindset can prove most challenging. But here are some tips to assist with this.
- Think of others who are physically unable to do what you can
- Accept that I am who I am
- Focus on what you are good at
- Compliment yourself and others each day
When you have this outlook on life it truly changes you as a person. I looked at that boy in the children’s hospital who was born with a debilitating disease and will never get to use his legs, but I get to use mine. That’s a truly moving experience and it’s the reason it can motivate a person to be the best they can be every day. I never felt that way before, but I do now because of this experience. If ever given the chance to see something like that you will take the initiative to be a better person because of it. This leads us to our last reason to accept your body which is why you should respect others.
Above all else think of what others might be going through. You can think positively about yourself but think about others who might be going through difficult situations. The stories that they have are likely completely different than yours but respect them. Just because their bodies might be under weight or overweight appreciate them for who they are. Life is a beautiful thing I used to sit with a group of people who used to like to people watch. One time they picked on a person that was walking funny. It brought me back to the time that I was picked on in grade school because of my weight. It made me think that these people just don’t understand. People who picked on me didn’t understand my situation.
Its important to learn respect for others. They didn’t realize that this person had MS. When they found out they were horrified that they did this, but it teaches a valuable lesson to treat people how you would want to be treated. Above all else accepting your body for what it is will give you an incredible peace of mind. I accept the permanent scars on my body because they tell a story of a difficult part of my life. We can go through life and hide scars or show them off with dignity. If someone chooses to make fun of the scars, then so be it but I accept my body. I don’t let anyone dictate who I am as a person and nor should you. Overall having some positive thinking and accepting your body will lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle.