Body Image Isn't About The Body Afterall

Along the way, we’ve lost the importance of noticing how emotions are translated into the body

We manifest our anxieties and fears into physical dissatisfaction. To otherwise experience our emotions without the concrete view of our body we wouldn’t know where to look. It’s a strange thing to observe an emotion when it has no view point, such as an arm, leg or nose. The oddness of describing an emotion is most obvious when we sit and try to observe it. Most often we fill the spaces with ideas and theories for ‘why’ we feel something rather than just noticing it.  The question “how are you feeling?” has been lost in its simplest and truest form. I believe the original question means ‘WHAT do you feel’  because an emotion is truly a feeling in the body in the most literal sense. It’s a tingle, squeeze, pain, tightness, soreness, heaviness, fuzziness, pulsing, itch, twitch, cramp, dizziness and the list goes on. Although this idea is not new, for most people they can sit for 30 seconds and notice some of these sensations; maybe with more difficulty, some can associate emotions with a subtle physical twinge.  Along the way, we’ve lost the importance of noticing how emotions are translated into the body’s nerve system, hormones, and neurons. Whether we realize it or not, our body is an emotional carrier. It’s not a far stretch of the imagination to then realize that our young minds begin to project ideas and theories onto the body, skipping the connection between the two.

We are not trained to become curious about emotions and physical sensations, we are trained to reason and logic our problems away. Albeit an important skill to have, it encroaches on our ability to sit and experience emotions. The more confusing we feel, the harder we try to find a solution. Otherwise, discomfort sets in and for many reasons we as humans do NOT like discomfort. I believe satisfaction with our bodies is a result of people theorizing and rationalizing their emotional pain onto the concrete being, that is our body. For example, if we are raised to believe that only a certain body type is loveable, we will fear being unloved. Fear is the emotion, shallow breath is the sensation. What are we supposed to do with that vague, odd and unclear tightness in our chest and chill in our hands…that thing we might know as fear. For the enlightened monks sitting on the top of a mountain, they maybe unattached and let it float away with the wind. For the rest of us, we translate that fear into logic and say “if I change my hips, I will not be afraid. I will be worthy and belong.”  It’s a disservice to ourselves to skip over the emotional connection to our body because that is where we truly correct our fears.

We soon realize that although our intentions are pure and we aim to feel better, we inevitably further our fear because we cannot correct our fear through physical changes, we correct our fear by sitting with it calmly and leaning into it’s message. Within the message of fear is a whisper asking you to be just a little bit stronger than you were the moment before. 

-Audrey Grunst, LCSW owner and therapist at Simply Bee

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