A better relationship with your body through storytelling
How do you feel about your body? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin? Or the complete opposite of that?
Maybe you have experienced or are experiencing something interesting… maybe downright challenging, with your body. It might feel like a journey or an adventure.
Or it might feel like a full-on, Braveheart style battle.
Wherever you’re at, storytelling can help.
Personal storytelling is about putting words to your inner experiences -- what you think, what you feel, where you've been and where you're going.
It's also about sharing those words with others, for greater connection and a more authentic life. A good story can bring people together and promote learning, understanding and mutual growth.
In that sense, it can play an important role in our relationships with others. But what about our relationships with ourselves -- more specifically, our bodies?
Storytelling can help with that, too.
Here are some ways you can use storytelling to have a happier, more wholehearted relationship with your body.
1. Let go of old stories
We hear a lot of stories about our bodies -- mainly that they're not good enough. Over time, we absorb these stories and accept them as our truth.
Storytelling can give you the capacity to shed these old stories and write something new. Something that is much more true to you.
Here's a little writing practice you can use to start letting go of old stories:
Take out a journal or a notebook. Write about something you used to believe about yourself and/or your body that you now think (or suspect) is false. Include what you believe, deep down, is the truth.
Write as much or as little as you like. Then ask yourself these questions:
• Where did that original belief come from?
• Why is it still sticking around? Does it serve a purpose?
• Why are you questioning or doubting that belief?
• Is that belief holding you back? What are some of the ways it might be doing that?
• How would it make you feel to shed that old belief?
Once you start to see that this is an old story – just a story, not truth – you can start to re-write it. It becomes creative material; something to work with. Not something carved in stone.
2. Release your shame
Unfortunately, a lot of the stories we’re told about our bodies are negative. We internalize these messages as “there’s something wrong with me,” “I’m not good enough,” “I’m bad.”
I’ve felt this shame myself. Most notably, about my heart.
When we lock this shame inside of us, it takes up a lot of space. It feels heavy. It’s like carrying around a heavy locked trunk with you…all the damn time.
Storytelling can do wonders to release this.
If this idea is a bit scary – for example, you’re not ready to disclose the source of that shame – don’t worry, you don’t have to.
If you start to take ownership over your story on the inside, you’ll still get lots of benefits. And you’ll move yourself one step closer to sharing your truth and letting go of secrets, when you’re ready.
Journaling is a great place to start. Give yourself permission to take the time to write about your feelings, your experiences, and yes – your secrets.
Remember: no one is going to read what you write. (If you’re worried about that, keep the journal somewhere safe.)
Keep your own internal judge at bay: for now, don’t read what you write – or if you do, be sure to take your critic hat off first, and just observe.
Storytelling doesn’t have to be about telling a “good” story. It can simply be about telling the truth.
Truth has incredible power over shame. It has a neutralizing effect.
So for now, don’t judge. Just write.
3. Hear what your body has to say.
You probably tell your body a lot of stuff: how it should feel, how it should behave, how it should look, how healthy and functional it should be, and so on.
Instead of repeating those old scripts, try this simple storytelling exercise.
Take out your journal or notebook and write about the following questions:
• What has your body taught you?
• What do you want to say to your body?
• Does your body have a story to tell? How might that story go?
If you like, you can ‘level up’ this exercise by picking a specific part of your body – a scar, a tattoo, or your hands or your feet for example – and writing about it.
What story would that part of your body have to share?
These kinds of activities can help you break free of old scripts and start engaging more creatively and thoughtfully with your body.
Remember: d your best to write from a place of curiosity and compassion rather than a place of judgment.
4. You’re doing something awesome – share it.
Whatever you’re going through with your body, something amazing is happening.
The very fact that you’re reading this means you’re going through something – you’re experiencing some kind of change, or growth or transformation.
And that’s where the best stories lie.
The best work of our lives is often the internal work. It’s the way we come to find peace and harmony within ourselves. It’s the way we find out who we are, and the little hidden corners of ourselves.
It’s the way we find out what we’re capable of. Our sense of purpose in the world.
Oftentimes, our body is a central player in this change.
• getting older
• fighting a chronic or serious illness
• an injury or an ability change; losing sight or losing a limb for example, or gaining a prosthetic or medical device
• experiencing a gender transition
• weight gain or loss
• having a baby
• exploring sexuality or queerness
• or just being alive and all the stuff that comes with living in a body as a human being!
Whatever you’re going through, I bet you’re doing something amazing.
And most of the time, you won’t be given a medal for it.
You won’t get a ‘bonus’ or a promotion for it; you won’t get to put it on a resume.
And without the external promise of validation, you might be inclined to keep it inside.
But I’d like to encourage you to share it.
Put it into words. Tell your story.
Tell us what you’ve been through. What you’ve accomplished. And how it feels.
I encourage you to do this because when you do – when you can own that story, when you can articulate it, when you have the guts to share it with others – well, there’s nothing like it.
Because that’s when you can really, truly, boldly, beautifully be yourself.
And that’s not all.
I encourage you to tell your story because other people need it.
Don’t assume your story isn’t enough. Don’t assume it needs to be any better or different to help someone else.
Your story has the power to inspire and help others. Right now.
So don’t hide it.
Start writing. And start sharing the story you – and your body – have to tell.