Beyond Modification, Deprivation, & Control: 5 Resolutions Centering Self-Love & Spiritual Wellbeing
Happy New Year, everyone. We made it through an incredibly emotional, turbulent, and disruptive 2017 - congratulations to us all for surviving, thriving, and continuing on.
For many people, New Year's is the time to reflect back and look ahead - to set goals for oneself
that mirror who we want to become and the actions we plan to take. And, for many people in mainstream U.S. culture, these goals revolve around weight loss and body modification.
As someone healing from an eating disorder, this time of year and these types of resolutions can be triggering, because, for me, New Year’s was a time of intense shame and disappointment. I'd reflect on how terrible I was for "failing" at not losing all the weight I had resolved to lose the year before. Then, looking ahead, my resolutions revolved around unrealistic weight loss goals, harmful diet plans, and unsustainable workout regimes - all reflecting my internalized fatphobia and self-hate. New Year's marked the beginning of a cycle of deprivation, control, and punishment of my body in an effort to modify its natural form. This was a vicious cycle that continued for years on end.
As I began to heal in my early 20’s, I became anti-New Year’s resolutions. I would get internally offended and angry when people asked if I had any. I thought resolutions were stupid and toxic because the only context in which I understood them was in terms of resolving to change myself to fit into the norms of a fatphobic, Eurocentric, white supremacist, patriarchal culture.
I’ve taken a resolution hiatus for the past few years now and have had the time and space to evaluate what else, besides body modification and weight loss, New Year’s resolutions can encompass.
So here is a short list of resolutions that move beyond body modification, deprivation, and control, and into a framework that centers one’s mental, emotional, psychic, spiritual, and physical well being.
1. Resolve to practice one physical self-love activity each week.
I say physical because our bodies do deserve TLC, but there aren’t a lot of tender (and body positive) examples of how to physically interact with one’s own body. Oh, and this self-love activity - it doesn’t have to be the same activity every week. Maybe one week is setting aside the time to take a bubble bath, then the next week is grounding barefoot in the soil for 3 min while breathing deep, and the next week is romantic time with yourself to masturbate. It can be eating a delicious meal without guilt, shame, or embarrassment - just pure pleasure. It can really be anything you want it to be. The point is to listen to your body and tend to its needs as that of a self-love activity.
2. Resolve to say “No.”
Working full-time, balancing two creative projects, and reintegrating grad school has made me very protective of my time. I am grateful to have friends who are also incredibly busy in their own endeavors and understand that just because I can’t, doesn’t mean I don’t want to. Instead of initially saying “yes,” I am learning to say "no" to events and engagements I know I won’t be able to show up to. It’s less emotional work to just say no, than to say yes and feel guilty and stressed when I can’t show up.
3. Resolve to be in community with those who sustain, energize, and inspire you.
Like I said, I’ve been very protective of my time and energy - I don't have lots to spare - however, once a week, I am able and willing to carve out a few hours to make dances and be in community with some of my heart-friends. Spending time with sacred community helps me ground while uplifting, supporting, and inspiring me to continue on. My community brings me clarity and understanding when things get muddy in my head. Sacred communities of heart-friends are vital to sustainability. And hey, if you don’t feel like the people you’re surrounded by are your heart friends/sacred community, check out this next resolution.
4. Resolve to cultivate your sacred community.
This has taken me a while to do and the work is never done. There was a point in my life when the majority of the people I spent time with didn’t see who I was because, I didn’t feel safe to show them. They were people who underestimated, belittled, and questioned my passion and power. This in turn led me to underestimate, belittle, and question my own passion and power. These people are not heart-friends, they are not our sacred community. They are energy suckers and it’s okay to separate from them. I am constantly reflecting on the people I choose to spend my time with - if I don’t feel good when we’re together, it’s just not going to happen anymore. Each of us have the right and duty to protect our energy, time, and space.
5. Resolve to find and live in your power.
To quote the incredible Nayyirah Waheed:
knowing your power
is what creates
not knowing your power
is what creates
I just want to clarify that when I say power, I don’t mean power over others, but rather power within oneself that is the grounding anchor of all we do. We all have a power inside ourselves that is connected to the power within others. Everyone's power is unique to themself and tapping into this power unleashes wisdom, healing, and purpose. It can be scary to come face-to-face with one's power. It can be overwhelming. Many of us are told that we don’t possess this power - that this power lives outside of us - but I am here to tell you that there is nothing further from the truth. This power already exists deep inside who we already are. It is there. Let’s resolve, for this year and for the lifetime to come, that we will call on this power, learn to summon it, cultivate it, and let it be the source from which all else will grow. Find your power, live in your power, and share it with the world.
Be honest to yourself about what you want: out of life, to eat, to feel, to do in this world. Honor whatever it is, without judgment. Give yourself whatever it is you need. This is a process that takes time. It is the process of getting to know yourself, getting to know your body – without judgments or assumptions – learning to let all the parts of you be what they are.
Face them, hear them, know them, and find peace in letting them be.
Many of us work against ourselves – denying us pleasure, fulfillment, and fullness. This is no way to find peace. We are working for peace within our bodies and ourselves to reconnect us to our power center. We are learning how to listen to ourselves and honor our needs and desires.
Be kind, be gentle, be love, be open.
Enjoy your body.