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THE one relationship that really matters

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

The most important relationship you have, is the one with yourself. You are with yourself 24/7. If you are at peace with yourself, you are a joy to be with. Your body is part of you- make sure you get on well.

I was approached by a journalist a while ago that wanted my input on a discussion about people’s “relationship with their bodies” for a radio show. This is a phrase that one hears often. When I spent some time collecting my thoughts for the programme, I was struck by the insights captured in these words.

The word relationship refers to a connection or association between two or more parties. In order to have a “good” one, it is generally accepted that one needs:

  1. Mutual respect and acceptance of the other

  2. Trust

  3. Effective communication

Life experience has taught us how awful it is to be in relationship, when one of these elements is missing.

When there is no mutual respect, one or more party’s input gets completely ignored. Without trust, time and energy is spent on trying to control the other’s behaviour and one can become quite preoccupied with this impossible task. When there is no good communication,misunderstandings and frustration flourish.

Good relationships on the other hand, are a pleasure to be in. They are functional and relaxed and can bring joy and peace to the parties involved.

When we take these benchmarks for a good relationship and apply them to measure the quality of the relationship that people have with their bodies, it becomes obvious that it is often a very disappointing one. Like a poor human relationship is a total pain to be in, a poor relationship with the body is even worse, because you are with your body the whole day, every day!

We can get some insight into the circumstances that have led to this state of affairs, when we look at the common culprits that make good relationship impossible:

  1. “isms” like racism and sexism can be behind lack of respect and acceptance

  2. Rumours and libel can bring doubt and undermine trust

  3. Different languages can make clear communication impossible

Let’s explore these:

1. “Isms

Racism and sexism and other isms are when a particular quality, like the colour of the skin or gender secures the bearer thereof either respect and acceptance or disrespect and rejection. This happens when these qualities are associated with positive characteristics like intelligence, honesty or integrity, and the lack of it implies that these characteristics are not present.

In our culture, weight-ism and shape-ism is real. A certain size and shape is associated with success, popularity, health and value. When our body does not meet the culturally determined criteria for acceptance, and we allow the prevailing culture to dictate to us, our body can lose our respect and be rejected by its very own owner…and the relationship suffers.

2. Rumours and libel

The fear mongering, libellous messages that are dolled out in great quantities about the abilities of the body have caused many body owners to doubt the intelligence and competence of theirs. Products that promise to “restore balance” to gut bacteria imply that this balance is easily lost. Others that will “aid digestion” imply that the gut is not very good at its primary task, and could do with some chemical assistance. Other products claim that they can “block fat absorption” as if the body is chomping at the bit to absorb amounts that it doesn’t need, or that fat absorption is a bad thing in the first place. Our ability to absorb fat from food is vital for survival!

I cannot over-emphasise the damage that has been caused by this type of advertising and these labels on products.

Of course, it is true that some people have troubled bowels and that medical advances have helped a lot to understand and remedy their symptoms. I’m not suggesting that anybody should suffer with an irritable bowel or chronic heartburn and not take medication that can bring relief. The products that infuriate me are the ones aimed at the broad public- not just those with functional bowel disease, and it causes a loss of trust in the body…and the relationship suffers.

3. How the body speaks

Anybody who has ever tried to engage in a conversation with somebody that speaks a different language will have an idea of the frustration this can cause. When a translator steps in, it can be quite surprising to find that the person that was gesturing clumsily and speaking with the competence of a two year old, is actually capable of expressing complex ideas, has deep thoughts and can communicate them eloquently.

When the “isms” have done their polluting work, and rumour has it that there is nothing significant coming from a particular person (or body), we may not even bother to try and decipher what it is trying to say and miss out…and the relationship suffers.

When the body does communicate to our conscience, it does so by feelings. When we take the time to listen to the language of the body, we can respond and can give it what it is asking for, and in turn receive what it is giving us. It blesses us with unending loyal service. It detoxifies faithfully, it breaks food down into its smallest constituents- absorbs it and assimilates it to form our skin, hair, blood, bones and muscle, and gets rid of the waste. It manufactures energy. It protects us from harmful bacteria. It can make babies, feed babies, carry them, kiss them, smell them squeeze them and hear them laugh. It allows us to move and dance and take deep breaths and taste. It enables us to make music, and to hear music. It allows us to feel.

The only reasonable feeling to have toward the body is one of immense gratitude!

Sound Bite

“Most people can listen to their cat more intelligently than they can listen to their own body. Because they attend to their pet in a cherishing way, it returns their love. Their body, however, may have to let out an earth-shattering scream in order to be heard at all” Marion Woodman

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