This post also appears on The Huffington Post.
One day as I entered a bathroom stall at work, I was thinking about my body. “It’s tired. It’s old. It aches.” — were the thoughts that went through my head. Then I stopped myself, both mind and body, and thought, “Why don’t you call your body “she”?” After 50 years on this planet this thought arrived as a revelation. I’ve always called this body, “it” and, unfortunately, there have been times I’ve treated it with disdain. Like many others I have struggled with liking and loving myself, especially my body.
For me, I clearly identify my body as female and calling her “she” makes sense. I know for others that perspective is not as clear and the words may be different for them, but I invite all of us to at least address our body with an animate pronoun or a name.
These bodies are pretty amazing. Let’s start with a few examples.
- Your Body, She is a healing machine. Our bodies are constantly working toward a state of health and equilibrium.
- Your Body, She enables you to do so much. To see the beauty of a sunrise, to hear the sounds of uplifting music, to walk in the woods – to name just a few. She is an enabler, not a burden.
- Your Body, She provides you with awareness. Not just body awareness, but also emotional awareness. As we tune-in to our bodies they tell us the truth about how we’re feeling and provide us with instinctual awareness about situations and the people in our lives.
Why would you not call your body, “she”? Because she gets sick and dies? Because she gets fat or thin with no rhyme or reason? Because she is subject to scrutiny and criticism by others, especially doctors and our inner self-critic? But she is just having a human experience. She is a human body with all its wonderful aspects and all of its imperfection. If she were your friend, would you treat her the way you treat your very own body?
So, is calling your body, “she,” really helpful? I have found that when I’m talking about my body as a “she” my thoughts and actions are gentler. For instance, the other day my knee hurt – maybe from running too much or too fast or from stretching too little. My mind said, “Go running anyway, you’ll be fine.” But my body . . . she said, “Please rest. One day off and a little extra stretching would do me wonders.” So, because I respect her and her innate wisdom, I rested. I stretched. The next day I felt great and was ready to roll again. She showed me how appreciative she was and I ran with ease and comfort.
This body, she really is wonderful. She accompanies me on great adventures, is a guiding force in so many of life’s pleasures, she shares her wisdom (often so quietly that I have to stop and listen and just breathe and sometimes with such force I’m startled by the sudden clenching of my stomach or how my breath is taken away). She is a kind companion on this journey of life and I bow in honor to her – my first best friend.