By Sam Child
Whilst this trend is perhaps not surprising in a society within which weight and moral virtue have become inextricably intertwined, increased pressure to conform to an "ideal" body shape or size has been linked with body anxiety, and an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. For those who already struggle with disordered eating or negative body image, the new year’s onslaught of shame-based, weight-centric resolutions can be particularly hard to endure.
"Your playing small does not serve the world… We are all meant to shine, as children do… and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same." ~ Marianne Williamson
Share Your Light
This January, as you navigate the inevitable bombardment of weight-loss ads and diet-focused conversations, I invite you to remain mindful of that which nourishes both your body and your inner light. Set an intention to shine brightly and consider, how will you share your light with the world in 2016?
For some, this question may invoke thoughts of grand gestures and large scale service projects. On the contrary, service opportunities span a broad spectrum. There are many ways in which we can share our light with the world: volunteering with a local non-profit organization, phoning a friend who has been feeling down, or simply being more mindful of how our words affect others.
Light the way for others
"Let your light shine bright so that others can see their way out of the dark." ~ Timber Hawkeye
In a world dulled by food and body image challenges, life can seem bleak and hopeless. When we allow our inner light to shine, we illuminate the way for those who are lost in the midst of this darkness. When we share our stories of overcoming adversity, we offer a beacon of hope to those who may have none.
"your authentic power is all you need to truly share your light with the world." ~ Gabrielle Bernstein
Everybody has a unique set of gifts to offer the world, but in the midst of food and body image challenges, it can be impossible to recognize them. Instead, we might believe that we have little or nothing of value to offer; we may feel as though we are a burden to others.
Identify your unique strengths and talents
To be of service, we must connect with our authenticity; we must ask ourselves, what are my unique strengths and talents? In this way, service opportunities offer us self-knowledge, as well as the opportunity to see our value reflected in the eyes of those whom we serve.
Isolation is commonly both a cause and an effect of the mental distress associated with food and body image struggles. Connecting with community is therefore essential to healing.
Discover a sense of belonging
Derived from the Latin cum, meaning together, among each other, and munus, meaning gift, "community" literally translates as "to give among each other." When we gift our presence to others, we not only offer them our support and an opportunity to be seen and heard, but we are offered a sense of belonging in return.
Commit to Self-Care
"I must first soak in the love and light that I wish to pour over others. It must find itself within me before I can cast it out and spread it around." ~ Mara Koch on Rebelle Society
To engage effectively in service requires that we commit to taking care of ourselves; we must keep our own light burning brightly, so that we have the energy to serve others. In this way, service holds us accountable to maintaining our own physical and mental well-being.
Follow Your Soul's Call
"Losing weight is not your life's work, and counting calories is not the call of your soul. You surely are destined for something much greater, much bigger, than shedding 20 pounds or tallying calories." ~ Lisa Turner
When our lives are dominated by disordered eating and negative body image, it is easy to lose touch with the things which matter most to us. However, as Lisa Turner reminds us, our life’s work extends far beyond the confines of counting calories or losing weight.
Connect with the things you value most
Service gives us the opportunity to establish and maintain a connection with the things which we value most, thereby offering us a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
"Let your light shine. Be a source of strength and courage. Share your wisdom. Radiate love" ~ Wilferd Peterson
And so I ask again, how will you share your light with others in the coming year?
About Sam Child
Sam Child is the Director of Communications for Eat Breathe Thrive. A strong advocate for the therapeutic role of yoga in overcoming food and body image issues, Sam has been involved with Eat Breathe Thrive since the crowd-funding campaign which kickstarted the organization. Among the EBT team members, Sam is renowned for her organizational skills, her attention to detail, and a firm yet compassionate style of communication. As well as her various roles within Eat Breathe Thrive, Sam is a volunteer at a local playgroup for children with special needs, a student yoga teacher, and a proud "mummy" to three kitties.
This post was written by the named author as part of #CelebrateYourLight - an initiative to reframe the holidays as a season of hope, and a time to recognize, nourish, and share the inextinguishable innate light that resides within each of us.