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How feeling like a superhero helps my health 

Have you ever noticed the language people use about their bodies? 

"My body is a temple" 

"My body isn't a temple it's an amusement park" 

"My body is broken" 

"I'm like a machine!!" 

"I'm a pear shape" 

"I have a dad bod" 

"I'm just a big blob" 

 

I've been thinking a lot about the metaphors people have for their bodies. Why? 

Because the metaphors we have, or if you prefer, the way we represent things to ourselves, significantly impacts our experience of the world, our beliefs and our behaviours.  

 

The power of metaphor

The metaphors and language you use for your body have a huge impact on how you think feel and act. 

Think about someone who thinks of their body as a 'broken wreck'. 

  • How loving are they towards their body? 
  • What limitations do they place on themselves? 
  • What do they tell themselves when their bodies aren't how they want them to be? 
  • To what extent do they believe they can change? 
  • How likely are they to take care of their body? 
  • Are they more likely to aim to flourish or simply to patch themselves up? 
  • What decisions will they make? 
  • What does this mean for diet and exercise? 
Body is a wreck

Now, think about someone who thinks of their body as a 'work in progress' or a 'blank canvas'? 

your body is a blank cnvas

 

  • How loving are they towards their body? 
  • What limitations do they place on themselves? 
  • What do they tell themselves when their bodies aren't how they want them to be? 
  • To what extent do they believe they can change? 
  • How do they respond to making mistakes? 
  • What mindset will they have? 
  • What does this mean for diet and exercise? 

 

I am a superhero not a car!

I used to have a metaphor for my body that wasn't very helpful. I used to think of my body as a vessel or vehicle. It was a functional part of me that got me from A to B. I kept it ticking over and it did the job. I wasn't in love with it but it was alright. I used to say things like "It's OK" or "it does the job I guess". 

Think about the questions above. What impact do you think it had on me? How much care was I putting into my body? No wonder I put everything else first. My body was an afterthought. I'd nurture it if I got time (I never did). 

These days I have a different metaphor for my body. I feel like one of the characters in the TV programme Heroes. In the show, the characters discover they have super powers and they spend most of the series exploring the depths of those powers and what they are capable of.

Each time I thought I couldn't achieve something with how my body looks or performs I have proved myself wrong. I thought I'd never be the size I was in my 20s again, I told myself it was too late to be fit. Now I have a mindset of discovery and I ask myself "what else can do?" I'm sure I have limits, but I have no idea where they are so I no longer rule anything out.

Now I think my body is amazing. Not in a supermodel way but in terms of what it can do. I am grateful for it. I cherish it. I look after it. It looks after me. How do you think that impacts the decisions I make? 

Some people have a really unhelpful metaphor 

They think of their body as a yard stick. A measure of how successful they are. Perhaps in terms of how they look or perhaps as a measure of how 'disciplined' or 'good' they have been. Again think about how that might shape your view of your body. It doesn't achieve much does it? 

 

Choose your 'body language' wisely

Change your body metaphors and change your outlook:

What metaphors do you have for your body? 

Complete this sentence- My body is like a..........

Think about how you describe it and the associations you make? 

What impact do these metaphors have?

Are they helpful? Could they be better? How do they shape your experience? 

Choose a new, more helpful metaphor.

Try it on for size for 30 days. Catch yourself using old language and use your new metaphor. Practice it.

 

What metaphors do you have for your body?

What are they?

Are they helpful?

Have you changed your metaphor?

What impact did it have?

Let me know below or on the Facebook page