Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Seven Year Itch: Surviving the Boring Body Relationship

Call it the Seven Year Itch. You've been with your body awhile, say decades. It doesn't always do everything you want and it may even, at times, have disappointed you with pain, illness or weight gain. That 'in love' feeling you may have had as a kid, the sense that you and your body were invincible and could do anything, may have shifted to a more ginger, tempered approach--one earned by years of body history, of learning that things can happen that leave a scar or a symptom. The truth is, we're not immortal. Much as we'd love our bodies not to change, buckle or age, they do. What do we do to keep the love alive?

It's the same crossroads we come to in relationships, if we're lucky enough to have them for that long. They go through cycles. Sometimes your partner is boring, disappointing and blah. Sometimes there's connection, beauty and grace. What is it the makes the difference? There seem to be a few key pointers for those relationships that survive, and I think they apply to the relationship we have with our bodies too.

1) Commitment - In our relationships, we can be with someone and still have one foot out the door, always looking to see if something better is going to come along. Ironically, we can do the same thing with our bodies, wanting to be someone else or escape from where we are with some magical, miracle cure, diet, etc. Our relationship to our bodies benefits greatly from our fully choosing to be present, without fear, to whatever is showing up. If we can see our bodies as great teachers (even if we don't always like the lesson while it's happening) we stay in the relationship in a different way, uniquely committed to it. The same is true when we honor any relationship. We actually want to listen to what our body has to say instead of judging it and wishing we were somewhere else.

2) Patience - The best relationships honor not just our strengths but our weaknesses, having some compassion for whatever's hard for us. Patience with your body and yourself means that slow and steady wins the race, that you have good days and bad days and that you're here for each other one day a time. Instead of being impatient because your body isn't giving the results you want--or you're not following through the way you thought you would on some new regimen of self-care--have patience that you're both moving toward a goal. The most important thing is the connection along the way. Impatience breeds contempt and a lack of respect, and makes you both miserable.

3) Fun - Don't forget to actually enjoy each other's company. When was the last time you did something that felt great for both of you, that connected you to each other? Sometimes that can be as simple as checking in, taking a breath, feeling what's actually going on in your body. Maybe it's also putting on some music and dancing around, going for a walk outside in the fresh air, stretching, getting a massage, taking a bath. We can be such stern task masters in relationship to our bodies that we forget we can also enjoy them and all the senses they provide us with.

Boredom, judgement and disappointment can plague all of our relationships. We all have the fantasies we'd like to escape to. But sometimes the escaping keeps us out of really creating the best relationship we can have in the here-and-now. What could you do right now, today or this week that would surprise and delight your body? How can you renew your commitment to it by taking some move toward it rather than away? Maybe the Seven Year Itch can become the Seven Year Hug.

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