My clients always have "homework", usually in the form of meeting their specific goals for the week, but I occasionally throw in something a little extra. Sometimes I like to ask them to write a letter to their body. It can say anything and take whatever form they would like. It can be a letter to their current body, the body they once knew or the body they hope to have in the future. It can be a love letter or one of frustration . Anything goes. I ask them to think about it before taking pen to paper and maybe take some notes along the way. Once they write it, they're not forced to share it with me, but I do encourage them to put it somewhere safe so they can reflect on it again down the line.
My reason for this assignment is simple. Sometimes we take our bodies for granted or hold on to anger and shame towards it, not wanting to admit it's there. Just like in any relationship with another person, pushing feelings and emotions down or sweeping them under the carpet is never a good idea. Ignoring those things does not mean they are going to go away. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Those things fester. And the opposite is true as well. Not being present enough to fully appreciate what your body has done for you can be just as damaging. Just like the saying goes, "you don't know what you got 'til it's gone."
So here is my letter to my body. As honest and as true as I can be for where I am at today.
As I sit here in my 45th year, frustrated and complaining about my swollen and overworked right knee, I feel a little embarrassed. I have spent the last month or so yelling at you and feeling like you completely let me down. How dare you hurt! How could you possibly be so weak that you can't handle what I WANT to do anymore!?!? The nerve! And then I realize how stupid I sound. Of course you're a little bit tired! You have been there for me my entire crazy life and never let me down. You have carried me across race finish lines since I was in 3rd grade and made sure I reached every single physical goal I set for myself. You supported my desire to play basketball, softball and tennis. You made it through endless days of backpacking through streets of Europe, biking and hiking up mountains, swimming through lakes and oceans, waterskiing, snowshoeing, skiing. You bounced back from being flipped off a horse and lots of sicknesses. You always fought those germs! That must have been exhausting. And let's not forget about childbirth. You handled that too, with relative ease. Whenever I have wanted to push myself beyond your limits, you obliged. You made it work. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for not listening sooner that you needed a little break. I'm sorry for spending so many years in my youth hating the way you looked and taking drastic measures to try to change you into something you're not. I'm sorry for not appreciating you more and realizing just how lucky I have been to have you carry me through life. I can't promise you that I will stop pushing you (it's just in my nature), but I can promise you, that starting today and no matter what happens down the line, I'll be kinder towards you and appreciate just how fortunate I am to call you mine.
Now it's your turn.