I was 12 years old the first time I ever went rock climbing. I only made it a few feet off the ground before fear took over and I decided that I wanted to come down immediately. My brother was belaying me and instructed me to let go of the rock face I was spider clinging to and sit back in my harness.
Let go? Um, no.
It took as long for him to convince me to release my death grip as it had for me to climb the 5 feet off the ground. I finally convinced my hands to let go, and relaxed my body into the seat of my harness.
Only then was I able to recognize how tense my muscles had been and how much my fingers and toes hurt.
I had been believing that the only way for me to feel safe was to stay where I was, holding on to the rock, but I wasn't seeing the bigger picture.
While out for a run in my neighborhood a few weeks ago, I became aware of my thighs rubbing together. Then, internally scanning my body, I noticed a little more jiggle from my stomach than I'd like. My brain went right into, "ugh, I need to cut back on the sweets, why can't my body just be how I want it to be?" Another thought crept in, "what would it be like to just love my body?"
It seems reasonable that, in order to change my body- to eat well and exercise consistently, I would need to be dissatisfied with it. I would need to believe my body isn't good enough as-is, and that belief would motivate change. But holding that belief is a lot like clinging to that rock. It gives a false sense of security and fails to see the bigger picture.
Letting go of the belief that my body isn't good enough, and accepting is exactly as it is, feels like sitting back in that harness. It seems like I'm letting go of safety, but in reality it's the only way to get where I ultimately want to go. By accepting myself, I'm not giving up on taking care of my body. In fact, it's just the opposite. Part of taking care of my body is loving it, and when I love it, I eat well and exercise consistently.
I have years of practice thinking that my body isn't good enough, so it's going to take me some time to learn new thought patterns. For now, whenever the not-good-enough thoughts arise, I respond with my new thought: "I am choosing to love my body today."
Sometimes the beliefs we cling to seem like the safest or most comfortable option. We don’t notice the severity of the stress or exhaustion we feel. We confuse ease with stability. We’re afraid to let go, not realizing that releasing the grip might feel better than spider clinging to our current life.
Letting go is the only way to move toward where we ultimately want to be.