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  • Ruth Priscilla

Call a Truce on the War Within



Violence, Injustice and Oppression are Amongst Us.

It may sound like the tagline of an apocalyptic science fiction film, but it’s more likely to be the daily experience of the majority of women in relationship to their own body, than anything fictional.

Wait! What?

Is this about self-harming?

Gender discrimination?

Women’s lives in third world countries?

NOPE!

This is about YOU and the way you view and treat your body. If you just vehemently thought that this doesn’t apply to you then you really DO need to keep reading. Because you may have progressed and healed and personally developed yourself to a place of love and light, but I guarantee that there are places within your body that still hold the trauma which you have inflicted (consciously or unconsciously) upon yourself at some stage of your life.

AND that needs acknowledging, understanding, appreciating and compassion to enable you to fully step into that love and light in all the dimensions you are choosing to live in right now.

I was scrolling through social media the other day when a post speaking about how the violence, injustice and oppression being experienced in war-torn countries is the responsibility of us all - even if we find ourselves currently living in a place where we can comfortably shelter, with our needs met and our individual desires still central to our world view. We as a collective are creating and embodying all that we see in the world.

I noticed how I so glibly read the title of the post and was ready to dismiss it as irrelevant to me personally, when something pulled me back to those three words.

Violence

Injustice

Oppression

When I began to consider how I, in my comfortable first world country might experience these things in my current situation, I had to imagine some freak turn of fate that placed me in harm’s way. That’s if I was viewing these three things as coming at me from an external source.

Something in me knew these words, and not just by mental definition, but by visceral experience.

My mind was whirring to place whether perhaps I had some suppressed memory in which I had experienced something so dark, harmful and extreme that I had buried it deep within my mind.

As I was thinking about this, there was no foreboding sense that I should avoid this at all costs and so I got curious. I somehow knew these words through experience but could not place them in my memory, so I decided to go to their very academic definitions for clues.

VIOLENCE:

- behaviour involving physical force to hurt, damage, abuse or kill someone or something

- strength of emotion or of a destructive natural force

- With the intentions behind such behaviour coming from economic, political, institutional, sexual, gender, cultural, religious or information sources.

INJUSTICE:

- an unjust occurrence, lack of fairness, undeserved outcomes, violation of right or rights – discrimination or unfairness caused by selfishness, a matter of inequality.

OPPRESSION:

- Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority, mental pressure, distress or restraints

- burdened by troubles or adverse conditions which lower self-esteem and reduces life opportunities

- hold down from being true to self


As I looked at each of these, the pit of my stomach became a vacuous well of guilt and shame as I realised I had indeed experienced these things in my life but not at the hands or intention of someone else directly.

I had inflicted these on myself. At every point of my memory journey that I visited, there were marks of these three things that I had knowingly chosen to rain down upon myself in some way, shape or form.

Despite the reasoning which was available to me to not fall prey to external opinions, cultural ideas, societal norms and habits learned along the way – I all too often CHOSE to inflict violence, injustice and oppression upon myself, and to excuse it as necessary and normal.

If you’re thinking I may need therapy for psychological wounding and past trauma, you may well be right. However let me show you how every woman you know (and you if you’re a woman reading this) has done the same for most, if not all of her life.

How many of us force physical exertion, exhaustion and challenge on ourselves all in the name of ‘FITNESS’. No pain, no gain we chant as our well-honed mindset practices override our physical intuition. For the effort we award ourselves the gold star of willpower, as our bodies whimper and muster resources of resilience from the places where it was storing that precious commodity for joyful living.

Ooh it’s a fine, fine line between a playful slap and a punch in the gut.

That line is the balance of intention and the attitude of privilege with which we think we have the right to apply such force to our physical body. Just because the body is capable of being pushed, challenged and cajoled into achieving, doesn’t mean it should be. This is where the balance of intention and the practice of listening to our physical body with compassion and understanding comes in.

No longer can we give over the power and responsibility of that choice to a society that demands aesthetic perfection or a scientific model that simplifies us all down to data within normative ranges. To do so is to negate our own sovereignty and place ourselves in situations of physical abuse wrought by our own actions.

The injustice felt by so many of us at not having the perfect body, as defined by the societal norm that embedded itself within our psyche at some point in our lives, is always directed inward. It takes a very, very, very conscious, rebellious and belligerent personality to place that injustice externally at the feet of those who made us believe we were not good enough, and to leave it there.

Returning within ourselves with pride, appreciation and honour for ALL that we are.

Those of us who have done some decoding, unravelling or self-loving type work, experience moments of this freedom, but to live in it continuously would take a steely constitution and a totally self-centred view of the world that ignores the injustices that others feel, because this particular injustice is so prevalent and pervasive in our society that it is considered the ‘normal human conditioning’.

We feel that it is unfair that we can’t consume cake and NOT get fat, or drink a bottle of wine every night and not look like the lady in the advert drinking the wine, so we get angry with our body and the seeming injustice of the situation. That anger places us in constant judgment of ourselves within that situation. Judging whether we are deserving of a ‘treat’ or not, berating ourselves when we succumb, and planning what violence or oppression we will inflict on ourselves to right the wrong.

Those are the insidious injustices we inflict on ourselves on a daily basis, or have to listen to others inflict on themselves.

We have all probably seen the meme that says, ‘would you talk to your best friend or your child the way you talk to yourself?’.

We all nod and agree, and then slip straight back into the patterns and habits of self-deprecation and placing harsh expectations on ourselves, all in the name of self-betterment, not realising the oppression we have just applied to ourselves.

The self-inflicted type of oppression usually arises from expectations we place on ourselves. Whether it be because of how we believe we need to fit in, or how we should perform to be able to acceptable, or what we should become to fulfil a future plan.

This, just like violence we do to ourselves, is a fine line between overbearing authority and sovereignty. The line is in the intention or motivation that drives us along a particular course of action. To choose between the carrot or the stick, as it were.

Do we pursue certain actions and ways of being because we loathe the state we are in, fear the outcome if we don’t, or take on the expectations (burdens) of others?

When we are holding down and suppressing our TRUE SELF - the good, the bad, the gorgeous, the ugly, the caring, the hateful, the weak, the warrior, the full spectrum of who we are … we are oppressing ourselves and limiting our life experience and our capacity for joy and abundance.

Oppression of the body shows up as denigrating words and judgments of the way the body is at any given moment and plays out in actions like:

- Constant thoughts of having to improve or change the current state of our body, because it’s not good enough.

- Placing restrictive measures and habits on the physical body.

- Not participating in something that would bring joy and connection due to feelings of inadequacy or shame.

- Living with injuries, conditions or physical restrictions and believing they make us less than anyone else.

The antidote, revolution or healing for these three self-inflicted things is a generous dollop of acceptance, appreciation and compassion on a moment to moment basis.

I have written about these things in terms of we, us, our, because it is something we all experience. However as I write about the revolution, the freedom, the healing of the body, I am speaking to YOU. Because YOU alone must choose to stop the violence, injustice and oppression you enact against yourself by choosing to accept your body as it is and appreciate it for all it is.

It is a manifestation of YOU that can experience the sight, sound, touch, taste and smell of the world you inhabit. Allowing you to have experiences of connection, revelation and power as and when you choose to. Giving you opportunities to create and live many stories throughout the timeline of this physical experience. If that is not something to be amazed by and in awe of, then a shift in perception and belief in what your body does for you is required.

Accept and appreciate all of this before you can begin to take any action for transformation from a place of compassion and kindness towards yourself.

If you do not come to a place of liberation, peace and love within your physical body, your cycle of self-destruction will continue and your capacity to create, heal, share, and grow yourself, your world, your community and those around you is diminished because of it.

Take a look at how much you have already done, created and become and now imagine that magnified and amplified because you choose to end the war with your body.

Be your own revolution.







(photo credits - Camila Quintero Franco, Jana Sabeth, Reza Hasannia via Unsplash)

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©2020 Ruth Priscilla, Body Magic