Blaming the Body

During a recent yoga class, the teacher asked us to thank our body and all its parts for what it had helped us do in class and throughout the day. She said: “be accepting of our perfect imperfections.” She encouraged the yoga students to accept our bodies and be grateful for what they could do, even if it wasn’t everything we wanted them to do.

Immediately, I felt like I was punched in the gut. I realized how much time I spent blaming my body and berating it for its limitations. I never thought to thank my body for what it can do and what it does on any given day. I spend so much time beating my body up with my thoughts (and even my actions), that I don’t give it the appreciation it deserves.

Blaming my body

When you live in a body that experiences constant pain and physical limitations (like joint contractions, weakness, and inflexibility), it can become habit to start hating it. I have a tendency to blame my body for having rheumatoid arthritis, even though I know it did not choose to have this disease, nor to have it so severely that medications have mostly failed. It didn’t want this hard life path.

I tend to berate my body for being weak and not being the body I may want. For having so much pain and fatigue that I struggle to move my body through the day, kind of like my mind is dragging my body behind me unwillingly. Sometimes I am just angry at my bones, but they don’t deserve this.

RA is to blame, not my body

I guess, in a way, my body had become my easiest scapegoat. I can blame it. I can yell at it. I can get angry with it for all the physical challenges I experience, the pain that accompanies it, and its sluggish movements. It’s there and I can see it and feel it, so it is an easy target that cannot escape nor complain. The RA is let off the hook and my body takes the blame for something it has no control over.

But, it’s not right, is it? To blame a being that didn’t make the RA yet was a victim of it. If I think about it and admit my failures, my mind is in the wrong. I should be celebrating and thanking my body for its endurance and survival with a terrible disease.

Turning anger into gratitude

If I turn the blame inside out, I can see that my body has done everything it can to keep going despite the pain, disease damage, and the physical challenges of an inaccessible world. It supports me every day without fail. It wakes me, gets me through my day the best it can, and never gives up. My body keeps going even when it hurts and doesn’t want to. My body keeps fighting to live.

It’s easier to complain. It’s easier to blame. It’s easier to be unhappy with my body than to really appreciate how much it does for me. My body may struggle day in and day out, but it keeps on going.

I think my mental blaming habits will be hard to break, but I do feel that at least my eyes have been opened. I can more clearly see how hard my body works to support me and how much I should be appreciating all its efforts. Despite always wanting more from it, I think practicing some gratitude for my body is a healthy step to take—especially when I consider that it is the one and only body I will ever have.

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