The body, self-esteem and change – TherapyTribe

“The body is more than just another machine, indistinguishable from the artificial objects of the world; it is also the vector of individuals’ sense of self, of their most personal feelings and aspirations… ”(Gardner, 2011).

A number of my clients have issues with low self-esteem and body image. Indeed, they are not alone in this struggle… Many men and women of all ages struggle to find ways to accept, calm down, nourish and love their bodies. Add to that the impact of the media (in all its ubiquitous forms) and those sneaky pounds gained during the holiday season, and you’ve got a whole new kind of dilemma. This is where the body can get a bit delicate or overwhelming.

Of course, you don’t have to be a therapist to know that the world can be difficult sometimes. I used the word ‘battle’ above because for me that word is really starting to capture the idea of ​​being in conflict, being triggered, and fighting with yourself. When we start to feel overwhelmed in the body, anxious for the body, or depressed in the body, it is time to take a moment to try and get to the root of these distressing thoughts and feelings.

The body, our appearance, our sensations and our feelings can sometimes confront us, so we can easily forget the fact that people experience the world in and through the body. This existential or humanistic way of seeing the incarnation suggests that we are “inextricably bodily beings, we are our bodies, and it is only through our bodies that we can engage, meet, and “rise to” our worlds “(Cooper, 2013).

For some, the relationship they have with the body is somewhat of a mystery even to themselves. Due to feelings such as shame or embodied trauma, it is sometimes safer to maintain a sense of disconnection with the body, retaining much of the experiential advantage or learning from a distance.

“Some of us live ‘over the shoulder’, indulging in the stresses and strains of everyday life while neglecting the well-being of what lies under our neck” (Siegel, 2010).

As I mentioned above, sometimes we can feel disconnected from the body and a bit tired from the battle. That being the case, how do you tune and activate the somatic switch that connects the mind, body and spirit? This question is central to this discussion and is central to some of the work done by my clients in the therapy room.

Choosing to cultivate and nurture a more meaningful, compassionate, and embodied relationship with oneself is an ongoing and essential aspect of change. Although the therapeutic process and interventions change according to the client’s needs, the client’s sincere desire to return to a relationship with the body remains a constant.

At certain times in our lives, we all face choices. Many people would have heard the expressions “the body is a temple ” or ‘take refuge “ in the body. As such, my job often consists of supporting clients to change their relationship to their body and come back in alignment with the lived experience of these types of expressions. Simply put, when we act courageously and change our relationship to the problem – and in this context, it is the body – the problem changes or has the potential to go away altogether, leaving new space for the client to experience the good – being, vitality and ultimately a sense of fulfillment (Hefferon, 2013).

“To be courageous is to anchor our feelings deeply in the body and in the world… to be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made” (Whyte, 2015).

We can now begin to see how the process of change might play out. The body takes on new qualities and new meaning; the body becomes a place of comfort, intelligence, refuge, experience and wonder. Step by step, the client begins to transform, accept and understand the limits of the self and the impermanence of the body. If the body is continually changing, why can’t we change too? Well, we can, and we do, and working with a trained therapist helps the client tune in to this process of change with clear intention and a sense of purpose. Please get in touch if you would like to book a session or discuss these matters.


Cooper, M (2003). Existential therapies. London, SAGE Publications Ltd.

Gardner, H. and MyiLibrary. (2011). Frames of mind The theory of multiple intelligences (3rd ed.]ed.). New York: basic books.

Hefferon, K. (2013). Positive psychology and the body: the somatopsychic side of development. New York. Open University Press.

Siegel, D. (2010). Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation (1st ed.). New York: Bantam Books.

Whyte, D. (2015). Consolations: Comfort, nourishment, and the underlying meaning of everyday words. Langley. Lots of Rivers Press.

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