Why Body Acceptance is Necessary to Succeed in Business

Post by Anna Guest-Jelley for the Kindness in Business series.


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Why Body Acceptance is Necessary to Succeed in Business

I’ve heard people say that running your own business is the biggest personal growth journey you could undertake. And after running my own business for almost three years, I (mostly) agree.

The only personal growth journey that rivals it in my own life is that of learning to accept (and sometimes even love!) my body.

I can’t really say which was harder, but fortunately I don’t have to. They’re so intertwined that there’s really no difference.

Bringing Up Your Stuff

Whether you’ve been running a business for years or are just starting to consider the idea, you probably already know that even a glimpse of the idea starts to bring up all kinds of your “stuff.” “Who would want to buy this?” “Who am I to think I can run a business?” “I’m too busy, unmotivated, incompetent, overworked, etc. to consider running a business.”

If you work through that, and start putting your biz out there, you come into the next layer of internal objections: “Why isn’t anyone buying my stuff?” “How come I’m not part of the biz cool kids?” “Who am I to think I can run a business?” Yeah, that last one just keeps coming up.

When these questions arise, things get uncomfortable (at best) — and quick.

Convenient Scapegoat

Many of us like to blame our bodies when things go wrong. Well, maybe “like” isn’t exactly the right word. But many of us do this.

Let me give an example from my own life: Recently, I was having a hard time getting a particular work project off the ground. I thought I really wanted to do it, but for whatever reason when I sat down to work on it, I ended up doing anything else instead.

Instead of looking at why this was happening, I shifted into body blame. I got into an obsession with how I hate the way my jeans look because my belly is too big, and because I lock my knees sometimes, it made it look even bigger.

This happy li’l train of thought took me right on down the tracks of “I knew I should have gone on a diet!” “I guess it’s not too late. Hmm…I wonder how many times I can go to the gym today?” “Why is my body still such a failure?” “OMG–I didn’t even see my arms in this shirt! Ack!”

And so on and so forth — unfortunately, I’m sure you can fill in from there. Many of us have seen a variation of this narrative in our own heads at some point, if not earlier this very day.

Bypass

Here’s the thing — that whole body drama? It didn’t really have anything to do with my body. It was an out. It got me off the hook of looking at a business decision that I knew deep down I needed to shift but didn’t want to.

So instead I took an off route into body loathing. Because what could be more fun, right?

And this is where body acceptance comes in as a helpful business strategy. Because I’ve been working on body acceptance, I was able to recognize what happened. Since I know that body snark is usually a red flag that I’m avoiding something, I was able to (eventually) say to myself: “Sweetheart, what’s really going on here?”

Unsurprisingly, the answer wasn’t that my body truly was terrible and had to change. Instead, it was that I needed to get quiet for a few minutes and see what was the best route forward for this particular business project I’d been wanting to avoid.

Several Levels

I see body acceptance functioning on at least two levels for entrepreneurs (especially solopreneurs who may not have much outside feedback on their biz): (1) for the many, many of us who have been trained that hating our bodies is an acceptable pastime, the body can become an object of even more criticism when running a business if you’re not on the lookout for off routes like I took above and (2) the more we connect with our bodies, the more we know what is right for our business.

How does the latter work? Say, for example, someone you admire online invites you to collaborate on a business project. Swoon! You adore this person and would be pumped to work with them! So you reply to the email within 2 seconds with an exuberant YES! And you’re off to the races — except, a few weeks in, things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped. And you feel overwhelmed and pressed for time with your already full plate of biz to-dos.

If we rewound the above and included respect for the body and its messages, we might be able to preempt the overwhelm and sketchy feelings. So say the same email comes in, and your first response is the same — Hell to the Yeah! But instead of firing off an email before you can finish blinking, you take a moment to tune into your body. And because you know your body so well and value its wisdom (rather than criticizing how it looks in jeans–ahem), you know your body’s cues. So when you tune in and think about the project, and feel some dread in your gut, you know you need to pause and do some more thinking about how this collaboration could actually fit into your schedule, how you could honor your desire to work with this person you respect without throwing yourself under the bus.

What a (body & biz lovin’) concept.

Anna Guest-Jelley, E-RYT200, RYT500, is the founder of Curvy Yoga — a training & inspiration portal for body-lovin’ yogis & their whole-hearted teachers. As a writer, teacher & lifelong champion for women’s empowerment & body acceptance, Anna encourages women of every size, age & ability to grab life by the curves. And never let go. Explore Curvy Yoga programs, classes & certification courses online at CurvyYoga.com. And connect with Anna on Facebook and Twitter.

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