The way we treat our bodies in this culture is the way a Narcissist treats everyone. Like something to use. Narcissistic people are motivated by one thing. Will this benefit me?
Let’s say I’m a Narc and I’m deciding whether I should say hello to you or not. The thought process is simple.
Will talking to you benefit me?
Will talking to you make me look better?
Will talking to you give me more power, or make me look smarter?
Will taking my time with you give me an edge in any way?
Of course there are spiritualized versions of this.
Will talking to you be worthy of my time? My time really belongs to God, and after all, you didn’t listen the last time I told you what to do.
When relationally oriented (non-narc) types makes a decision, ‘Will this benefit me?’ is one of the considerations, but it is generally only one of many. What primarily motivates a relationally oriented person is, you guessed it – relationship. Relationship to ourselves, to others and the world around us, which leads us to ask different questions.
Will talking to you make us both grow in our understanding of an idea?
Will talking to you make me late, which might harm another relationship?
Will talking to you honor you, honor myself, and honor God?
Will talking to you give you the feeling of belonging?
Now consider the way we treat our bodies. Very fickle, and Narc-like, I say. Body sometimes offers something that benefits me. There have been times Body has been strong, and brown, cute, and just the right and shape and size for fitting into a nice pair of jeans. There are times Body has made me look beautiful, brought me a bit of power, and given me advantages. These are the times I’ve treated Body nice. I’ve regarded it. I’ve rested it. I’ve attended to it’s needs, dress it up, stretched it and ran tracks and stairs and mountain trails with it, all friendly like.
And then something happens. Body breaks. It can’t do what it once did. Just looking at Body makes me sick. The swollen face, thinning hair, pasty and hunched. Body that doesn’t benefit me the way I’ve wanted it to. In fact it’s an embarrassment. Total rejection and repulsion is what I feel toward a body that once benefitted me.
Such narcissism. Such objectification. What if I treated my body relationally? What if I sought to let my body know it’s value? What if I attempted to receive the kindness my not perfect body has attempted to extend to me day after day? Might I learn to speak blessings to my body? Wouldn’t Body feel more beautiful if I made an attempt to welcome its presence? Would the things I think and say to myself allow me to be more comfortable in my own skin?
Some confuse narcissism as obsession with self rather than what it actually is, an obsession with a fantasy of self. Because the true self is made up of a real human being. A human whose body sometimes gives and sometimes needs to be given to. Using another for my benefit is a terribly ugly thing. So is using my own body, and distancing myself from it when it can’t be for me what I expect. Body has value – it’s value stands alone despite not always being what I’ve wanted. It’s time I treat it that way.