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This bonus episode is an ASK TAREK: where Tarek reads a question from a listener and gives an answer to help them heal.
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Embarking on a transformative journey, we uncover the profound impact of reconciling with our bodies, navigating through the scars of childhood trauma and the quest for acceptance. The power of therapy unravels before us, spotlighting its role in guiding us through the labyrinth of body dysmorphia and self-critique. With vulnerability at the core of our discussion, we explore the detrimental 'no pain, no gain' outlook and its role in the battle waged against our physical selves. As we journey deeper, we discover the importance of tuning into our body's needs and learning to communicate with the very vessel that carries us through life.
Join me as I venture into the heart of what it means to foster a positive and nurturing relationship with our bodies. We dissect the layers of influence—from social media's pervasive gaze to the imprints left by family and past connections—that shape our self-perception. Through personal reflection, we understand the necessity of patience and resilience in the ongoing pursuit of body acceptance. This dialogue is not just a narrative of struggle, but a beacon of empowerment, inviting you to embrace your body with compassion and revel in the greater happiness that blooms from self-love.
leap into healing. Subscriber edition. Hello, beautiful people. This is terik Ali with another ask, terik. Essentially, this person is asking how I ended the toxic relationship with my body. So, of course, I'm going to start with a question and then I'm going to go into an overview of my relationship with my body. Now, if you listen to episode 16, you have heard some of these details, but I'm just giving a small recap for context for my answer that will follow. I will also go over how I stopped pushing my body and how I became aware of my relationship with my body, how I learned to listen to my body, apologizing to my body, and how I learned to take care of my body. And, without further ado, we'll get right into it. How did you learn to listen to your body? I think there's this widespread no pain, no gain narrative that's not very healthy and puts you in a meet against my body mindset. Has this been an issue to you and your journey? I would like to hear more about that. Okay, so this was the process for me, growing up very, very early. I'm trigger warning s a. Okay, when I was very young, I was assorted continuously for years by a family member. Okay, so this was the first part of me mentally disconnecting from my body. I saw it as me having to give my body up to someone else to make them happy and to receive love and attention. Boom, at that point, when I was really little, I wasn't that big, but as I got older, I started to gain a lot of weight. The doctor told me I was obese, and then I had people making fun of me all of the time, and so my way of not internalizing that was separating myself from my body and in a way where they're making fun of this and not me, and that helped my confidence because I'm like oh, I have no control over that, that's not me. You know, all I wanted was love and acceptance, and I saw that with my body I couldn't have that, and I think that mentally I separated myself so that I could deserve it despite my body, and so I made it something else. Um, so whenever I wanted something from it, like every time I tried to work out, I would bully myself, you know, like stop eating this bad. Or like pushing myself to work out when I didn't want to, pushing myself to do a diet that I hated, just always pushing and pushing and pushing and talking down on it in a way where I would look in the mirror and be like, oh, I don't like my stomach, I gotta go to the gym, I gotta go to the gym. And I also noticed, just with you know, as I started to grow up and I started to become, you know, sexually active and I would have, you know, relations with people or sex, and there would be times where I wasn't like completely, I was uncomfortable. It doesn't even need to be an inspection girl. I was uncomfortable and I kind of didn't want to have sex or I knew I I rather not like, I rather just lay here. But because the other person wanted sex, um, because of what the s? A did to me in my earlier childhood, you know I have to give this to get love and affection of the things I want, I sometimes would just do it. I was actually using my body as currency in a way where I'll give you my body if you give me this. And to bring this all back around to your question of the no pain, no gain in the mindset of me against my body, I had to dig deep into my own trauma in my own childhood and my own experience to see why that mindset was so like burned into my brain. Now it is a narrative that is on social media or in the fitness world in general, like stop being lazy, put that doughnut down and go to the gym. But I think that it's a little harder I don't say harder, it's, it's. It's a bit more intricate and it takes a little bit more work for people with body dysmorphia and people with experiences similar to mine, where it's been ingrained into your dna for your survival mode. Your survival mode included you giving your body away or giving your body up or not having any agency of your body or any respect for your body, um, and so I had to dig into my own trauma to get rid of that and and not get rid of I don't want to say that because I don't ever want to have a goal of getting rid of. I want to get to the goal of working with and if it fades, it fades. So I I I focus more on working with um, and my therapist actually helped me with that. It was like I would notice things about myself and I'm like, oh, I need to fix that. And she was like, before we even get to like, before you get to fixing that. You don't have to solve everything. You're insecure, okay, you don't have to move on to be in confident. You're insecure about this. One, accept that and then maneuver with that. So if you know you're insecure about money and then somebody says something about money, you get upset. You'll know now with that self-awareness oh, I'm insecure about money. Maybe they didn't mean it like that. Let me ask. So yes, I will say with the no pain, no gain narrative and the the media gets my body mindset. That's how I combated that. I had to dig into my own trauma and see why. I really thought that I had to push myself in order to get something from my body. Because I separated myself from my body. I always saw like this is me, this is my body. So if I go to the gym every day two weeks and then I look at my body right and I'm like you're not fucking changing, so I would just go to bullying, like you know, you're fat. Or like lose weight. Like why aren't you losing weight? I, I did this, I did that, I did that. And my body like she don't deserve this, like you know. And even with sex it's like, oh, I want this dude to like me? Okay, let him do this, let him do this, okay, or let's do this, let's do this. Like I just never let my body be with me and I would have people respect me. But I didn't really care much about people respecting my body in that way, because I was just so used to it being torn apart. I let the world teach me how to treat my body, and so when I saw everybody else tearing it apart, I was like, okay, well, that's how I'm going to get something out of it. That's how I'm going to get something out of it. I'm going to keep tearing it apart. I'm going to keep tearing it apart until I realize this is not working. It's been 24 years and this ain't worked. So something got to give girl. So when I dig deep into my trauma, I saw why I operated in that way, why I thought I always had to give something to get, and I saw my body as currency. I had to sit back and realize I am my body, we are one, we are together. This is mine, this is mine, this is my body. And even when I say it now, I am affirming still, it's still like, I'm still working on it, like it's not something that goes away in a month or three, and I know that may not give you peace, but, girl, we got to work on it. But even me just saying that, I felt so powerful because I've been really respecting my body and not doing anything with it that I don't want to do and that it doesn't want to do. And which brings me to the next question, where you asked how did you learn to listen to your body? And I think it's way simpler than you would think. It's just that we aren't taught. You know, social society is very people pleasing, in a way where you don't want to make people feel bad, you don't want to make people think this or do that, and you want to have manners. Especially me, being raised by Southern African American family. Whenever I felt like somebody was asking me of something, I would be okay after, like it wouldn't kill me. Then I'll be like okay, and that's without even taking a second to think about what I want. You know, are you okay with this, tariq, do you want to do that? I never took a moment to really ask myself. It would just go, hey, let's do this. And I'd be like, ooh, I want that. Okay, yeah, let's do it. I would never sit back and be like am I okay with this, am I comfortable with this? Even with that old mindset that I have, where I separated myself from my body. Like I said, instead of trying to fix that, I worked with it, and that's why I said I went to my body and I apologized. So when I wasn't sure, I asked my body. I'm like do you want to have sex with this person? I would ask it do you want to have sex? It's like no and I'm like okay, well then, no, I don't care how fine this person is, I don't care if it's their last night in my city, girl, I don't care if this is somebody from 10 years ago, it doesn't matter If your body is telling you no, listen, it's a no, babe. And that's just one example. More examples is like when I would eat certain things and my body would react and tell me it doesn't feel good. I would eat so much dairy and then be so lethargic and so sluggish and just not feel my best afterwards and I'll be like oh, that's just because I ate dairy. Like you know, that's just what it does. No, it don't do that to everybody, girl. It does that to your body and your body is telling you hey, you know, I know you like dairy, but it makes us a little weak and that's why everybody has different allergies. You can eat a peanut, some people can't. You know your body will tell you girl, we can't eat that, like we will pass out. Some people can eat it, you can. I think, when you remove yourself from this group, think or there's a sociology word that I'm trying to think of, where you try to assimilate or just be like everyone else in society, because that's what we're taught Blend in, be like everyone else. I think, when you remove yourself from that and realize that you're the only person with your body and you're the only one who knows it as good as you do, you know what certain foods do to you. You know how certain diets make you feel, does it make you feel good? Some people thrive on certain diets, some people don't. What works for another person may not work for you, and I think that's a huge part of listening to your body is paying attention to how your body reacts. That is its way of speaking. Okay, so if you eat something and you vomit right after, it's telling you girl, you probably shouldn't eat that, just how everyone has different preferences with liquor and alcohol. You know they're like oh, vodka does this to me and we be like really, girl, don't do that to me. Or Hannity does it. Your body will tell you, girl. Your body literally tells you more than we've ever paid attention to. But I think now that I've offered this to you, you're going to start seeing that You're wondering why you're so tense every time you go to have sex with that one person. It's because your body doesn't wanna have sex with them. Girl, like it's. Listen to your body and know that it can't speak English. Okay, it speaks to you and shakes, shivers, feelings. You wake up, you feel heavy. Why do you feel heavy? There's your body telling you that you're emotional. There's a lot going on, you know. So listen to it in that way and that's more mental. But if you wanna get to the fitness side of it and the workout side of it, whenever it comes to working out or the gym, if something hurts, I'm stopping. Ever since I went up to my body and I apologized to my body and I said you know, for 23 years I did not see you a part of this. You know, I didn't see you a part of this and I'm sorry because I've treated you like a reject in the ugly, duckling my entire life. I've bullied you, I've talked shit about you, I've given you to other people when you did, you asked me not to and I've just used you as currency instead of respecting you and I had to go to my body and apologize in that way and ever since I apologized to my body, I now see my body like another person. I talk to it, I apologize when I do something wrong. Like I've been really clumsy, like I'm pretty clumsy in a way where I'll just like walk into walls and I'll like sometimes hit my foot on stuff just out of me, just like not paying attention. I mean, I just never paid any mind because it's like yeah, it hurts, but like okay, you'll be fine. Like it's just you hit the wall, you know, but like this is my body Like and I gotta take care of it. Like I don't know, sometimes we just treat our bodies like old pairs of shoes and we have to realize that in 50 years we will have this same body and that shoulder will hurt because you didn't take care of it before and also it doesn't deserve that. Even aside from you know you could benefit from this if you take care of your body. On the other side, it's just you. Your body doesn't deserve that. Treat your body how you would like other people to treat your body. I am really big on that now. So whenever I'm not sure, or if I'm doing something that can harm my body or that plays a part with my body anything with my body I ask my body first and I let it respond. It is a process and you have to be really gracious with yourself and you may have to go to your body and apologize. You may have to go to your body and listen and say when did I do you wrong? Or why don't we get along? Or like, why don't I like you? You know, and just be honest about that and write that down. You know, maybe it is the Instagram pictures. Okay, now you know what you need to do. You know, maybe it is your mom, because she talked about your body your entire life. Maybe it's your ex-girlfriend that constantly made comments about your body and told you that you needed to lose weight, because before that you never had a problem with your body. Like you know, it was just what it was. So I think you have to first go to your body and Ask questions, listen and talk back. You know, and that helps me. Sometimes I literally talk to myself, and I'm not saying talk to myself like you look really good. I mean I'll really be like, are you okay? I'm not too sure. Something about that just made me very uncomfortable. You know what I think? It's because, like, hey, let people call you crazy or you could do it in your privacy. Who gives a damn? The goal here is to have a better relationship with yourself and with your body and whatever you're trying to do here. So when you keep that in mind and you have tunnel vision with that goal, everything everybody else saying because at the end of the day, I have to live in my body, they don't so say what you want. And I spent my entire life having a horrible relationship with my body and I'm not going to let anybody else get in the way of that anymore. It's not perfect for me right now, like I didn't make it to the other side. It's still an everyday journey for me, but it's a fight. Everyday journey, everyday fight. You know what I mean. But it's a fight that I'm willing to fight, because where I am now. I would not trade this for the world. I'm so happy, I'm so happy and I have my moments, but I'm happy and I'm loving myself and so I encourage all of you to love yourself and, you know, talk to your body and love your body. So I love you guys and I hope you have a great day.