Progress over perfection: A shame-free approach to self-improvement

body acceptance body shame confident in own skin eating habits healing improve your self personal improvement self growth self improvement self progress Apr 13, 2023


Often, when we're focused on personal growth and healing, we tend to be harsh and inflexible towards ourselves when striving to improve a particular aspect of our lives. However, I'd like to emphasize that the growth and healing process is not always linear. 


(if you prefer to listen & learn, check out the Radical Embodiment podcast episode on this topic)


By understanding this concept, we can learn to be more gentle with ourselves. As my work is geared towards supporting women in learning to embrace their bodies and break free from body shame, I will speak specifically about the healing journey towards body acceptance.


During our journey towards body acceptance, there may be moments when we feel great and confident in our own skin, but then suddenly we hit a "speed bump." In my book, Radical Embodiment: A Practical Guide to Celebrating the Skin You're In, I explain how these ‘setbacks’ can actually be a positive thing.


However, when we experience them, we may find ourselves being more critical and judgmental of our bodies. These ‘setbacks’ can be frustrating and discouraging, especially when we've made progress in our growth and desire to improve ourselves.


At times, we might revert back to strict diets or become unkind to ourselves, resulting in feelings of discouragement about our progress towards body acceptance. It's normal to experience these setbacks and feel uncertain about our journey. However, it's important to know that we're not alone in this experience. Acknowledging and accepting that these speed bumps are a part of the healing and growth process can provide support and help us avoid becoming too attached or critical of ourselves. It's essential not to let ‘setbacks’ define our ability to move beyond our past limitations.


I view these speed bumps or ‘setbacks’ as opportunities rather than obstacles in our healing journey. They provide us with a chance to uncover the next layer of healing and discover new insights. When it comes to healing, it's important to note that if we were to address all the issues at once, it would be overwhelming and potentially traumatic. Therefore, these ‘setbacks’ allow us to address one layer at a time, making the healing process more manageable and effective.


As a certified Rolfer and embodiment coach, I often think about the concept of titration in my work. Whether I'm providing hands-on work or coaching over the phone, I'm mindful of not pushing my clients too quickly into discomfort or triggering old memories that could potentially re-traumatize them. I aim to titrate the experience by gradually introducing small doses of new sensations or insights that won't overwhelm their nervous system. Although it's a different context, this approach is similar to the idea of titration in chemistry, where we carefully measure and administer a substance to achieve a desired effect without causing harm.


Our bodies are incredibly intelligent, and the appearance of these "wham" moments is like peeling back the next layer of the onion that's ready to be explored. When we experience ‘setbacks’, it often means that we are in a more resourced place in our lives, perhaps with outside support or feeling more supported within ourselves, and that we have a greater capacity to deal with the discomfort that arises.


This discomfort could be a deeper insight, inner child healing, or uncovering a blind spot that we didn't want to see. While it may feel uncomfortable, these experiences provide us with opportunities to surrender and yield to the discomfort, which can support us in our inner growth and facilitate progress. I see these waves or setbacks as a positive indication that we are prepared for the next stage of healing.


I believe that the healing process often comes in waves. If you imagine a visual of a wave, it goes up and down. Ideally, as we progress, the downward parts become shorter, with less time in between, as we become more aware and able to label our emotions with a more neutral mindset. Rather than labeling these waves as "good" or "bad," simply acknowledging and accepting them as they are can be a helpful approach to the healing process.


You may be noticing some self-sabotaging behaviors from your past. These behaviors can include overly restrictive eating habits, feeling tense around food, struggling to stop overeating, craving unhealthy food, and being harsh and critical towards yourself mentally. These behaviors may be difficult to manage, but it's important to acknowledge their presence and work towards addressing them, instead of judging yourself or feeling discouraged.


Instead of feeling discouraged by these examples, try to approach them with curiosity. Ask yourself, "Okay body, okay nervous system, what is it that you want me to look at?" It may be something that you feel resistant towards because it won't be easy, but it will be worthwhile and fulfilling to explore.


So, don't give up and don't let these behaviors discourage you. Keep an open mind and stay curious about what your body and mind are trying to communicate to you.


For more on this and my own personal share of how these ‘whams’ came up in a very big way in the writing, editing, and launching of my book, listen to the Progress over Perfection Radical Embodiment podcast episode.


With love,




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