If you’ve read some of my past posts, you’ve probably noticed I write a lot about how we all need to accept ourselves and how we should never stop working on improving ourselves. Loving yourself is a constant struggle for most, myself included, and it can be exhausting when you feel like you are constantly at war with yourself. I’ve written posts about my flaws, the things I hate most about myself, and the things I love. I’ve posted about my quirks, my mishaps, and my mental health. I’ve written multiple times about my boobs and the struggles and insecurities I’ve faced because of them. It’s no secret that for me, and for most people, loving yourself is really hard, and more often than not, we struggle the most with accepting our physical selves. If you’re like me, you’ve probably sat in front of a mirror on multiple occasions, and torn your reflection to shreds. You take inventory of everything you hate about yourself and all the things you wish you could change. Maybe you avoid the mirror all together. The worst part of this is that it will probably never end; some days you’ll love yourself completely and then the next, you’ll find a hundred different reasons to hate your body. It’s an ongoing battle that can be so draining that sometimes we just don’t have the energy to fight back. On days that I’m too tired to come up with anything that I like about my physical body, I’ve found that it helps me to instead think of all the amazing things my body can do.
While I understand there are thousands of physical illnesses that cause your body to work against you, I still believe that, for the most part, your body is on your side. Your body fights like hell, sometimes even against your own mind, to keep you alive. No matter how many people turn their back on you and abandon you, your body will never desert you. When it feels like the world is against you, your body is on your side and wants what’s best for you. While you may be unhappy with how you look, here are some amazing things the human body does for us.
It stops us from bleeding
When we bleed, our bodies respond by stopping it. When a cut opens up, our blood cells rush to the site and give a sort of group hug to stop anymore blood from escaping. The coolest part is that it’s only the beginning of the healing process. Think about how much work your body has to do for this. It has to recognize that it’s losing blood, figure out where this is happening, and then signal the blood cells to move into formation. The blood cells then rush to the site and squeeze together to get the bleeding to stop. No matter how many times we cut ourselves, whether it’s an accident or not, our bodies will work to stop the bleeding.
The skin heals itself
Have you ever stopped to think about how unbelievably awesome this is? If wood splits or plastic cracks or paper tears, that’s it; they cannot fix these issues all on their own. Skin can. When we peel off the top layer of skin, it grows back. When we get a cut or a scratch, the skin grows to close the gap. No matter how much you hate the way your skin looks, it will still work to heal itself. If you self-injure, your skin will close the cuts, no matter how many times you reopen them. Sometimes our skin creates a thicker layer using scar tissue just for added protection. The skin doesn’t seem to care how mean we are to it; it will still work tirelessly to fix itself.
Pupils change size depending on light
We don’t have to consciously tell our eyes to adjust to light- they just do it! When it’s bright out, our pupils contract to protect the sensitive cells in our retinas. When it’s dark, they enlarge to let more light in so we can see. Our eyes have their own complex defense system that we don’t have to actively train, and I think the pupils are the most interesting part of that system.
White blood cells devour things that are dangerous
White blood cells are more hard core than we can ever hope to be. They are probably the strongest defense system known to man; even stronger than the MN Vikings defensive line. White blood cells don’t wait for pathogens to come to them; they go looking for them and can even squeeze out of blood vessels and into the tissue to beat infections that occur there. They engulf and kill more threats to our bodies than we can count. White blood cells give new meaning to the words “constant vigilance” because they are literally always ready to defend and protect us. There is nothing else in this world that is more dedicated to defending you than your white blood cells. They will work to protect you even when you feel like you aren’t worth saving.
It regulates its own temperature
I think this process really shows how hard our body fights for us to stay alive. It doesn’t just crank up the AC or the heat; it balances body fluids, maintains salt concentrations, controls the release of chemicals and hormones, regulates sweat glands, and so many other processes I can’t even begin to pretend to understand to keep our body temperature where it needs to be. We sweat when we need to cool off and we shiver when we need to warm up. This system even fights threats to our health by raising the temperature to cause a fever to kill whatever is making us sick. It’s fascinating that our bodies go through this complex process constantly, and we usually aren’t even aware of it. The fact that our bodies just know when to warm us up or cool us down is mind boggling.
Broken bones fix themselves
Like our skin, bones also know how to heal themselves. When we break a bone, our blood once again springs into action to form a protective clot around the fracture. Inside this clot, certain cells clean up the bone fragments left behind. A callus then forms over the fracture site to hold the bone in place and protect it while it heals. Inside the callus, new bone cells are created to repair the break. The bone then remodels itself by breaking down any extra tissue to return the bone to its original shape. It blows my mind that something as solid and strong as a bone can repair itself when it’s broken. How many things in this world can actually put themselves back together after being snapped in half? I think bones can also serve as a beautiful metaphor for life; when you feel broken, instead of trying to put all the broken pieces back together, just clean up the shards and create new pieces to fill the empty space. It can take a long time, but, like the bone, you are capable of rebuilding yourself.
It filters out toxins
If you’re anything like me, you put a lot of toxic crap into your body. Luckily, our livers and kidneys are hard workers that filter all that crap out of us. You can partake in a three day drinking binge (guilty), and your body will just continuously filter out the chemicals and impurities. I’m not even going to begin to try to describe how this process works, but I think we could learn something from our bodies’ filtration system- as you go through life, you have to filter out the crap and focus on the good. If our livers and kidneys can do it, so can our minds.
The liver regrows
While we’re on the topic of livers, it completely blows my mind that the liver can just regrow. It’s the only organ that can do this, and you only need 25% of the original for it to grow back to full size. I put my liver through a lot of trouble, so it’s comforting for me to know that it can heal itself. I remember being a little kid and learning that a starfish can regrow its arm and thinking about how unbelievable that was. Little did I know that humans have an organ that can do the same thing. I mean, if I’m going to continuously damage a vital organ, it might as well be the one that can heal itself, right?
The heart just beats
Have you ever taken the time to really think about how awesome the heart is? The thing that keeps us alive is the size of our fists and constantly beats (hopefully) to keep us going. You don’t have to consciously keep telling it to beat, it just does. On top of that, our heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood each day! Think about how much that is! No matter how much you may feel like dying, your heart will keep working its butt off to keep you alive. You can sit and tell it to stop beating, but it won’t- it will keep on fighting for you. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is.
9 times out of 10, we breathe without having to think about doing it. It seems like such a quick, simple process, but our lungs do a lot of complex work in a very short amount of time. We breathe in one type of molecule, and breathe out one completely different. Most of the time, the first thing a baby does when it’s born is take in a huge breath to let out a wail. Breathing not only keeps us alive, but it can also relax us. When you’re trying to calm someone down, the first thing you tell them is to take a deep breath. Some days, when I feel absolutely worthless, I give myself credit for simply breathing. When things seem unbelievably difficult, I tell myself to just keep breathing. I breathe to remind myself that I am alive. I am here and I matter. The same is true for everyone else in this world.
I don’t know if there is anyone in this world that likes 100% of their body 100% of the time. I could go on and on for days about the things I wish were different about my body, and I’m sure you could too. There are days when I hate the person I see in the mirror and cannot think of a single thing I genuinely like about myself. Those are the days I force myself to think about all the amazing things my body does for me, even when I’m not very nice to it.
Our bodies work every moment of every day to keep us alive. They fight for us when no one else does. They are there for us when no one else is. Our bodies love us unconditionally, and never even ask for us to love them in return. We can scream and cry about how much we hate our bodies, and they will still fight for us. If our bodies can heal themselves in so many different ways, doesn’t that mean our minds can too? Our bodies remind us that we are worth loving; that our lives are worth fighting for. I think it’s time we start loving them back. You don’t have to love every single part of yourself every day, but you can take some time to think about all the amazing, unbelievable things your body can do and be grateful for that. Thank you, body, for keeping me alive today.