03/07/2014 07:30 BST | Updated 02/09/2014 06:59 BST

How to Love and Accept Your Body

If you're a woman, it's likely that you have some gripes about your body. Maybe you think your arms are a bit fat or, actually, you'd rather like to swop it altogether for Cheryl Cole's.

Whatever your shape, size or age, if you're a woman - you've probably wanted, and perhaps even tried, to change your body.

So, why is this? Why do we see them as a 'something', an object, to be abused, treated badly, and even fought with. Something that can even determine our level of self worth.

If we think they look good - miraculously we feel good. If we think they look bad - we'll feel bad, but not just about our bodies, our whole selves.

It's not just what we think about our bodies that determines our resulting self worth. Often, if someone tells us we look good, or have lost weight- how we feel about ourselves, for that moment, also changes.

How is it that we can let the internal and external assessment of our body determine how we feel about ourselves? How does it have such a power over our states, physiology and resulting behaviours?

One of the problems is the way that women view themselves as a collection of parts. Our body is separate to our mind. Our physical identity and our self hood are split. This divide often starts when we reach puberty and move from being a girl to being a woman. At this stage we start to become very aware of our bodies, and it is here we start to split 'who we are' away from 'what we look like'.

We lose sight of our totality and look at the individual parts. And our body is made up of lots of little parts, each there to disappoint and embarrass.

Instead of looking at our whole selves - we see individual components, to be judged accordingly.

Now, we don't just do this to ourselves, although we are our own greatest critic. We do this to other women too.

'Did you see her arms? She should not have been wearing that top.'

'Wow she really squeezed herself into those trousers.'

Forget that she's a warm, loving woman - she had the audacity to show off her cleavage when it isn't as perfect as the Ideal woman's!

It's ridiculous. But we're all guilty of it. And it makes us miserable. And the media and women themselves are to blame.

We need to stop judging and start accepting. Stop looking for fault, inadequacies, imperfections and start seeing and appreciating ourselves, and others, as a whole. A body, mind and spirit working together to create the wonderful, unique you.

Now this isn't easy. Looking a certain way has become more important than cultivating our 'selves', who we really are on the inside.

It has to start with Understanding. What are you body's natural tendencies and what do your genes mean for it.

Second comes Acceptance. Everybody's body is different. Unique. Beautiful. There is no perfect.

Thirdly, learn to Love your body. Love it because it is serving you. You have a body for a reason. And this reason is not to win admiration from others. It's not to make other people feel bad about themselves, or to make you feel bad about yourself. Your body serves a purpose. It is built to house who you are. Built to keep you alive, to enable you to carry children, to help you to cultivate your mind and your soul.

Fourthly, you need to learn that You Are Not Your Body. Your body is the wrapping paper. And those who are worthy of knowing you get to peel it off to discover the gift of you inside.

An exercise I would give you to start this process is to start to consciously understand your body.

What makes it feel good / bad?

What does it like / hate?

As you go through your day, notice and pay attention to what your body is doing and telling you. With this understanding, begin to accept that this is your body. Stop fighting it and learn to live with it and love it.

Then write down all the things you love about your body. Write down all the things it does for you. From giving you an orgasm to repairing itself. Spend some time thinking about how incredible it is.

Finally write down all the words you would use to describe who you are. Ensure that none of these words have anything to do with your body, what you look like or what other people think of you. And from this list - look at how all these amazing words describe you, and not your body.

As soon as you begin to realise that you are not your body you will find your self consciousness evaporate. You will feel empowered and your sense of self worth and self-esteem, no longer dependent upon how you think you look, will sky-rocket and you will be free. Free from the constraints of your own judgements, scrutiny and divide. Free to focus on who you are and what you want. Free to be whole again.