What does it mean to “take up space”?
I’ve heard this phrase over and over in recovery. But until recently, I never appreciated what it meant or how important it is to when recovering from an eating disorder.
So, what does it even mean?
In the most literal sense- taking up space means allowing your body to be full, large, and present.
It is the opposite of shrinking away. When we take up space, we are visible and seen. There is no blending in or hiding.
Diet culture silently but powerfully tricks us into falsely believing that the less space we take up, the more valuable we are. This strips us of our power and keeps us in diet mentality while preventing us from living fully and joyfully.
By feeding and nurturing our bodies, we allow them to take up space in exactly the way they were meant to. That shape and size looks different for everyone.
It’s only when we choose to declare peace with our body and no longer fight its natural shape that we can experience true, lasting recovery.
In it’s most basic sense, we allow our body to take up as much space as it needs with out placing judgement on it. This is a choice we must make not just one time, but constantly, over and over again.
And it is worth it.
Beyond the physical space
Taking up space can be extremely uncomfortable when we inaccurately believe we are not worthy or valuable. We may fear we are too loud, too messy, or simply “too much.”
We can fill space with our bodies, but we can also fill it with our thoughts, feelings, concerns, passions, and needs.
Taking up space means realizing that we are here, on this earth, with a purpose.
We are just as valuable as the stranger sitting next to us on an airplane… Simply because we are.
Our opinions and beliefs are just as valuable as those of our loved ones and those of strangers. Even if we sometimes believe we are inherently flawed and less deserving than others – we don’t have to live in that lie.
Every person on this earth has value, simply because we exist. I am not an exception to this. You are not an exception to this.
Take the power back
When we actually start to believe in ourselves and take up space both literally and figuratively, we start to gain our power back.
This can feel scary, especially in the beginning of recovery. But in order for us to live full, meaningful, joyful lives, we must learn to take up space.
And as we begin taking up space we actually make this space, this world– a better place.
Because every single one of us is unique and has gifts and passions to share with this world. So taking up space is not only helpful for our own recovery but also helpful for this world.
So the next time you feel yourself wanting to disappear or wishing you could sink into yourself and not be seen – I challenge you to remind yourself that you were put here on this earth to take up space. You have a purpose, whether you know what it is yet or not. And your purpose is NOT to shrink.
Remind yourself that by taking up space you are not only empowering yourself to heal, but you are giving yourself to this world. And we need you, warriors.