I live in Beverly Hills, California where looking good is the number one pastime. I can't imagine a place where more money is spent on hair, makeup, nails and clothing, and that's just on pets. Seriously, though, the amount of time, effort and treasure put into our outsides is nothing short of astounding. That's why when I read Sunny Gold's recent piece called, "We Don't Just Need A Body Image Revolution, We Need An 'Aging Image' One!," I had to smile. Sunny is a beautiful young woman who is looking inward instead of outward to change a woman's image. Her focus is on the beauty of meaning.
The same is true for Arianna Huffington, who leads the charge of many causes, including one for natural beauty, and looking deeper than the surface of her latest wrinkle. Her focus is on the beauty of meaning.
As one who has overcome an eating disorder, I have had to recognize that I was so much more than a body. I had to find my connection to something from deep within if I was going to flourish. As long as I continued to look outside for self-validation and therefore meaning, not only was I at the mercy of others, the fickleness of taste and changing tide of trends, but also without a compass by which to steer.
Like so many of us, I had done everything and anything I could to distract myself from myself. We use addictions, compulsions, TV, work and yes, even wrinkles. We'll try anything to distract ourselves, because if we don't, we come face to face with not only our being alone, but also our fear that we are somehow impotent and therefore incapable of making things any better. We become stuck in the mud or our own helplessness (the wrinkles) and hopelessness (ridiculously expensive potions that don't work or Botox).
Here are three suggestions that helped me to find meaning inside and escape the tyranny of wrinkles (think Sharpe):
1. There is nothing wrong with me. Each and every one of us is not only unique; we also possess everything we need to make a success out of our lives. I know it may not always appear that way, but to think otherwise is to believe that God plays favorites, giving some "lucky" souls more than they can use and others, less than they need. It also feeds beliefs of hopelessness, helplessness and victimhood.
The truth of our strength is in what we have already overcome and that we are searching for new and better ways to manage our lives. You have already taken the first steps (which are always the most difficult) by reading this far and not giving up. The next step is just one more step and the one following that. In fact, right now is probably a great time to celebrate your last victory, no matter how long ago or recent, by doing something nice and healthy for yourself.
2. My body is not my enemy -- it is my teacher. Your body is invariably right and will tell you what is right for you, as long as you are willing to listen. The next time that little voice that is trying its best to move you in a more healthy direction speaks, pay attention. In fact, I found out that the more attention I paid to it, the more it offered great suggestions at exactly the right time.
3. What we fight holds on tight. As the Borg from Star Trek have told us on many occasions, "Resistance is futile." Our minds are put together in such a way that what we pay attention to, it pays attention to, positive or negative. If we focus on the positive, so does it. If we focus on the negative, so does it. The choice is fully ours.
For those of you who use affirmations (or are planning to), I offer the following hint: Always state them positively, as in "I am growing more healthy everyday," instead of "I will no longer eat unhealthy foods." Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative. And don't mess with Mister-In-between.