I’m a huge proponent of loving oneself unconditionally. I even wrote a series on the subject last month. Personally it’s been a long and painful journey for me to reach a place where the inner critic isn’t gnawing away at my sanity anymore. In the past every thought, word, action and decision I made was guided by one motivation: approval from someone else.
If I scored well in school it was in the hope that my parents would approve
If I chose a product design over another it was in the hope that my boss would approve
If I wore a pretty dress, it was in the hope that my boyfriend would approve
If I sang a song it was in the hope that the listeners would approve
It was exhausting.
I had no inner compass to guide me through life and I often felt I was falling into a dark bottomless abyss untethered, lost and completely confused.
A lot had changed for me since then.
Now I’m (mostly) guided by an inner joy and wisdom that seem to (mostly) unshakably steer me through life.
I feel (mostly) grounded, loved and very valued. Not by a person or a few people but by life itself. By myself. By the Universe.
It’s been a good place to operate from.
I say (mostly) because the other day when I went shopping and in the harsh glaring lights of the changing room I saw the back of my legs. Spidery green veins were making their way up my calves all the way to the bottom of my bum.
Holy f**king crap.
My immediate reaction was panic mixed with damage control: “I’m sure I can do something about this!. I’m going to start working out tomorrow and make my legs all smooth and clear.”
Oh no. Here we go again.
When does the self-loathing stop? When can we look at ourselves in the mirror or away from it and really say: everything is perfect and lovable.
I don’t know. I really don’t. But this quick and hasty reaction in self-loathing made me introspect and look at a few things:
Who sets the standards?
Where did I learn that legs need to be free of cellulite and spider veins? All those ads. Right. So Kate Moss’ airbrushed legs have been talking to me. Urging me to grow by another 12 inches, starve myself and strive for this hopelessly impossible standard of perfection. I don’t own a TV or purchase celebrity magazines and yet, here I was, sold out to the unrealistic ideal of beauty. I can’t even imagine what young girls have to endure. Here’s a really great post by Yogini Liz Arch: The Real Unphotoshopped Me
What purpose does that body part really serve?
My legs are not supposed to ooze sex. They have a different job. They keep me mobile. They help me experience life by taking me from point A to point B. They help me hike up mountains and feel the warmth of the sand when I stroll on the beach. They help me keep balance in life. When I dance with joy, it is my legs that make that expression possible.
There is no getting off this path
Sometimes I get complacent and think I’ve got my shit together and can stop now…but stop what? Being aware, being grateful, being loving and kind towards myself and others? There is no stopping on this journey. There will be countless triggers where that inner critic will rear her ugly head and spew venom into my being. I’m not sure she ever goes away. But I do know what makes her voice small and insignificant: love, meditation, celebrating life, creativity, doing what’s important, giving gratitude…
How do you feel about your legs or other body parts?
Do you look in the mirror and feel dismal?
What is the one thing you can do right now to improve this relationship with your body?
Image credit: Not Salmon