We see what we perceive rather than the truth of what is.
Have you done this...
You're looking through photos from years gone by, and you're amazed, even gobsmacked, at how beautiful (f) / handsome (m) you were when you were younger?
And the thing that amazes you most is that, at the time when the photos were taken, you thought you were ugly, fat, unattractive?
And now that you look at those very same photos, you are shocked to see just how untrue that was?
And did you, or have you, wasted years looking in the mirror thinking you are fat, ugly, unlovable, unworthy of love?
Throughout my teenage years, and in my 20's and 30's, any time I saw a photo of myself, or looked in the mirror, I genuinely thought I was fat and ugly. I remember looking in the mirror at the age of 15 and telling myself that I was an 'ugly witch'. And I really meant it.
So why is that the perception of what we see does not match the reality of who we are?
Because as the saying goes, 'the map is not the territory'.
We see what we perceive rather than the truth of what is.
We see a reflection of how we feel inside, rather than what we look like on the outside (bearing in mind that 'beauty' is a subjective term anyway, and often created from a societal expectation of what beauty should look like).
Now, in my 50's, when I look at pictures of myself in my 20's, I am truly stunned that I could not see back then what I quite clearly see now. I was stunning. And I was no-where near fat. For goodness sake, I was a size 10 (European, not USA!).
So why is this? Why did I have such a distorted 'picture' of myself.
Because back then I despised myself.
I didn't know it, but I did.
Looking in the mirror and criticizing myself was my mind's unconscious strategy of self-rejection and self-deprecation.
So why on earth would I (or any sane person) do this?
Because deep down in my unconscious I didn't believe I was worthy. I didn't believe I was deserving of love. I thought I was a bad person. I didn't know it, but this was the truth of how I felt. And those hidden feelings manifested as self-criticism and self-rejection.
This is how it is for anyone who has 'body dysmorphia' issues. This is why anorexic people will look in the mirror and honestly, in their eyes, think they look fat and ugly. Because they really do. To put it bluntly, it's a big mind f**k. The mind is playing massive tricks on us.
So how do we get to experience such low self-value, self-esteem, self-love?
It's quite simple really.
If we have experienced any of the following, we are likely to create negative, limiting, distorted, unconscious beliefs about ourselves:
What are the consequences of such beliefs?
We will create habits of thinking and behaving to match those beliefs.
We will put ourselves down, criticize ourselves, compare ourselves, degrade ourselves, ie, harm ourselves mentally and emotionally, sometimes even physically.
We are also likely to create unhealthy habits such as seeking approval from others, comparing ourselves with others, pushing ourselves too hard, and neglecting our own emotional and physical needs.
We are also likely to have a habit of tolerating unfair or inappropriate treatment from family, partner, bosses, colleagues, and we will find it difficult to create healthy boundaries. We will find it difficult to say no to others and yes to ourselves.
The list of how we will continue to perpetuate our rock-bottom self-esteem is long... until we decide we are worthy of love, and we'll do whatever it takes to turn this around:
No more putting ourselves down and neglecting our needs...
No more tolerating unacceptable behaviour from others...
No more buying into false beliefs of unworthiness...
The first step in the solution, as with any personal growth endeavours, is to recognize we have a problem, because we can't change what we don't acknowledge.
We have to recognize ('re-cognize') that:
As soon as we commit to change, the answers on how to do so will come towards us in unforseen and unexpected ways. We'll hear of the right course to take, the right therapist to see, the ideal workshop to attend.
Then it's up to us to follow the signs and get stuck in with the change. For this to work we're going to need guidance from people who have already walked the path, know the pitfalls, have a roadmap and strategies to guide you skillfully and safely up the mountain.
This type of transformation doesn't happen overnight. It's a life-long quest. There will be ups and downs, but if we persevere we will make it.
We will re-grow self-love, self-appreciation, self-esteem, self-value, self-belief, self-confidence - all the healthy stuff we wanted all along but never had, because it was never modelled to us in the first place as a child.
We will grieve for the time we spent rejecting ourselves, criticizing ourselves, putting ourselves down, hating ourselves. And then we will forgive ourselves, and with our new-found authentic self-love and self-appreciation we will love ourselves inside and out, no matter what. We will discover unconditional love, for ourselves, others and everything in life.
And then we will be grateful for all the lessons, no matter how tough they were. Because we will have found our authentic self, and no-one can ever take that away.
Emotional Empowerment - learn to love yourself, put yourself first without feeling guilty, stop tolerating unfair treatment and unhappy life circumstances and more.
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