I’m a firm believer in the concept that thoughts create our reality. I see it everywhere in my life and in the lives of those I know and love. But there was always one place in which I struggled to connect this idea of thoughts manifesting as reality: my physical appearance.
Like many women, I struggled with deep insecurities about the way I looked. I was intensely ashamed of my weight, my skin, my facial features and my hair. If I had been a fairy tale character, it would have been the male protagonist from Beauty and the Beast.
How, I wondered, had I manifested this perceived ugliness? I didn’t remember feeling unattractive or thinking about myself as unattractive until after I had gained all the weight and started my twenty-year battle with acne. So where did it all come from?
As I continued to explore this issue, I had a profound realization: I had very deliberately designed this “ugly” physical appearance in response to what happened to me in seventh grade. At 12 years old, I had zipped into puberty, developing C-cup breasts practically overnight, and the boys at my schooled took notice. Every day, I was sexually harassed, bullied and sometimes assaulted.
By the time summer rolled around, there was one thing I knew with complete certainty: Being beautiful was dangerous. My beauty made me vulnerable, and prevented me from being able to protect my very precious body. The people I saw who were safe from this incessant, invasive attention were girls who were overweight or struggling with skin problems.
That’s when I realized that, although I had not been conscious of what I was doing at the time, I had, indeed, been very deliberate about creating the physical appearance that made me feel so bad about myself.
As I have worked to redesign my physical appearance, I’ve discovered five important steps in the process of thinking yourself beautiful:
- Find your trigger.
For some of you, the memory of the moment in which you decided you were unattractive will be easy to spot. But for those of you like me, it may have been triggered in a more unusual way. Dig deep and figure out what it was, exactly, that got you to this point.
- Pinpoint the fear.
What’s the fear behind your trigger? For me, it was the feeling that I could not be in charge of what happened to my body if others thought I was beautiful. My experience had taught me that beauty meant I had no control over my circumstances.
Are you worried that being perceived as beautiful will undermine your credibility or intelligence at work? Are you afraid of unwanted attention? Are you afraid that you aren’t worthy of being seen?
Figure out exactly what your fear is. Write it down and be very specific about what you think might happen to you if you felt beautiful.
- Invite the fear to a spirit summit.
Sit down with an open mind and journal a conversation with your fear. Gently question its accuracy. How likely is it that your feared scenarios will play out?
Bring your spiritual practice to the table. “Introduce” your fear to your higher power. Ask your higher power to hold the fear for you and listen for guidance.
Ask your higher power to take control of this situation. No matter what your fears are surrounding your physical appearance, control is a major issue for all of us.
You cannot control what other people think of your appearance. You cannot control (for the most part) what assumptions other people make about you based on your appearance. And you certainly cannot control other people’s behaviors.
However, recognizing how little control you have doesn’t have to inspire or fuel your fear. Surrendering, like many spiritual principles, is a divine paradox. You may give up exterior control, but that surrendering allows you to put more strength and focus behind the only thing you can control: your responses to your circumstances.
- Be willing to see things differently.
Once you begin to surrender your fears and anxieties about your physical appearance, you can make room for willingness – willingness to open your heart, to see yourself differently and to allow your body to respond with physical changes.
You may find yourself losing weight. You may find your skin healing. You may find yourself feeling lighter, brighter and more confident.
If you find yourself falling into self-sabotaging behaviors as your appearance changes, don’t lose sight of the enormity of what you are doing. You are daring to confront some of your deepest fears and allow yourself to be seen as you want to be seen. It takes enormous courage to do this.
Simply go back to step one and keep repeating this process, over and over again. Each time, you will discover more about yourself, uncovering pockets of light within your soul that you may have not even realized existed.
And what could be more beautiful than that?
Yancy Lael is the author of the indie self-help hit, Glowing: Soulful Skincare and a novel, The Poison Box, as well as the creator of She Came Into Focus, a deeply intuitive course that explores women’s self-image through the mediums of storytelling and photography. You can connect with her at www.yancylael.com or on Facebook.