“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S. Lewis
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
When I was growing up, I never felt beautiful. When I looked in the mirror, I was disappointed. I longed for different features, clearer skin and thicker hair.
I don’t think I’m alone. Everyone I know is critical of some aspect of their appearance. This seems to be the human way- we are always looking for ways to perfect ourselves.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had some powerful conversations with many different women in my life: my mother, my mother-in-law, my sisters, my sisters-in-law, and my friends. We have been talking about what makes us feel beautiful.
I’ve been wondering, have we been conditioned to feel more beautiful when we are happy, relaxed and at ease, perhaps after meditation or a yoga class? Or have we been conditioned to feel more beautiful when we are dressed up, with our hair and make up done? Or have we been conditioned to feel beautiful when we receive a compliment from someone? Nearly everyone said that they felt most beautiful with make up and hair done.
The answer to this is very important, because it affects how we view ourselves now, and how we will continue to view ourselves as our lives unfold.
PUT ON YOUR ARMOUR
I think a lot of people consider themselves to be beautiful when they most closely resemble a cultural ideal of beauty. When women have their hair done, a fake tan, a face of make up and a new outfit, it is almost like we have put on our armour to step out into the world. We create layers between us and everyone else so we can feel strong and powerful. Similarly, men train and go to the gym in order to have chiselled bodies as their armour. When we are invested in our armour, we judge the armour of everyone else. If we see beauty as being limited to our appearance and manufactured outside of ourselves, we will be more likely to connect the feeling of beauty with the use of new products and techniques.
I’m fascinated by our desire to improve our appearance at any cost. National statistics are not collected in Australia for cosmetic surgery or botox, but if news stories, magazine articles and anecdotes are anything to go by, it is definitely on the rise. And this isn’t just women- men apparently use cosmetic surgery and botox as much as women.
Rather than investing in our armour, I believe that we all need to work on feeling beautiful in ourselves. This is about walking the path of unconditional inner love.
If I was to go out and get botox, I wouldn’t love myself any more. If I was to go out and get breast implants, I wouldn’t love myself any more. When I get my hair done, I don’t love myself any more.
People get these things done in an attempt to discover self-love.
We mistakenly believe that if we look beautiful, then we will feel beautiful, and then we will love ourselves enough to be happy.
It works the other way around.
If we practice loving ourselves unconditionally, then we will feel beautiful. And if we genuinely feel beautiful, we will radiate beauty. When we love ourselves, the opinions and judgments of other people become irrelevant.
So here are 3 tips for learning unconditional self-love:
1. Stand in front of the mirror and say ‘I love you’ enough times for it to mean something.
2. Make a list of 5 reasons why you are lovable.
3. When you have spare moments (walking down the street, on public transport or driving in the car) repeat the mantra, ‘I am beautiful. I feel beautiful.’
It is fascinating to see how our approach to beauty shifts once we begin the practice of self-love. I am walking the path of self-love and it definitely makes a huge difference to the beauty I see in myself and others.