Wouldn't it be interesting to take a bit of advice from someone who truly embodies inner confidence - and is clearly at total peace with her physical form? That's exactly why I asked my dear friend Shelly Burton, an internationally acclaimed Energy Medicine Woman, to share her thoughts on all things "body image". Her answers are not simply personal reflections - they are practical steps to healing and owning more love for yourself. You're in for a treat with this read...
1. As a healer, what do you most often detect as the deep rooted reason behind most people's insecurities, as it relates to their physical bodies?
If we don’t feel accepted or loved for who we are, we look for reasons to explain why. In a consumer culture that bombards us of images of celebrities telling us what we are supposed to look like, and that sets unrealistic (and often unhealthy) beauty standards, it’s easy to look to our physical body to explain the reason why we don’t feel accepted or loved.
“If I just looked different, they would love or accept me.”
Often times this critical voice operates in the background, as the subconscious mind. Its thoughts are so automatic — running our decisions from behind the scenes — that we don’t even realize we are having them.
Being literally criticized for your appearance by your caregivers, friends or extended community, would only reinforce that if you looked different people would love you more. This conditioning can also be subtle. It can be learned when people compliment (or show love to) you more when you look a certain way. This can sound like “you look pretty today” when all dolled up, instead of “you are a beautiful person” — when dolled up and when you’re not. We are smart, and adapt our behaviour to secure more love. If we think altering our appearance will get us more love, we might start doing this in an attempt to meet our emotional needs. In this way, altering physical appearance is an attempt to find emotional security: stable access to love. Insecurity around the body or physical appearance simply reflects an experience growing up of not feeling stable acceptance as who we where, as we were, in our physical selves.
The truth is, your physical body or appearance isn’t the reason you didn’t feel enough love or acceptance. I’m really sorry that your experience growing up taught you this might be the case. I’m sorry the people around you didn’t know that they deserved love and acceptance as they were, and so unconsciously passed this pain or conditioning onto you.
Your body, and all aspects of you, are beautiful, and deserve love and acceptance as they are — equally, in all their forms.
2. How do we begin to love ourselves - our whole selves, including all of our "imperfections" in our physical forms?
We begin healing by claiming that we deserve love and acceptance, equally, in all our forms. The medicine is to live in alignment with this principle; to embody it.
In terms of an actual healing process, you can start with naming the emotion of insecurity or fear of that you won’t be loved or accepted by others, as you are. To know that it’s totally normal to have that fear, if you didn’t experience being loved and accepted as you were growing up. To know that it makes sense to fear that your body is the reason for a lack of love or acceptance, if you were taught to believe (through the media and/or comments on appearance) that you would receive more if you looked a certain way.
Next, deeply love, embrace and apologize to the part of you that didn’t learn tha