Making Peace with Your Body Image
By Susan K. Stevenson, DCH(c)



As women of the 90's, we are confronted with a myriad of images, roles, concepts and possibilities. As a whole, we do everything within our reach to look our best, be our best, do our best in the many facets of our lives. We strive to express ourselves in the most confident, positive and graceful manner possible. Yet, to the degree that our outer expression differs from our inner feelings and attitudes, we suffer.

Perhaps the manifestation of this discrepancy, this lack of congruence, shows up as (chronic) fatigue, headaches, PMS, irritability, fear, doubts, stress, substance abuse; the list can be endless. We know intuitively that happiness and joy are an inside job, that beauty truly IS only skin deep, that it is our inner beauty which sustains and nurtures our soul and those we love. So how do we balance the outer and the inner, the expression with the introspection, the body with the soul?

Like it or not, we live in a society which is very 'outer' oriented; we are bombarded by 'perfect' images everywhere we look - billboards, magazines, television, movies ‹ and, somehow we are given ‹ and too often accept - the suggestion that we need to be this perfect if we are to ever gain the happiness we seek. (It has always given me comfort to note that Martha Stewart never seems to take much time for her hair - have you noticed that, too?)

Certainly the profit mongers have a vested interest in all these images and our hunger as a society to appear perfect ‹ they have produced a never-ending supply of cosmetics, surgeries, pills, potions, clothing, and gadgetry (in one day you can visit all of them on the infomercials!). And as long as we have that ache to be what someone else tells us we must be, we will continue giving them our money, searching, desperately perhaps, for the perfect solution.

When we listen carefully to our inner voice, of course, we know all too well that the answer is not 'out there' but simply 'within'. And all those self-help books that line our bookshelves and the endless magazine articles continue to tell us so (you're right - here's another one!). We also know that even through finding our inner beauty, appreciating it and developing it to an even greater degree will never turn me into a Linda Evans or Roseanne into a Kate Moss. The truth is, however, that we spend the vast majority of our attention on outer voices; we need to learn to commune with our inner wisdom and listen to our inner needs. Only then do we balance the inner with the outer.

Best-selling author Sarah Ban Breathnach shares her insights in 'Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy'. If you have not yet experienced this wonderful tableside companion, I invite you to do so. It contains 366 daily helpings of ideas, meditations, and suggestions for bringing and keeping your life in balance. Lest we feel we are the only women who have lived in a culture of 'outer appreciation', consider her March 17th entry about Dame Edith Sitwell who so succinctly said, "If one is a greyhound, why try to look like a Pekinese?" Dame Edith was born in 1887, a time when a woman's beauty was considered her most prized possession, and she definitely stood out in a crowd.

But not in the way you might think, because even as a young girl, Edith was homely, awkward and thin ‹ so much so that her family felt marriage would never be a possibility for her. She felt miserable and alone until a governess wisely introduced her to art and literature, where she absolutely flourished. Falling in love with poetry, she also found and fell in love with her authentic self. Although physical attractiveness was never to be hers, she became quite flamboyant in her striking style of dress and joyfully expressed her authenticity to the world not only in 'decorating' her physical appearance but in the intensely rhythmic patterns and imagery of her poetry.

What have you done lately to discover your hidden assets, gifts, talents and dreams? Do you have a daily routine to communicate with your inner self, your true self, your authentic self? Do you do something everyday that brings you joy? Have you taken inventory lately of your inner thoughts about yourself, your body, your life, your relationships? How much is positive and loving ‹ how much is negative, resentful, or just not what you would like it to be? If you have identified some of these patterns, do you have an adequate process to make the necessary changes?

Over the past two years in offering the Feminine Shape Shifting program to my clients in both workshops and private sessions, one of the most important concepts encountered is the process for creating more positive images and inner dialogue regarding the physical body. It is a considerable stretch of the belief system to some, that women who participate in this program are able to create desirable changes in bustline measurements, waist, hips and/or thighs.

Yet, even more important are the inner changes that take place in self confidence, stress reduction, ability to self-nurture, better sleep, more energy, and enhanced connection with the true inner nature. In observing this, it has become quite clear that these interior-transformational concepts are important to women who may never seek a program that is focused on re-proportioning the figure. But the fact remains that making peace with the body, the body image ‹ creating more harmony within the entire mind/body system ‹ is an essential foundation for whatever our goals might be. With this in mind, the upcoming workshop entitled "Making Peace With Your Body" focuses on this very aspect.

So, I invite you to take that inventory now. Find a quiet spot and write in your journal. (If you don't have a journal, any notebook will do for now.) Begin by asking your inner self, your true and authentic self, what you need to recognize and appreciate more about you. Let those little negative jabs and barbs just float away ‹ those old thoughts about being conceited or self-absorbed ‹ they don't belong in this exercise.

Just begin with three things at first, perhaps. Three things is a wonderful start ‹ three things about you that are positive, loving, creative ‹ three things that you never thought too much about before, or forgot about, or maybe never even recognized were there. If you have more, that's great! Start here, and then everyday look at your list at least once in the morning to start your day and once at night before you go to sleep. Try putting your list on 3 x 5 cards to carry with you. Appreciate yourself, congratulate yourself, pat yourself on the back, hug yourself, look in the mirror and see the loving you that resides within. Miracles can happen when you begin to look for the good and praise it. Begin today. Do it now. Remember how wonderful you really are. You deserve it!

Susan Stevenson, DCH(c) is a Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy, NLP Master Practitioner and Certified Spiritual Counselor. Currently residing in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Susan offers uplifting programs for individuals, groups and businesses, as well as workshops and audio tapes on a variety of life enhancing topics.  For information on any programs, you may contact Dr. Susan by e-mail at: 

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