For years, before each meal, I would lift my shirt a couple of inches and scrutinize my belly to see if I “deserved” my food.
I would weigh myself every morning, and if I didn’t like the number, I would do 50 pushups before I took a shower and see if I could sweat off a fraction of a pound at least. And if I couldn’t, I was likely to skip at least one meal out of three that day.
“A Course in Miracles" defines the “holy instant” as the moment you shift fear into love. Anything that is not love—anger, jealousy, insecurity, sadness—comes from a place of fear, and is therefore not love. And anything that is not love, the Course says, is not real.
Your perception of your body, and others’ perceptions of your body, aren't real. It does not exist.
If you can understand your perception of your body is not “the truth,” you can let it go and turn your attention to the truth.
So what is the truth?
Consider this: If you stand in front of me, I can clearly see what you look like. But if I remove my contact lenses and look at you from the same spot, you look like nothing but a blurry blob to me. How can that be? If what you look like represents reality, how can I so easily have changed it?
Or you can think of it this way: Imagine a man and a woman madly in love. You look at the couple and notice that the woman is not unattractive, but maybe to you she is kind of plain. But to the man who loves her, she is the most beautiful creature on Earth. If what that woman looks like is reality, how can he see her so differently than you can?
There were pictures circulating on the Internet not long ago of Cindy Crawford. The photos are untouched, un-Photoshopped images. The pictures were published online to supposedly to show us that this is Cindy’s reality and that she is beautiful despite the untouched photos.
But these photos are just as untrue as the touched-up photos. All photos of Cindy Crawford are untrue; they’re just perceptions. How to do you get to the truth of Cindy Crawford? Well, you call her, you invite her out for a latte, sit and talk and have a few laughs, and then you just might see the real Cindy.
The parts of her beautiful soul that she shows you, that’s the truth—no photograph can capture or show that.
So if, like me, you have wasted your time, emotions, thoughts, and efforts on how you look and finding fault with it, you’ve been obsessing on something that does not exist in reality.
What you look like, to you or anyone, is never the truth. Can you accept that you are not your body? That your body is merely where the real you resides? If you can, you will understand that the imperfections of your body and everyone else’s bodies don’t matter anymore.
And I don’t mean never look in the mirror. By all means, get a nice haircut, wear clothes you love, but don’t let how you look get in the way of your truth. Don’t let how you look distract you from being what you truly are: a loving spirit, meant to shine.
Your human form is a gift.
If someone bought you a brand-new car, you likely would not say, “Bleh. Thanks, but an Accord? I’d prefer a Jeep.” No, you’d say, “Thank you! What a beautiful, generous gift! Now I can go anywhere I want to go!”
Your body is the car you were given at birth to move your soul around this world. It’s going to get dinged up and it’s going to get old. But it’s getting you to the places you need to go, so you can show up where you need to and bring your real self.
When I understood this, I began to shift each time I had an unwanted and unloving thought about my body. This is different from affirmations. Affirmations can often be helpful, but when dealing with body image, let's be honest—affirmations can feel like bullshit.
You can say over and over again, “I am beautiful” but if you actually believe the opposite, you just feel like you’re fibbing. Instead, I urge you to go deeper into truth.
I notice every uncool thought about my body, then shift it by thinking, “I want to see reality. I am willing to see my spirit instead of the illusion.” Sometimes I need to only do it once. Sometimes I need to do it for an hour. But it always shifts to truth.
Be willing to see your reality, beautiful.
Image credit: Aneta Gab