You are more than a body
Susie is the ultimate cool-girl from the late nineties. Her short messy bob is colored cobalt blue, and for a 14-year old, she looks very mature: her breasts are full, and her whole body looks like that of a grown woman. Wearing only black, she looks hip and stylish. I find her fascinating and develop an instant girl-crush on her. I secretly want to be like her.
When we come home from that Tanzania-trip where I first met Susie, I want nothing more than her blue hair. Somehow I believe that her hair-color will bring me closer to her. My mom tries to help, but in our small town, not even her hairdresser friend can fix it. I never get blue hair.
What fascinates me though is how much I believed that blue hair would make me look cooler, more popular, and more attractive; especially to the swarthy boy whom I wanted to date. He liked me the way I was but I believed that I wasn't good enough until I had Susie's blue hair.
For as long as I remember, I had built my self-esteem around my physical body
Hair, clothes, weight. It all matters so much. I look into the mirror and examine every little freckle, pimple, white hair. When I first discovered bumps on my butt and tiny purple spider veins on my legs, I was crushed. How could I not be?
The media is constantly bombarding us with glossy images of perfect bodies, the latest fashion trends, and a vast assortment of beauty products promoting the promise of eternal youth.
The underlying idea is that you are a body and because it’s not perfect, you need to work hard to optimize it. So they like you… you should eat a Paleo diet, go online shopping, run 10K each day.
These messages are toxic. Just to clarify, I'm not saying that it's wrong to eat healthily, work out, or wear beautiful clothes. I do all that myself. Self-care is excellent, and it can make you feel when it comes from right-mindedness.
But subtle suggestions such as "your body is not good enough" are poisoning the minds of millions of women (and increasingly more men) worldwide, instilling fear, feeding insecurity, and growing self-doubt.
Feelings of powerlessness and unworthiness are the results of years of brainwashing
Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram for even just ten minutes can still propel me into a state of mild depression. Twenty-something models and influencers with perfect thighs and tiny waists are everywhere. There seems to be a whole army of perfect people on the internet, and it makes me feel fat, ugly, and old.
Forgetting can happen so fast. As soon as I believe in these flashy images and place value in them, I get lost. I slide down a slippery slope of comparison and self-defeat.
What to do? Delete all social apps, no longer buy magazines, and never look at a catalog? Hardly.
Humans are social creatures, and we are influenced by each other's behavior
Psychologists call this social proof. The more people have something, the more we want it. We are herd animals, so we look toward others for guidance. The problem is that nobody really knows what they're doing--we're all clueless, trying to find our way in the dark.
Most of us are working it from the outside in: we assume that once we get the perfect fitness body, trending hairstyle, or expensive capsule wardrobe, then we'll be happy. For years, I used to fall into that kind of thinking myself.
It works for a while. I lose weight, and friends comment on how skinny I look. As if! Can't you see how much weight I still have to lose? I join a gym and get toned and muscular. People take notice. Sure, I may have muscles, but I still have so much body fat left! My lover showers me with hugs and kisses, but the thoughts are saying something else. He won't always be here. Prepare to be abandoned again.
And yet, it’s easy to forget about love and tune into Anxiety FM. No matter how many self-help books I read, I still believe that negative voice in my head. (Although it’s gotten less frequent now.) Most of us do.
Your attention is precisely what the ego wants
It loves to keep you in the endless rat-race of chasing physical perfection. For the ego, it will never be enough.
Remember, the ego is the small, separated part of your mind that thinks you are an individual person living in a separate body. It is obsessed with the body because this is where it finds its sole purpose and identity.
Its whole survival strategy depends on your identification with your body, and the ego is obsessed with its survival. When the body dies, the ego will go with it. End of the story, the ego tells you.You'll be gone and forgotten.
Is this the reason why so many people today are obsessed with greatness, needing to feel that they matter?
The ego cannot stand to feel insignificant or unimportant. It will do anything it can to make you believe in it and do like it commands.
The good news is that the ego isn't even that real. It wants you to believe in it by reminding you that you are a body. And the whole world joins into the chorus. This is how it gets its power.
When you're convinced that you're *only* a body and nothing more, you can get anxious and depressed pretty quickly.
A pandemic, a car accident, a fire.
There’s danger all around. The body can never be 100% safe. It will inevitably age and die. It is not where you will find eternal life, peace, and contentment.
But you are so much more than a body!
You are Spirit. Love. Eternity. Call it God, but it's really beyond words
When you begin to feel that you are part of, one with, and forever connected to a loving Universe, you begin to feel less anxious. Safer. More peaceful. You stop obsessing over your fading body and find your real homecoming within.
Knowing and allowing yourself to feel how much you are loved by the Universe is what gives you that feeling of belonging, love, and appreciation you so much long for, and that's so fleeting and evanescent in the physical realm.
To help you remember who you really are, God has planted a guide into your mind. This small, still voice within reminds you of your actual reality as an infinite being, one with God, never having left its real home.
The sole purpose of your inner guide is to help you wake up and come back to love so that you do not have to be scared anymore.
Trust that small, still voice within
Pay attention. Listen to it. Over time, it will get louder and more precise. Question the fearful voice of the ego-mind. Don't let it bully you. See it for what it is--an illusion made real in your mind.
Here's a mantra to help you remember this. Whenever you can today, repeat to yourself this simple statement from A Course In Miracles:
I AM NOT A BODY. I AM FREE.
It will help you shift your perspective from body-identification to spirit-identification, so you can feel more ease, belonging, and contentment, as you’re held in the loving arms of the Universe.
And then what?
Maybe you still want blue hair or get fitter. You can still play with your body and enjoy the world. That’s what it’s for--your exploration. The only difference is that now, you’re no longer hoping that blue hair will save you or bring you a deep feeling of lasting love, happiness, and belonging.
PS: Did you like this story? Then you'll love my Self-Love for Wise Women course. It teaches you exactly how to discern between the voice of fear and the voice for love in your mind so that you no longer feel controlled by anxiety but confident, content, and comfortable in your own skin, safe in the knowledge that you are so much more than just a body.