How To Stop Owning Other People’s “Shit”…


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WARNING: I’m going to use the word “shit” a lot in this piece. I like this word because it gives you a clear image of the steamy pile of issues we’re all dealing with on a daily basis. So, from now on when I say “shit”, what I mean is, issues, past, wounds, hurt, pain, boundaries, belief systems, political perspectives, the sum of personal experiences and the unconscious of our “self” and others. I hope they change the definition for “shit” in the dictionary soon. You will also see me quote “self” a lot in this piece. The reason is because our “self” is all relative. Meaning, that our “self” and how we see it, is in constant flux, the way we identify it and with it is constantly different. So, I put “self” in quotes and separate from “your” and “our” so that you can separate a little from the concept and put “self” into a different perspective. You should read this aloud with your friends and turn it into a drinking game. Take a shot every time I write “self” and “shit”. Oh, and make sure to air quote them in the aloud reading. You’re welcome. Let’s get to it!

We have been told, often times, people and situations we encounter are mirror images of ourselves. It’s been said that the things we see and experience are merely reflections of the sum of our “self” back to us. I agree with this, but I think it’s being misinterpreted. People around us are only reflections of our “self” in the sense of your inner self. So, you need only pay attention to your inner feelings and voice in these interactions to gain insight into your “self”. This is the only true reflection happening. Often times, I believe others have interpreted this to mean that the way others treat you or the things about them that bother you are keys into your own “shit”. This is simply not true, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The reactions, emotions and judgments that others have towards you are plain and simply the sum of their own “shit” (see definition above).

We find our “self” (drink!), owning other people’s “shit” often. If we feel that we’ve hurt someone’s feelings or offended them in some way, we will own that. As children, we are taught to say “I’m sorry” if we have hurt someone’s feelings. So, in that sense we have been programed to own others feelings. Should you be sorry if you hurt others feelings? Well, let’s take a look at the definition of “sorry”.

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In a sense, “sorry” is used to convey how you are feeling about someone else’s “shit”. So, yes, I suppose it’s OK to be sorry for them in that respect and feel for them that they are feeling a certain way. What we do not teach children is the difference between owning your actions and owning others feelings. For example, if Timmy hits Sara over the head with a book, he should be sorry for that action. If Sara is upset because Timmy didn’t notice her new dress, he shouldn’t necessarily be sorry. Those feelings are due to her own experiences, those are her feelings alone to own. Can Timmy be empathetic towards Sara? Sure, and if he ever wants to be successful with women, he should be! So, if Sara is crying because Timmy didn’t notice her dress and expresses this to him between sobs, perhaps instead of saying “I’m sorry” he could say “I empathize with that”.

There is a big difference between owning someone's "shit" and owning your actions, it's important to know the difference. It took me many years to realize this. So, I found myself struggling with friendships and relationships because I was simply taking on too much responsibility for their "shit". You have to allow others to have and own their own "shit" and you need to recognize your own coming up. Can you empathize with them? Yes! One of my favorite lines I love to say is "You don't know their story". If we took the time to understand other's stories, we could recognize when their "shit" comes up better. So, when you come into a situation where you've offended someone or hurt their "feelings", try to understand where they are coming from instead of being "sorry".

Stop Owning Other People’s “Shit”:

1.) Stop being a scientist: It's not your job to dissect someone's response towards you. Stop spinning your wheels wondering WHY they are acting the way they are. If you are sincerely feeling empathetic towards them, ASK them about their feelings. The answer you get may still be blaming, in that instance you can sympathize, but keep in mind that the root of their feelings truly has little to do with you and all to do with their "shit". Let it go!

2.) Recognize the difference between being sorry and being empathetic: You should most certainly make an effort to empathize with someone. To understand their story, to experience those feeling with them and NOT to experience guilt or sorry feelings BECAUSE of their feelings.

3.) Catch and release: When feelings of guilt or sorrow arise from someone's reaction or feelings around you, remind yourself that you cannot own other people's "shit". Ask yourself if you’re simply taking on someone's "shit". Remember sometimes our own "shit" is in fact to take on someone else's "shit". Recognize when it's happening. Catch it quickly, allow it to run its course through your emotions, release it.

4.) Practice: Use uncomfortable situations to practice. Is this truly YOU causing someone to FEEL this way or is it their own "shit"?

5.) Take Breaks: Sometimes, we just need emotional breaks from life to reevaluate. Spend time in nature or with animals. Use this time to reflect on your own "shit". Better understanding our "self" helps us to better understand others. Spending time in situations where we do not have to navigate the reactions of others helps us to put our "self" back into perspective.

6.) Remember: It's not always about you. Most of the time, it's about them.

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How To Hear Your Soul


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I’ve read all the self-help books. I have “creating your own universe” and positive thinking down to a science. What I seem to lack is direction. What do I want to be when I grow up? What can I do, that will sustain me so that I can get out of the rat race for good? I’ve often felt that I am “good” at a lot of things, but not “great” at any one thing; a least, not great enough to be successful at it. However, I’ve had this recent epiphany that everyone has this same line of thinking. Therefore, we are all sitting around working away at our safe 9-5’s banging our heads against the wall waiting to find something we are great at. The good news? While everyone else is waiting to find what their great at, if I simply choose to start acting on what I am “good” at, I’ll be ahead of the pack just by taking action alone. I find that we tend to be our worst critics. So, we hold ourselves back, mostly due to our egos, and we simply settle for being content.

I don’t think we are here to be content. I think we are here to be so full of joy and love that we exude this out to others. I think that each of us is indeed great at something, but we never come to realize it because we are too busy keeping our heads down and berating ourselves. So, I find myself in a peculiar situation. How can I convert,” good” in to great and great into financial independence in order to kiss the rat race goodbye forever? I think the first challenge is the need to start with a huge mind shift away from the external chatter and towards the inner voice of the soul. The hardest part is getting out of your own way long enough to recognize the thoughts and feelings that are truly authentic to your souls needs. Meaning, finding the way to recognize when your ego is driving and your soul is not. How to recognize this? First you need to learn to differentiate between the cry of your soul and the demands of your ego. The ego is very similar to a two year old always wanting their way. It will nag and nag and nag. It will be very loud and very demanding and at times incredibly draining. The ego is hard to please.

What we are looking to hear is the soul. The soul is quiet, it’s patient, and the soul will wait its turn to be heard. It will not demand attention and it will never create discomfort. As human beings, we have been programed to listen to the ego. The ego is the one that buys the expensive car and house, anything it can do to make it feel soothed and noticed. The things the ego wants do not truly make you happy, but instead seek to please the outward. The ego is greedy. It’s unforgiving. In order to drown out the ego and hear the souls true purpose speak to us, we have to take conscious actions to put our best listening ears on. Here are

4 steps to quieting the ego and hearing your souls wish:

1.) Meditation – the best way to quiet the ego is to remove it from situations where it needs to be heard. Put it in situations where being heard is not beneficial. Giving yourself time alone, to quiet the minds chatter, will help you to feel the soul. To hear what it needs.

2.) Mindful Awareness – Create awareness to what you truly desire and let your ego take a backseat. Imagine yourself stranded on a desert island and ask yourself a few key questions that will help you to define if your ego is talking or your soul is reaching out.
• If I were stranded on a desert island, would this still feel good?
• If I were stranded on a desert island, would I still feel the need to own this?
• Would I still feel the need to help others stranded?
• Would I still feel curious about other islands?
• Would I still want the biggest tree house on the block?
• Would I still feel superior if my clothes were less worn than those surrounding me?

Find what feels good to you on your island. Putting your mind in these situations will quiet the ego, in this scenario the egos wants become insignificant because there is simply no use for them.

3.) Write Your Obituary – You read that right. In the end, we all end up in the same place. Questioning our own mortality puts life in a whole new light. It helps us to put into perspective what is important and how we want to be remembered.

4. Begin To Act – Each day over the next 3 months, take one deliberate action towards your souls purpose. Keep a journal to note the changes in your attitude and your body. Note the changes in others around you. Note the changes in the world around you. Note the changes in your meditation, mindful- awareness and at the end of 3 months write a new obituary. If you notice improvement in these things at the end of your 3 months, you’re hearing your soul.

If each of us were less afraid of not being able to achieve greatness by society standards and we began achieving greatness by the standards of our souls, the world would look very different. You would look very different. I encourage you to find your souls voice. Take the 4 step challenge and see where it lands you.

If You Think You’re Pretty


When I was 10 the coolest thing around was the roller skating rink. If “coolest” didn’t show my age I’m sure the skating rink bit did, but then again I’m a slightly out of touch on what’s hip with the kids these days, so maybe cool is still cool. I guess I need to have some kids so I can know what’s cool again even though parenthood inevitably makes me uncool with both my friends and kids alike. The skating rink always smelled of stale popcorn and sweaty teenagers, but I loved it. My mom would take me every weekend for months. Until one of the “punk teenagers” pushed her and she broke both her arms, yes both her arms! My father nearly killed the kid, like seriously. You don’t know my dad. Anyway, getting off topic here. I so desperately wanted to be one of the cool pretty girls. I wanted to dress like them and talk like them and be picked first for the couples skate. Unfortunately, I was a frizzy red headed slightly overweight tragically fashion challenged very loud and awkward little girl. Need more of a visual? You know that little girl in a bumble bee outfit tap dancing for like homeless dudes in the “rain” video by Blind Mellon? Yea. Pretty much like that. Look it up, early 90’s, tragic little girl, just like me. What ever happen to them?

Anyway, None the less, try I did, to fit in with the pretty cool girls. One such desperate attempt to be a cool girl was made up of a plaid skirt, knee high socks and a button down shirt. Maybe I was channeling my inner Britney Spears. Anyways, I clang to the only other girl in the rink near my age thinking strength in numbers. She was a foul mouthed too short for her age gum in chewing confident runt. I wasn’t sure where all that confidence was being created in that bite size little body. We skated into the bathroom where the runt pulled out a small bottle of liquid from her even smaller training bra. She held it to her nose and inhaled “want some?” she asked pushing it into my face. It smelled like my dad on a day he forgot to use deodorant and compensated with what he called “foo foo juice”. I wrinkled my nose and turned away to cough saying “Why would I want that? You know that’s men’s cologne, right?”. The runt started rubbing the cologne on her neck laughing at my ignorance “Yea, I know it’s cologne doofus, I like to smell like men have been all over me”. I decided I was OK with not smelling like men had been all over me, that seemed like something I wasn’t cool enough to pull off and people would just think I’d lost a fight with a skunk. The cool older boy that worked Saturday’s playing music and making announcements came over the loud scratchy speaker “Ok kids, it’s time for snow ball, girls on the left and guys on the right! You know the drill, once around then rink and then grab a new partner”. I nearly fell on my butt as the girls put away their lip gloss and ran screaming out of the bathroom to line up against the wall. I hated snow ball. It was my most dreaded part of the night, I like shoot the duck or fast skate, those only took skill.

Kid

Snow ball took coolness and being pretty and thin. It was kind of a stupid name, I always thought, because it made no sense at all. Now that I am an adult, I think some sick 40 something dude made it up and laughed hysterically at these unknowing teens happily running out to participate in “snow balling” each other. Ew. I just threw up in my mouth a little thinking about that and the scent from the rink came rolling back to me. Anyway, here I am on the wall of shame waiting for anyone to ask me to skate but even the dirty stinky boy passes me up for the girl next to me who puts out her hand without extending her arm and making a face like she was sucking on a lemon. Even the stinky boy passed me up. The runt had already been around the rink with three boys as I stand pathetically against the now empty girl side wall. I think about skating back to the benches, where at least I can appear not to care with the other SMART rejects that didn’t even attempt to stand on the wall. The runt comes over and does some fancy toe turn to rest up against the wall next to me since she was so tired after skating with so many boys. Bitch. Anyway, she goes “Why haven’t you skated with any boys” and I’m like “I dunno, maybe I look silly in my knee high socks, like maybe they only look cool when you’re not in roller skates, or maybe I should have smelled like men have been all over me or maybe…” she finally looked over at me and took a break from making google eyes at the boys passing by. She tilted her head smacking her gum and chewing like a new born cow.

She looked absolutely puzzled by what I was saying and I thought perhaps I needed to explain further my concern with my knee high socks, but she looks at me and starts talking so I don’t get the chance, “If you think you’re pretty, you’re pretty” she said in a high pitch squeal before skating off with boy number four. I felt like I had been hit with a sludge hammer. I repeated what she said to me, out loud, as she faded into the dark strobe lights of the romantic snow ball skate. “If I think I am pretty, I am pretty?” I asked out loud. What the hell does that mean? What do my socks and my scent have to do with how pretty I am? Until that moment it actually legitimately didn’t occur to me that anything like that would factor into how pretty I was. Not only did these things not factor in, but being pretty never even really occurred to me. Like, sure the boys weren’t asking me to skate, but it legitimately never occurred to me that it had anything to do with whether I was pretty or not. So, I rolled my silly socks down, turned my back to the rink and decided I was pretty. I decided I thought I was pretty that night, then I didn’t care if anyone asked me to skate. It’d just discovered this major secret, that I was pretty. So, I starred at the wall through the whole Whitney Houston song and counted the lines, for each line I repeated, “I’m pretty”. Seriously, I was 10 and this actually happened.

So, here I am feeling really good about myself and doing positive affirmation (before I knew what that was) and do you know what happened? Actually. Nothing. No one asked me to skate, but I strolled off that skate deck like I was a model on a run way and I did not give a shit. That felt really good. So, maybe it didn’t matter if a boy asked me to skate. In fact, I didn’t even bother getting up for the next “Snow Ball” skate. I waited until the skilled skating challenges and I won a trophy. I wish I could say that night changed my life. I wish I could tell you I didn’t struggle with eating disorders or seeking unhealthy attention, but I can’t. All I can say is, when I think back on that night, I think about the life long struggle I have had to get where I am today and that is empowering. One day, I hope I can meet a frizzy red headed slightly overweight tragically fashioned challenged very loud and awkward little girl and tell her “own that shit”. Because one day, none of this will matter and the fact that you are brilliant like no other will matter. I’ve had my fair skates with boys now that I am an adult, and it’s not all that great. Although, the affirmations followed me through life, so I guess I have something to thank that little smells like lots of men runt for.

Take A Compliment. Because It Was GIVEN to you.


I kicked ass today. I got up in front of a room full of people gave a presentation on a topic I don’t even fully understand myself and kicked ass. Afterwards, I had several people come up to me and compliment me on my vast knowledge on the topic in such a short period of time and professional presence. I work with some really smart people. Smarter than a lot of people. I work with doctors and scientist and engineers. I should have been totally stoked to get those compliments from such a group amazing intellectuals. I should have known myself that walking into a room with minds like that and impressing them was a huge feat. You know what I did instead? I shrugged it off. I got insecure. I joked. “Oh, I was faking it most of the time” or “did you really not notice I had no idea what I was talking about!? Whew!” and “well, I’m not curing cancer like you guys, but I get something once in a while”.

As I’m batting these compliments off like mosquitos it suddenly occurred to me that I’ve been encouraged to be modest my entire life by society. We’ve been taught that it’s not lady like to take a compliment. Think about the movies: “Wow, that sure is a nice dress” to which the young lady would reply “Oh, this old thing”? Now, I am curious, what about not taking a compliment makes you modest? I think it actually makes you slightly rude and annoying. Just keep in mind that I am talking about my most recent actions too before you get defensive. We’re just dissecting this thing together. So, I thought about when I give someone a compliment, women in particular and I thought about how they react. For example “wow, have you lost weight? You look amazing in that outfit!” to which the reply was, “no and I really need to loose like 10 pounds, you haven’t seen me sit down in this, my stomach just rolls up and it looks awful. Watch I’ll show you”. She was so determined not to take a compliment she even took physical action to show me wrong. It felt like she didn’t hear me or maybe she just couldn’t. Either way, I found myself feeling awkward and at a loss of what to say next. The conversation is different when someone takes the gift of the compliment you have given them. For example “Wow, you did such a great job on that project” to which they replied “Thank you, I worked really hard on it”. That was a smooth conversation that ended with a smile instead of a confused look wondering what to say next.

You see, the thing about compliments is that they are given to you. You are supposed to graciously accept them not refuse them. They are gifts, that is why they are given and not just stated. Have you ever heard the phrase “paid you a compliment”? That’s because they feel you are “worthy” of receiving it, they are recognizing your worth and therefore paying you a compliment. You in turn are supposed to accept this for a job well done. You wouldn’t turn your check back into your boss insisting that you were not worth the pay, you should not give their paid compliments back either. So, now that I have caught myself I have made an active effort to grit my teeth and reply to my compliments with a Julia Roberts smile and a great big confident “thank you!”. I hope that you will join me in accepting the recognition of others and in congratulating yourself on your own self-worth. Otherwise, you’re just making everyone stand around awkwardly trying to figure out what to say next. Because ultimately, confidence is always sexier than meek modesty any day.

Accept The Fact You’re Already Dead


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You have already begun to die. At this moment you’re closer to death than you are to life. Each and every day you die a little more. Perhaps you should just accept the fact that you’re already dead. When sick patients receive the news that they are terminally ill with limited time to live, suddenly the world becomes their playground. Sometimes, they even have their wildest dreams granted. Do you think that is because they have accepted the fact that they are dying? I recently read somewhere that this reaction is a direct result of our ego taking a back seat for once in its life. Suddenly, keeping up with the Jones’ isn’t the priority. Driving the nicest car and wearing the latest fashions lose their luster and their meaning. Things like family and adventure, true soul searching take up the driver seat. Ironically, this is how we should be living the remainder of our lives on a daily basis.

This isn’t a new concept, right? I mean it’s been done before, psychologist have pondered this for years. I know, you’re sitting there saying to yourself “yea, but I have responsibilities and I can’t just abandon it all to live a care-free lifestyle”. So, I guess then you just accept the fact that you’re already dead?  Which means, that you are missing all the in between stuff. Just because you live life to the fullest, doesn’t mean you have to abandon “responsibility”. Everyone has a different version of happiness, I am simply suggesting that you find yours. Maybe happiness to you is being the CEO of a company or maybe it’s traveling the world with nothing you can call your own except your name. There is no right or wrong, but something must be done. If not, life becomes a series of “have to’s”. Obligations and responsibilities that we all have to do. Let me ask you this, if you’ve accepted the fact that you’re already dead and succumbed to life’s many demands, why have you chosen to create hell as your final resting place instead of heaven? Why have you chosen to be miserable instead of happy? This is a choice people. There are many people all around the world that have much less than we do that have grasped this reality and chosen to mold it into a heaven instead of a hell.

Any of you that have read my past posts or know me personally know that I am not an advocate for organized religion. I’m simply using the concepts of “heaven” and “hell” because they are easy for everyone to relate to. One of the reasons I have kept organized religion at bay in my life is because I strongly feel that guilt, repression and judgment are a huge part of most of those “houses of God”. I think that God, if he truly existed in the form that is being taught in our churches, would be appalled by the misinterpretation of “his word”. Anyway, that is another rant for another day. Today’s message, should you choose to take it for its grain of salt, is that you can choose your heaven and you can choose your hell here on earth. If you subscribe to the belief that everything is made up of the same energy then you’ll agree that really, they are all the same thing. You just have to decide which vibration you want to be a part of. Perhaps that’s why they call it a “higher” vibration or a “higher” IQ or a “higher” bank account. Really, we all just want to get high. You have the power to be at a higher vibration in life if you want to be. If everything feels like it’s falling apart and life has become too much, ask yourself why. I’d be willing to bet many of those reasons would relate to the expectations of society or others around you that you have put on yourself. We were not meant to carry the burdens of obligations to our religions or our peers or even our family. We were meant to create love and abundance for the world. If we all start focusing on that and stop focusing on guilt and the need to be outwardly “successful”, what do you think that world would look like? All those people you are trying so desperately to please, will start to reflect this back to you. You are your own worlds mirror.

So, consider this your notice of terminal illness. Because, honey, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to be the one that gets out alive. Take your dream trip, fall in love, follow all of your dreams. Put away the judgment of others and watch how fast others drop the judgments of you. More to the point, who cares? This is your life and you only get one shot in your current form. You can have all that you dream of, but you must first dare to dream. We were not put here in this form to live life just enough. We have been given the gift of free thought and each of us has the ability to use that tool to our advantage. Choose to believe that. Every limit that you have put on yourself, every insecurity and doubt is yours alone to own. Put your ego in the back seat and start steering your life based on how you want to feel and where you want to go. It’s a lifelong practice that will ebb and flow but you can start by taking the chances that you have the privilege to take.  If things start to look bleak, start appreciating those little things you take for granted. I mean, all the little things your take for granted! I love to travel and that is certainly a good way to remind all of us in the US how lucky and spoiled we are on a daily basis. You don’t have to feel bad about that, but I’d encourage you to be thankful for it!

We have not been programed mentally our entire lives to think this way. We have been programed to believe the we are not good enough and that what others think of us is very important. Therefore, our ego tends to take the driver’s seat more often than not. I always think of my ego as a whiney little boy barley able to touch to gas and the break. Peaking over the steering wheel, crashing into things, leaving me with bruises and scars. He’s up there saying “are were there yet? Why aren’t we there yet? Sallie got there yesterday and now we are behind”. Remember that your ego is your small child and they need to be disciplined. So, tell them “take a back seat kiddo, I’m taking back control”. You wouldn’t let your five year old drive you around all day would you? Then why are you allowing your ego to?

The only thing standing between you and your dreams is you.

Deep lessons Concealed


Whenever something negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it – Echart Tolle 

I try not to focus on the negative aspects of my life. I try to take deep breaths mediate and send loving energy out to the world. I try to send loving energy to those that are not giving me the same respect. I’ve learned a few hard lessons over the past few months.

1.) When your mother told you to just “ignore it” when girls at school were being catty towards you and they would stop, she lied…. it didn’t work then. It still doesn’t work.

2.) You cannot jump into a friendship as an adult the same as you could as a child. You have to ease into the process and really get to know others true colors…. or you will find them out too late. 

3.) Some girls never grow out of catty, jealousy or revenge. You have to be the bigger person, even if you draw blood biting your tongue.

4.) Sometimes being the bigger person, get’s you into more hot water. While others are busy discussing you, and you’re refusing the discuss anything, I guess it’s human nature to listen to the one talking. Even if it’s ill intended. 

5.) Those that cannot make up their own minds, will allow others to make it up for them. Even with little or no evidence of the accusations. This is why our judicial system is so broken.

6.) If someone thinks something you’ve written, said or thought is about them…….they have a guilty conscience……………(A Good friend pointed this out to me the other day, wow so true!) 

7.) It’s OK To go on a totally negative rant on your otherwise ZEN blog when you’ve reached your wits end.

8.) It’s OK to decide someone isn’t a good fit in your life. You can still pick your friends even if you can’t pick their noses. Pick carefully or you might draw blood. 

9.)  I’ve always subscribed to quietly and gracefully exiting a relationship and I still will.

10.) When you’re getting married, you should be allowed to talk about it all the time. You should be able to complain about the 18 different dresses that were all wrong and every single annoying and ridiculous detail of it. Your friends should smile and nod and smile and nod until you have no more talking about wedding in you. You should be able to have little to nothing else to talk about until it’s all said and done.  It’s a right of passage as a good friend. We all have to do it and we should all secretly love it when we truly are a good friend. 

11.) Life is busy and complicated. All the time, it’s up to you to decide what is important to take up that time.

12.) At the end of the day you still have try not to focus on the negative aspects of your life. Try to take deep breaths mediate and send loving energy out to the world. Try to send loving energy to those that are not giving you the same respect. Learn a few hard lessons over the next couple of months.

Positive Mirrored Affirmations


Recently in an interview with Scandalous Woman’s magazine. I was asked what kind of advice I would offer to young women suffering from eating disorders. It’s interesting how easy the answer came to me as I’d never given any thought to this before. The concept is not mine, nor is it new, nor is it proven, I’m sure. I cannot claim credit for the idea, but I can tell you what works for me and how.

Women are under immense pressure all the time regarding their looks. My finace once asked “doesn’t it bother you having all of these fashion magazines around the house with beautiful women?” Of course, I assumed that he was suggesting I wasn’t a beautiful woman and therefore should be offended by the site, but he actually was referring to the hours of hair, makeup and airbrush that went into the unrealistic photo session. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to experience just such a photo session and am familiar with the process. It was an eye opening experience to say the least. My makeup alone took nearly 2.5 hours and the hair, well, don’t even get me started. The photo session consisted of pinning clothes in their proper places, standing at “flattering” angles and not to mention at least 100 different photos to choose from. While I insisted on no touch ups and that the large scar on my chest from open heart surgery be left in place, they still turned out quite breathtaking. I credit a lot of that to the amazing team working on me for hours. Mind you, I was 15 pound heavier in the photos than I currently weigh now and I actually appear thinner in them! Aw, the magic of camera angles.

The point that I am drawing out in an attempt to make clear is that those women are relatively close to normal without the help of several professionals. Have you ever watched an episode of America’s Top Model? If you see the girls lounging around in their PJ’s with no make up, you’ll see what I mean. I caught myself thinking “wow, she is a model? She is so plain”. Now, please understand that the thought came from shock that models were “just like us” and not a jab at the actual model who was quite beautiful by “normal” standards.

In my younger years, I did have a brief fling with modeling. At the time I was 105 pounds and stood at nearly 5’8. The first thing that came out of the agencies mouth after signing me was “you need to take off at least 5 pounds”. She never even asked how much I weighed to begin with and given her disconnected look and mannerism when she said this I assumed it was just something that naturally came out of her mouth when signing a potential client. The words seemed to roll off her tongue as easily as an old friend saying hello. The original agent that I signed with was behind her dramatically busy with other paperwork. The woman so casually addressing me was probably a secretary or at least I assumed.

To my surprise, my reaction to this was shock. I wasn’t offended because she clearly hadn’t even looked at my body or inquired as to my weight. She wasn’t the decision maker, so my photos were not prompting this either. I actually objected and before I could pull the words back into my mouth. She looked at me with what could have been incredible rage or slight admiration at my brave and meek objection. She tilted her head to one side smiled and said “I can understand your reservations, but trust me this is a standard request that we make to every new client. Everyone can afford to take off 5 pounds and really it’s water weight”. I was given a list of food that were off limits for 2 months prior to the photo shoot. Anything that had sugar or salt was pretty much off the table with an emphasis on food and drinks that tended to bloat. I was told to drink a minimum of 10 cups of water each day.

There are a lot of behind the scenes rituals that go into place even before you step foot into that spray tan salon or the makeup chair. It’s all an illusion that is fabricated to create insecurities in young women to sell, sell, sell. Take a moment to really think this through. If you felt that you were perfect in every way, then you wouldn’t have any need for all of the expensive beauty products those magazines intend to sell. The market would suffer as a result and the magazines would cease to exist. This is a lie that we are being sold over and over again. Unfortunately, we keep buying the lie and so they keep raising the price. The price being the continued suppression of our positive self image.

For example, I recently read a statement from Vogue magazine that said they would “not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder.” Now mind you, in order to make this statement that means that they had to have actually knowingly done this in the past. I want you to think back to the age of 13 or 14, before your body grew into it’s beautiful womanly state. Think about your small breast, your perfectly smooth skin and your overall youthful appearance.  Now imagine your 13 or 14 year old self, walking up to a 40 year old woman and actually believing you would look exactly the same as you do at 13 or 14 at her age. It’s a little unrealistic isn’t it? Well, that is what you’re buying because that is what they are selling you.

Here is where the cure to the insanity comes into play. No, I am not going to ask you to give up Vogue because it’s a guilty pleasure of my own as well. I am just as addicted to the lip gloss, heels and latest fashion as the next girl. I am going to ask to you learn to love what you have already. Sure, it’s healthy to strive towards a better healthier body, if you do it correctly with proper nutrition and exercise. I am talking about the meanwhile, the screwed up diets and the constant negative chatter in your mind about your body and self image.

I once saw on youtube this great video that brought tears to my eyes. It was a curly headed blond little girl standing on top of the bathroom sink in her PJ’s yelling at herself while throwing punches and compliments equally hard. Her little voice peaking at the top of her lungs, to no one but herself  “I love my hair, I love my aunt…” and so on and so on. There were several comments on the video praising her  for her young age and already practicing positive affirmations. Her parents assured viewers that this wasn’t something that she was taught and that she simply woke up and was “having a good day”. I think the simplicity and the power of this struck me then. I was having a pretty good day myself, why hadn’t I congratulated myself on this in the mirror too?

I went to the mirror and stared at myself for five minutes straight. I did what every young woman has been programed to do and I judged the entire time. Each smile line and imperfection on my face was noted and stored away in the “things I hate about myself” file in the back of my mind. I really had to force myself to find just one thing that I liked that first time. Even after finding a small compliment it went something like this “I guess I have nice nails”. I couldn’t even give myself that minor compliment, I had to still make it an insecure statement.

As I continued this practice it was very painful for the first couple of weeks. Everyday I would get up, look in the mirror and find just one small part of my body to compliment. Eventually, I started to believe myself and it became easier. Finally I am at the point in my life where I can look at my naked body in the mirror and say “I look good!” Of course, I am still striving to be a healthier happier me, but in the meantime I am loving what I see. Our physical bodies are such a small and artificial part of our lives and yet we put so much stake into them. We treat our bodies as if they will live on forever to be continuously judged after our spirit leaves them. The truth is, that all of our bodies will end up a gruesome treat for the bugs 6 feet under with a headstone that will resemble all the rest.

No one will stand over our decaying bodies and think “wow, that face lift really held up, I’ll always remember that about her”. No, we will be remembered for our kindness and our accomplishments. So, when you’re going through your positive mirrored affirmations, keep in mind that one day you will see your body as a vessel. You will finally see it as simply a means to get you where you need to go. It will be then that you really appreciate it’s true beauty and meaning.  So, start your journey and stop your fretting!