Tuesday, May 06, 2014

How to Re-imagine Yourself for Real Love

For most of the last several thousand years, women's primary value has been associated with their looks, their sexuality, and their ability to have children. Throughout the last century, we made considerable progress as women, more and more becoming valued by skill, abilities, and merit. Yet with all this progress, there is still a lag in our ability to image ourselves strong and beautiful in our natural, unique individuality. Why? I believe we are continuing to identify with outgrown images that keep us in a state of fear and inadequacy.
The effect of cultural image messages
We are shaped by our cultural messages - the images, the words, the myths. Today we hear and see messages that tell us to be thin, young, to have preferred facial and body features, and to be fashionably attired. We seem to keep reiterating to ourselves that we value youth over wisdom, sexiness over soulfulness, skinniness over healthiness, shocking over comforting, and perfect features over inner beauty. Is this really what we feel? I see the women around me growing restless with this superficial value system.
This restlessness is indicative of an important transition towards women's inner beauty and worth and a step towards deepening human relationships.
Acknowledging that our cultural messages have left us with some bad habits, as well as serious disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, is important to being able to finally let go of them. Self-criticism, comparing oneself to unrealistic ideals, jealousy of other women, and fear that one's looks and figure are not perfect enough to measure up to today's social standards are just worn in bad habits. Free of this kind of self defeating behavior, we can begin to re-imagine ourselves - discover our inner beauty, real authentic value, and the potential that comes out of that.
Cultural messages affect our relationships
The issue of outer beauty may seem primarily female but it can cause equal dissatisfaction to both sexes. The constant search and goal for unreachable outer idealism lowers the potential for real connection, real intimacy, and real love.
In Raine Eislers' powerful book Sacred Pleasure, she addresses how seemingly harmless fairy tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White make women learn to view their bodies as commodities to trade for security and happiness. To attract a prince charming, women must have the image that meets society's specifications. The message that girls and women unconsciously inherit is that if you aren't vigilant in improving and sustaining your body and face appearance, you will not be acceptable or loved by others - especially men.
The resounding idealistic expectations that women will always be young, agreeable, and socially stamped beautiful has more and more men feeling the effects of image expectation on themselves. It is no wonder that women and men often end up confused, scared, and unsatisfied. Unhealthy dieting, photo retouching, plastic surgery, and pornography are some of the ways women and men continue to perpetuate these myths.
Of course, real connections continue to be made; despite social pressures, real intimacy and love do flourish. But both women and men and their relationships can stay locked in surface value and suffer greatly from these unremitting cultural messages. By continuing to buy into image stereo types, we are rejecting our truest selves, which leaves us unhappy, powerless, and feeling replaceable.
Guidelines to Reimage yourself:
1) Let go
What thoughts, ideas, or feelings about beauty do not make me feel good about myself?
2) Define your inner beauty
Ask yourself: What do I truly find beautiful in myself? What do I describe as my essence? What makes me unique?
3) Build Confidence
a) Express yourself more fully and honestly with others.
b) Face one fear everyday in a life affirming way.
c) Do more of what you love.
4) Respect your body
See it as a sacred expression of your spirit, then naturally all actions for and with your body will become sacred.
5) Replace self-criticism with positive affirmations
Example I am a divine radiant being. (say it aloud or meditate on it)
6) Meditate
Guidelines to Honor Each Other (Women )
1) Be honest to develop important trust
2) Pick out attributes of uniqueness in each other and let the other know (discuss each
Person's attribute(s) for a few minutes on a regular basis
3) Give each other Reassurance, Support and Encouragement Regularly
4) Respect Each Others Intimate Relationships
5) Practice Sharing both Joys and Fears with one Another
6) Keep Confidences/ Don't Gossip
Intimate Relationships
1) Practice seeing each other beyond the physical and material surface, to each others spirit
2) Communicate from the Heart
a) Be honest and address your feelings
b) Be a good listener
3) Practice non- judgment with each other
4) Respect yourself. Respect each other.
5) Acknowledge one another's inner attributes, gifts and beauty and give each other encouragement regularly
When each one of us, in our own way, is courageous and says no to the illusion of values based on social and media standards of attractiveness and acceptability, and no to not feeling good enough, and to devaluing ourselves, then we can use our energy and creativity to enrich and express our essence, inner beauty, and true gifts.
Disregarding our worn out worthiness myths, we will become empowered, create a change in consciousness, and discover new possibilities of relating to one another. I believe this will deepen the potential for real connections, real intimacy, and real love in our friendships and intimate relationships.

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