Love Your Looks

Shep

Shortly after my great-nephew Shep turned 6-months, his parents Dave and Sylvia took him to the Cannes Film Festival.  They go every year for work.

Prior to going, Shep needed a passport.

Dave and Sylvia shared Shep’s passport photo with me.  It was impressive.   He’s debonair.   His smile, attire, and demeanor are all delightful.

I’m not so impressed when I look at photos of myself.  In my passport photo,  I’m wearing prison-issue denim.  Between that and the dull, sullen look in my eyes, I resemble an escaped convict.

It seems when we look at photos of ourselves, we automatically look for flaws.  We do the same thing when we look in the mirror, seeking wrinkles, pimples and other imperfections.

Mirrors help us know if we’ve got spinach in our teeth.  But we get carried away with judgment about our looks.   We compare ourselves with impossible standards – what we should look like or what we used to look like.

Shep is different.  He’s thrilled by his looks and unfettered by judgement.  He’s not subject to arbitrary rules of what is attractive or not.

We too can choose to love our looks like an innocent child. 

We have the capacity to relinquish thoughts of what we should be and simply delight in what is.  Our wrinkles are badges of honor.  Our frown lines inspire compassion.  Our imperfect bodies invoke delight in the comedy of being.

It takes practice.  But if you learn to love your looks, you’ll learn to love your life.  If you learn to love your life, you’ll learn to love your looks.

What arbitrary standards prevent you from loving your looks?  How can you learn to love your looks and your life? 

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People Pleasing – Lying About the Truth

Several years ago, I taught a class where the students had to read a mission statement at the last class.   One student had to miss, so he asked me to read his statement for him.   I had a momentary intuition of “This is not mine to do.  He should ask another student.”

Rather than honor that intuition, I slipped into the default of “Don’t be selfish.  Just do it.”

Through the need to please, I effectively persuaded myself to say yes when I wanted to say no.  I lied about the truth.

I received this student’s statement via email.  Then I forgot to read it in class.

Once I realized I had forgotten, I confessed my error to him.   Fortunately, my “sacred inadequacy” led to a beautiful conversation about boundaries and the faulty powers of people pleasing.

The ego has a dossier of phrases to support people pleasing.   At the speed of light, we move from a genuine “No thank you,” to “This person will feel hurt if I say no.  Don’t be a baby.  It won’t kill you to say yes.”

Ego strategies like guilt, fear, the inability to tolerate someone’s disappointment, and the need to be Wonder Woman/Superman topple our truthfulness.   We may think our inauthentic yes is a show of strength or kindness.  But often our misplaced yes is the wounded self seeking approval and belonging. 

Being who others need you to be; doing what is not yours to do; saying yes when you mean no. These behaviors chip away at your experience of worthiness.  Not only do you dishonor your own worth when you act in-authentically; you also say to others, “I do not honor you enough to be truthful; I do not think well enough of you to be who I am.”

Are there any inauthentic yeses in your life?

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The Power of a Pause

Paws Power

In general, my theology leans toward witnessing and befriending.  We allow the forsaken parts of ourselves to arise – our doubt, fear, guilt and shame. We embrace the “flaws” we tend to reject.   We allow the dark voice to speak and reveal its secrets to us.

But the ego is tricky.  Sometimes witnessing and befriending is a slick cover-up for the ingrained habit of scaring ourselves to death.  We don’t want to succumb to repression or denial so we continue to engage in destructive chatter in the name of “feeling our feelings.”

 

Our dark stories don’t have to overtake our minds like a crop of weeds flinging spores everywhere and littering the sanctity of our inner environment.

Instead we can just shut up and allow something life-affirming to grow.

We invoke the power of a pause as we say “Enough.”

This is surprisingly effective.

The power of a pause allows us to step back.  To me, it feels like stepping behind my chattering to see clearly.   From this new position, I refuse to be bewitched by my inner monologue and I gain perspective.

I realize doubts and fears think they are real.  They valiantly perform all kinds of shenanigans in the name of protecting or helping.  They stick like glue.  But doubts and fears arise for transformation not stagnation.   In other words, we welcome these thoughts but they don’t need to rent a room in us.  We pause and graciously escort them out the door of our consciousness, making space for something better.

Tara Bach says “learning to pause is the first step in the practice of Radical Acceptance.”  The Power of a Pause – breathing and gaining a new view – can help with almost anything.

How will you apply the Power of a Pause today?

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