Giving Yourself Permission to Be Beautiful

Recently I had a Skype session with Ellen, a client who had gained a pound and was having a bad hair day.

When we explored the roots of her body-image discontent, we discovered a little-girl Ellen who inherited the belief that it was ungodly to wear nice clothing or have beautiful hair.

Ellen's mother, a strict Catholic, thought her own hair was ugly and always kept it bound under a scarf.

In our session, Ellen described a time when she was recollecting her wedding with her siblings. When she saw a photograph of herself on wedding day ~ slim, in love, and happy ~ she exclaimed, “Wow! I want to get a copy of this photo to put on my wall!” 

Overhearing her words, Ellen’s stern older brother reprimanded her exuberance, as he had often done. Pursing his lips and shaking his head, he hissed, “Ellen, please!” 

Ellen recoiled. And the pounds started creeping on. 

Is It Okay to Love Your Appearance?

In February 2018, I hired Heidi and Tara, the two goddesses from In Her Image Photography in Petaluma, California, to shoot photos of me for my new web site.

Before the photo shoot I felt concerned, as many of us would be, about what my 55-year-old body would look like on camera. Was there any beauty to be found in my mid-life appearance?

When I received the final prints, I was stunned.

I started falling in love with this gorgeous woman looking back at me. Some yummy chemical began a slow release in my body, like sexual love reawakening after a long sleep.

Then I felt embarrassed. Is it okay for me to feel this way? Am I being—narcissistic?

Narcissism has its roots in the Greek myth of Narcissus, a young god who fell in love with his own reflection in a pond and then drowned trying to grasp the elusive image. 

The myth is referenced as a cautionary tale: Don’t be too prideful about your appearance, or else you'll become infatuated with yourself. 

Narcissus Was a Jerk

I looked up the story. Turns out Narcissus was a real jerk.

He tortured Echo, a nymph who fell in love with him, by mimicking her every word until she died in the woods madly repeating herself. Narcissus spurned many lovers, among them a fellow named Aminias, who committed suicide imploring the gods to curse Narcissus for his heartlessness.

Narcissus wasn’t a jerk because he fell in love with himself.

He was—well, narcissistic—way before he met his fate.

Yet this story has been told as an admonition to shine our beauty at half-wattage, if at all. 

Tapping on the Fear of Being Beautiful

Do you know, consciously, that it really is okay to be beautiful as you are, but some deeper part of you is holding back? 

If so, use EFT to tap along with the Tapping Guide I used with Ellen, below.

Begin by saying the following statement aloud to yourself: "It's not safe to be beautiful."

How true does this statement feel, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most true? 

Once you have your number, begin tapping on the karate chop point of either hand while saying aloud, three times, "Even though I have this deep belief that it's not okay to be beautiful, I deeply love and completely accept myself." 

Then, tap around the points while repeating the phrases below.  Substitute your own words if mine don't resonate with you. (Note: I used the term God below because I was addressing the little Catholic girl in Ellen's subconscious. Please use whatever other term suits you if that one doesn't.)

  • Top of the head: These beliefs
  • Inside the eyebrow: It’s ungodly to wear nice clothing
  • Side of the eye: It’s ungodly to have beautiful hair
  • Under the eye: It’s ungodly to love how I look
  • Under the nose: Someone will disapprove
  • Under the mouth: My mother will disapprove
  • Collarbone point: My brother will disapprove
  • Under the arm: He’ll hush me and suppress me
  • Top of the head: It’s not safe to love my appearance
  • Inside the eyebrow: It’s really not safe to be slim, in love, and happy
  • Side of the eye: I better keep the pounds on
  • Under the eye: I’m much safer that way

Take a nice deep breath and a drink of water. 

Repeat the original statement: "It's not safe to be beautiful." How true does it feel now? 

If it's a 5 or higher, what's still there for you?

After the initial stress resolves, I like to engage the brain in imagining alternative scenarios by asking, What If?

Try these words and see how they resonate: 

  • Top of the head: These beliefs
  • Inside the eyebrow: Some part of me is still holding on to them
  • Side of the eye: What if I could give them back to my mother?
  • Under the eye: What if I could give them back to my brother?
  • Under the nose: What if I could say, "Thank you,
  • Under the mouth: But these beliefs aren’t mine"?
  • Collarbone point: What if I could give them back?
  • Under the arm: I’m willing to take a chance
  • Top of the head: I’m giving these beliefs back to my mother
  • Inside the eyebrow: I choose to love my beautiful hair
  • Side of the eye: I choose to love my beautiful body
  • Under the eye: I am made in the image and likeness of God
  • Under the nose: My beauty is a gift from God
  • Under the mouth: My beauty is a gift from God to others
  • Collarbone point: I am an expression of God’s beauty
  • Under the arm: It’s safe for me to steward and enjoy my beauty

Take a nice deep breath and a drink of water. 

Repeat the original statement: "It's not safe to be beautiful." How true does it feel now? 

Keep tapping until  you get that statement down to a 0. Then consider replacing that old statement with a new one, such as "It's safe for me to steward and enjoy my beauty." Could that feel as true as the previous statement, or even truer?

After a few rounds of Tapping, Ellen had the look of relief I’ve come to recognize so well. 

My Challenge to You

Find or take a photo of yourself that you really love. Put it somewhere highly visible. Let yourself fully take in the beautiful woman in that image. If discomfort with your pleasure surfaces, tap on it. 

Who would you be if you could humbly and joyfully appreciate the beauty you are?  

Would you really devastate others the way Narcissus did?

Hardly.

Instead, your beauty might well heal the whole world. Hey, you never know.