Body Image and Recovering the Ego by Romina Vintila
Looking at ourselves…what is it all about? The oracle of Delphi’s famous saying “Know thyself” comes to mind. So how do we know ourselves, without constantly analyzing, being hyper aware and critical of ourselves in the process? The notion of self-love can be taken to extremes in either direction; whether it’s narcissism, or self-loathing. Regardless, it is still an issue of the ego, whether it’s amped up to no end, or it has been beaten into the ground, and self-esteem is deficient.
So how do we really know ourselves without the proverbial horse blinders? How do we develop a clear filter to watch our lives unfold while at the same time having self-knowledge?
While living in a society, we have to consider the many standards we are bombarded with on a daily basis, and are they truly our own goals? When looking at ourselves, most of us tend to compare ourselves to others, to their achievements, their standards, which may not always fit in with who we really are, or where we wish to go. To discriminate between these two very different worlds is key, for we get caught up in a web of illusion, of societal expectations and standards, and often, if we do not fit in, we feel inadequate, insecure, even unworthy.
So how do we attain an objective enough self-image, especially when it comes to body image, the physical? To celebrate our uniqueness is a beautiful thing, and we mustn’t forget that we were all made to be unique individuals, with very specific constitutions and body types. If everyone looked the same, what would we have? A world filled with pawn-like people? We should always remember how special we are in our own bodies, and never try to emulate another’s, because that is simply who they are. Admiration vs envy is a noble thing to strive for and feel, because envy leads to many other negative emotions, jealousy, comparison, and ultimately, suffering. To be comfortable in our own skin seems cliché, yet is so fitting here. Of course, it is easier said than done, and we’ve heard it so many times, it seems overlooked.
To be comfortable in your own skin is the path to recognition and self-love. Recognizing your own unique divine temple we call the body is to see who you are as a whole, for your body is part of you, your vehicle, which gets mistreated so much of the time. Our bodies have intelligence, our muscles hold memories, and, as kinesiology shows us, many different emotional responses. It has a meaningful story to tell us, and to mistreat it or push it to where it does not wish to go is simply torment for the body. Why is it so hard to love ourselves and our bodies? What beliefs from society or parental programming have we bought into? Why do we feel this way? It is valuable to look for these beliefs, find them and see where they come from, and dismantle them. Most of them come from childhood, when we unconsciously adopted them. It is easy to be programmed as a child, and as innocent as we were, we took them on as our own. Now we struggle with their conflicting nature, for deep inside, we know they are not real, not true. We struggle, because we are not true to ourselves, and we have lost touch with that primordial part of us that knows the ultimate truth of our nature.
One of the main signals that we are on our way to enlightenment is to be able to discriminate between our own thoughts/beliefs, and those that belong to others and society, those that were simply imprinted in us as we grew up, and even currently as we are. The complexities of the psyche multiply, and as we evolve, there is no ceasing it. However, we can work on our own belief systems; and begin to analyze whether they make us happy; they fit in with who we are; or not. If they do not, they should be discarded. If they fit in, then we can keep them. A lot of “housecleaning” must be done, as we do not allow others to take charge of our mental and emotional space; it is our own to maintain and watch over. This is one of the toughest things to do, as we are bombarded daily by media, television, advertising, etc.
Another thing to consider is whether we are overly concerned with body image, or if we have a healthy relationship with it. Regardless of whether we are overly critical of it, or too infatuated with it, it still remains a matter of the ego. The healthiest way to approach it is through balance, through understanding that we are a lot more than just our bodies, and that we have to work on the entirety of our spirits, not just our physical selves. The human condition can be difficult to pacify, for it has many layers; however, the dance continues, and we sometimes have to learn to fit all of our pieces into a beautiful puzzle that makes us who we are.
Romina Vintila is a Chicagoland writer, activist, and spiritual mentor. For over a decade, she’s been researching metaphysics, and esoteric philosophy, and has been published in OM Times and other publications. She loves fairy tales and crystal healing. Find her blog at: www.treesylph.blogspot.com.