I had the enormous pleasure and privilege of working with a client recently, a heart-centred entrepreneur, who is in the process of updating her website and having her professional photograph taken as part of the site’s renovation.
We talked for quite a while about this photo session, which she has been dreading. When we started exploring why that was, she shared that she’d always felt an ugly duckling growing up, as her sister was extremely photogenic, even model-beautiful. The early messages she’d received was that her sister was the pretty and photogenic one – not her. This had led her to store away the message that she wasn’t photogenic, she wasn’t the pretty one, and possibly that she looked awful in photos (after all, people tell you when you look great in photos, don’t they? So the absence of positive comments must mean you don’t look good, right?).
Not true. She is a beautiful woman, and she is photogenic (even her current amateur photos on her website allow us to see her beauty, and she radiates more than skin-deep beauty – there’s a depth of character and open-heartedness to her that is almost tangible).
But that’s the thing about old messages and memories – they don’t yield to logical demands that they disappear because they “don’t make sense” anymore. If my client could have talked herself out of believing, on some deep, unexplored level, those hurtful messages, she already would have.
We know that the early messages we pick up on, even if they aren’t within our everyday conscious awareness, impact us (I’ve written about this before).
We know that from a very early age we’ve been ‘writing our autobiography’ – crafting stories about who we are, what we are, and what that means.
But how do we change those stories, that autobiography, if some of those early memories and messages aren’t so positive?
The first step in reducing the impact of those early, and incorrect, messages is acknowledgement.
Change is possible, and early hurtful messages that we’ve been carrying around with us can be reversed, or at least the tide can begin to be turned.
Simple – but powerful
Acknowledgement is a simple activity – there’s not a lot of complicated steps to it. But it is very powerful.
There may be feelings, memories, thoughts and imaginings lurking within you that you aren’t aware of, or aren’t aware of the impact they still have.
But once you have reflected on the old messages and memories you are carrying with you, and the thoughts and feelings that go with them, you start to lighten the load.
You start down the path of true choice about what you do, and don’t, believe about yourself. About what you are, who you are, and what that means.
You start to be in firmer control of your feelings of self-worth.
My client’s load is now lighter. She’s shone the gentle light of awareness onto an old message and set of memories she didn’t even realise still packed a big emotional punch. She’s starting to define herself on her own terms.
She’s starting to see that she is, indeed, beautiful.