by Carol Massimiani
Today’s media presents a woman that few can compete with. She’s first introduced to us as little girls in the form of a specific doll , …..yes, the beloved Barbie. Barbie then paves the way for the Kim K’s, J-Lo’s, Posh’s and other modern goddess’ who today’s contemporary young women choose to emulate in an attempt at exchanging their own poor self-image for what they see as perfection. We even have the “more mature” versions, those amazing 50-something celebs whose bodies and faces seem to miraculously defy time!
So this woman is gorgeous, ageless, has an amazing toned body and dazzling smile. She’s confident, independent and sexy. She never gets sick, tired, fat or angry. Even as a mother she’s faultless, successfully juggling kids and career. Her immaculate home, like her wardrobe, reflects impeccable taste. She’s an amazing cook, charming hostess and men everywhere drool.
Whilst she smiles smugly from the tv screen, magazines and music videos, the rest of us scramble to rid ourselves of our perceived flaws. We diet, fake-tan, work out and squander global millions on cosmetic aids and surgery in a frantic effort to hide cellulite, flabby thighs, thin hair, fat tummies, big noses, small breasts, short nails, wrinkles, spots or anything else that doesn’t match up to this goddess’ perfection.
When all else fails, we look in the mirror and wish that someone, somewhere, would invent a DIY airbrushing device….
But guess what?
You can RELAX. Here’s the secret …………… come closer …………. this woman DOESN’T REALLY EXIST!!!!
So, I dare you right now, if you have an inner Barbie – CHUCK her. She’s plastic. You are the real thing. Take a deep breath, look in the mirror and ask :
Sooo …Who Am I??? Really….?
Let’s start with who you are not.
You are not the person created from the opinions of others
You are not what you wear or how your physical features match up to airbrushed surgical dictates
You are not what you have or haven’t achieved
You are not what the educationalists determine your intelligence levels are
You are not what your bank account reflects
You are not who the popularity polls accept or reject
OK…..and What am I Saying to Myself?
Self talk begins early, rooted in messages sent by our parents through their expressions, body language and words. The process continues with siblings, peers, teachers etc. and gradually we weave a misshapen self image based on the inaccurate perceptions and opinions of others.
If I see myself as ugly, I may feel uncomfortable around supposedly ‘beautiful’ people and consequently shrink from social engagements. As a result I am perceived as a ‘loner’ so people stop inviting me, which I in turn see as rejection …. confirming my distorted beliefs. Get the cycle?
The echoes of words carried down the corridors of time often form our internal dialogue:
Parent: “You can be sooo stupid! Why couldn’t you have been born with some brains like your sister?”
Teacher: “What’s the matter with you!? Now listen as I explain yet AGAIN!”
Peers: “Ha ha, thickie!”
Belief: “I’m stupid”
in other words
“I am who I think YOU think I am”
Add to this to the powerful influence of the media and guess what? I don’t shape up! So I painstakingly construct a mask to hide the ‘real me’ and present what I think you will find acceptable! And, just like a chameleon I change ‘colour’ trying to please everyone and be everything to all people….
So what’s the solution?
Truth. The solution is truth!!!
Let’s look at who you ARE – according to God’s book, not Cosmopolitan:
Divinely created; embroidered with unique looks, personality, gifts, talents, abilities and characteristics… exclusively woven together like a beautiful tapestry, designed according to a heavenly pattern. You are actually tailor made for a specific individual purpose and nothing was either an accident or coincidence
Every incredible part of your unique design, spiritual, physical, mental, emotional – every fibre of your being was specifically knitted together for a reason.
But it gets better. You weren’t merely planned for an allotted time here on earth, you were purposefully designed for something far greater. Eternity.
And… you are so valuable, that the One Who made you paid the ultimate price to get you back from the one who stole you.
Now no one can free you from your misbeliefs except God, and YOU. We need to actively CHOOSE to focus on who He says we are and not the LABLELS assigned to us by others!!
RRR – RECOGNISE, REJECT, REPLACE
Recognize and identify the misbelief
Reject it by refusing to accept it
Replace it with the truth
Recognize : ” I have been believing that I am stupid”
Reject: “That is the opposite of God’s word and I choose to refute the lie”
Replace : “God says He has given me a well balanced mind (2 Tim1:7 Amp). I may not be academic but I’m NOT stupid – I have talents other areas which have been assigned to me for MY purpose in life.”
In a nutshell “What am I saying to myself?” and “What is the truth?”
Where We Go to Find Happiness:
When our innermost needs are not met, we as women look in all sorts of places to find relief: much like a person dying of thirst will drink from the sewer. So we focus on:
Appearance – often dictated by worldly values
Career – in pursuit of acknowledgement & recognition
Home – perfectionism in running/decor etc
Sport – winning a game … sometimes makes up for not wining in life
Kids – doing everything for our kids as in ‘Super Mom’
Darling – living our lives around pleasing our partner
None of these things are wrong in themselves, except when used as a ‘fix’ for self.
The sad thing is that the whole time we are drinking from the drain, God is standing with a bottomless pitcher of fresh, clean, sparkling water. Living Water.
Life delivers a vast assortment of packages. Some propel us towards becoming better people and others pull us down into the depths of despair leaving us feeling hopeless and, very often, worthless. Love and acceptance cause us to blossom and flower, whereas rejection and criticism shred our souls. Abuse crushes our spirits leaving us emotionally bankrupt. But the good news is that God can take all our insolvency and pour His unlimited abundance into it!
We can’t change our past, but only we can choose to let it contribute to or contaminate our self image. Sometimes, through our most painful experiences, we find our greatest strengths. Sometimes it is only in the deepest valley that we discover to our utmost joy how much we really can trust God! And so unfolds a profound truth – that we can trust Him simply BECAUSE He loves us, completely, for WHO we are.
Carol Massimiani is a counsellor at the Christian Counselling Centre