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Dealing With Demons

Dealing With Demons

I live with a paralyzing fear of my body. I hate showing my soft belly to the world. And so that’s exactly why I do it, to overcome this irrational fear of rejection I have around such a normal part of my body. This anxiety is deeply rooted in self-doubt and judgment, and for this, I know I must rewire old habits.

How many minutes, hours, days, even years, have I wasted obsessing over the way I look?

I choose to spend as much of the rest of my life feeling courageous and celebrated in my skin, even if it means writing my own headlines and defining beauty on my own terms, which to me, looks like courage and complete ownership.

Every time I post a picture on social media, I overcome demonizing thoughts about my image. Questions like, what will my exs think when they see my tummy rolls? Will they think, Man I’m so glad we’re not together anymore?

What will the people around me think, when I expose my belly in yoga? Oh, she’s fat but she must not know it ‘cause her shirt’s off.

What will my husband think, when he watches me own this skin that’s rarely celebrated in media? I wish she’d just be normal and not always have to admit to her shortcomings? (Fortunately, he comments on my pictures with rows of emojis: goal post hands and applause.)

So these are some of the demons I deal with everyday.

And everyday, I have the choice to practice radical self-acceptance or crawl back into the painful, lonely hole of unworthiness, counting calories, weighing myself and obsessing over body image.

I want to be happy, like many of us, so I choose to defeat the whispers that know so well how to bring me down. I choose to flip the conversation from I’m not good enough into something positive and empowering. Something like, I am brave enough to write my own rules and accept them as true.

I am brave enough to love myself in a culture that says I shouldn’t. A culture that says:

I should feel insecure because my stomach rolls when I sit down.

I shouldn’t celebrate my strength because running crops give me a muffin top.

I should go on a diet because my measurements are 40-32-43.

I should be embarrassed when my chin breaks out.

I should apologize for not wearing makeup.

I should feel defeated when I eat sugar or break my diet.

I shouldn’t show too much skin because society labels me plus size.

Dealing With Demons

I’m brave enough to look past society’s standards and love myself. For twenty some years of my life, I’ve lived with a socially acceptable amount of self-sabotage and I’m sick of feeling constant defeat. I recognize it takes an immense amount of courage, to step outside of the box and think on my own.

What if I were blind to the Kardashian zeitgeist? How would I live my life if media never dictated what was in and what was out? How would I feel about my body, if no one were around me to compare it to? These are just examples of questions I ask myself before making a decision that effects my emotional wellbeing (ie: Should I really feel guilty? Should I really hate my stomach when I wear a bikini?).

I used to fear embracing myself for who I was because I recognized only powerful, beautiful women did things like that. Now I recognize, the only thing stopping me from being a powerful, beautiful woman, is believing I am.

So I am. And so are you. I give you permission to feel powerful and beautiful from this day forward.

I fully embrace all of who I am. I am brave enough to unlearn what media has taught me I should look like. I release attachment to feeling the need to lose the last ten pounds. I let go of the idea that I need to follow a strict diet. I am not someone else’s Barbie doll. I am my own idea of perfect. I am me, uniquely.

And I recognize this is all easier said than done. So allow me break it down.

In one hand, I can believe in the headlines media publishes, beating myself with a stick every time I stray from the trendy fad diet and beauty rules. And in the other hand, I can choose to surrender and let go of attachment. Both decisions require a tremendous amount of work, but only one is sustainable.

I recognize surrender looks different for all of us, and for myself, surrender often looks like unlearning what is untrue.

Cheryl Strayed said, “The best thing you can do for self-care is get rid of all the assholes in your life.” And who seriously questions Cheryl’s authority?

Let’s get rid of anything that’s holding us back from believing in the power of our organic greatness; who we are without labels as layers of comfort and protection. Move those things into life’s desktop trashcan. Delete them from social media, take them out of our phone contacts. The 1% of nonbelievers often dictate our decisions, while the other 99% we surround ourselves with want to see us thrive. Forget the 1 %. If you’re not pissing someone off, it usually means you’re not doing anything important. There will always be a 1% that doubts us, maybe even a 49%. Let’s move on and surround ourselves with people who will love us, even if we wake up tomorrow with a glittery horn growing from our forehead and a rainbow striped tail coming out of our back.

So, I say, let’s have the courage to publish our own headlines. Let’s write our own stories. Define beauty on our own terms. Skip over the articles that make us feel unworthy, and surround ourselves with friends that lift us up and make us feel holy and beautiful, just the way we are.

Kind Contributor Emily Nolan

Emily Nolan is a professional model, teacher and founder of nonprofit, TOPLESS yoga, a globally recognized empowerment event used as a tool for practicing radical self-acceptance. Emily hosts The Hum, a women’s fellowship retreat which emphasizes listening to our Hum within. Through her mission-based work, Emily has sparked a global conversation around body image.

Nolan is currently writing her first book, Pretty Brave.

Find Emily Nolan at @iamemilynolan // emilynolan.com.

Join Emily on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

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this kinda rocks!
oh darling, indulge a little