Something that we talk about a lot in the salon/spa industry is the various ways we can help our clients let go of any shame connected to their appearance. If your hair color isn’t working for you, let’s fix it. If your skin is breaking out, let’s treat it. If you’re not happy with your leg hair, let’s wax it!
We have these conversations with open ears and open hearts, and we have them all the time.
Not everyone does, though. Even some of our regular guests have trouble articulating exactly what their needs are, and some of their insecurities are ones that they barely have the courage to admit to themselves, let alone a stylist or esthetician!
For those people, we see you. We hear you. We are here for you.
Tara Brach (my guru on metta and self-compassion) said something so beautiful when talking about shame. It really resonated with me over the weekend.
“Who are you when you’re not believing something’s wrong with you?”
Whether it’s something about our appearance, our past, or an idea we believe because of what other people have said, we all struggle with variations of shame and self-doubt.
When we practice going inward, we slow down and observe the feelings of shame and where they come from. We can breathe through them, and start to release them. This is not an easy practice by any means, but it can become a familiar one over time.
The focus here is prioritizing self-compassion over everything else. Treating yourself like a dear friend, with loving attention and grace, and asking “what’s underneath these feelings?”
Who are you when you’re not believing something is wrong with you?
Take time to remind yourself that your worth does not come from the approval of others, your appearance, your accomplishments, your failures, or what you own. What is beneath all of that?
Think back to when you were a child, before anyone told you that you should be ashamed of yourself. Before you were concerned about all the things that could (and would) go wrong, and before you had a bank account, a boss, and an overwhelming sense of perfectionism.
Here’s an exercise for this week:
Take your favorite photo of you as a child and tape it on the mirror where you get ready in the morning.
Hanging on my mirror is a black and white print of me at age 4 with my straight-across bangs and my favorite t-shirt ever (a pink one that said “FBI” in big letters). The photo is of my chubby-cheeked profile as I chug a big bottle of water, as if I’d just finished a 5K run or solved a crime.
I love this photo because it reminds me of the little things I used to love. My FBI shirt, my tiny glass replica of the Washington Monument, my pink Braves hat... Things that meant the world to me then. I look at that photo and see a really awesome kid. She is strong-willed and loving, and wants to be a detective. She is amazing just because she is amazing, not because of her looks, or her degree, or her paycheck. She simply is.
Next time you find yourself in a spiral of shame or insecurities, look at this photo and remind yourself of your most basic goodness. Before you say something judgmental or self-deprecating, take a moment and remind yourself who you’re talking to. Would you say that to your 4-year-old self? Maybe write down a few things you would say to them:
You are amazing.
You deserve love.
You deserve to feel safe.
I really like your shirt.
The process of healing requires compassion, grace, and a sense of humor. So if this practice feels a bit corny to you, so be it! Embrace it.
This practice allows me to say things I really mean to someone I really love. Someone who really is rocking that haircut. It happens to be incredibly healing because she happens to be me.
It's adorable, cheesy, maybe even a little scary (vulnerability is never easy). Try this practice for the rest of the week and see if you feel a little lighter. Let me know how it goes :)