Would surgery help you to love yourself?
Our body bears testament to our life.
There’s no getting away from it.
The children we have borne; the life we have led and the joys and losses we’ve experienced are often writ large on our physical appearance. We carry our victories and our tragedy in the lines on our face and the curve of our back and belly.
Recently I read about Maureen Nolan, one of the Nolan Family who had pop success in the 1970s and 80s as part of an all-girl, all-sister singing troupe.
She’d revealed to the UK’s tabloid press about her plastic surgery to refresh her facial features after what she believed had been ten years of stress that had left its mark on her appearance.
She was pleased with the results and said she felt vindicated in undergoing elective surgery which went against her family’s wishes due to the risk factors involved.
So, can a knife erase the real stress and heartache of experiences and challenges that come with being alive?
Increasingly people think it can, and more and more cosmetic surgery is being sought by younger and younger women and by a growing number of men too.
Does plastic surgery work to lift emotions as well as it does to lift eye-lids? Can smoothing out worry lines effectively remove negative thinking or the limiting beliefs a person has about themselves?
Can having lip-fillers make a person love themselves more?
Plastic surgery does seem to improve some people’s self-esteem, and they often report feeling lighter and happier in themselves. However, it rarely lasts indefinitely as many of the surgical enhancements have an expiry date when they will need re-doing or topping up – depending on the procedures.
Also, however fabulous you look or however many procedures you have to improve your looks that become your benchmark, your new ‘normal’ and that soon gets taken for granted.
Weight loss, resulting from adopting changes to eating and lifestyle or post-bariatric surgery is another way that people can radically change their appearance hoping it will make them feel happier and love themselves more.
Carrying excess weight is a manifestation of a body out of balance. A therapy approach would be to bring yourselves back into balance so that it is safe to release your excess weight.
The goal would be to feel at home and safe in yourself not just be slimmer and lighter but to honour and care for yourself to the best of your ability.
It is only by entirely being comfortable being you will that you allow yourself to thrive. Self-love doesn’t mean you lose the drive to get your excess weight off and stick with being fat. Self-love doesn’t necessarily mean you will be content not to have a facelift or breast enlargement or whatever else you want to have done.
It does mean though that at the core of you will be a healthy amount of self-love so that once you’ve lost your excess weight or had your chin tucked or eyelids lifted you can go on living a full life and not sweating the small stuff.
It can be helpful to acknowledge how little you are at peace with yourself by writing it all down. By shining a light onto these self-critical, self-assassinating beliefs, you can take the first step in taking back your power from how your body looks to who you are.
In our book ‘7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating’ my colleague Liz Hogon and I suggest you list all the things you like about your body and then list all the things you dislike about your body.
Use the actual words and phrases you say about yourself or the words others have said to you to describe yourself physically.
Write down the praise and the admonishments.
As you do write your list make a note of the emotions or memories that surface. Take your time with this.
You carry the weight of your self-criticism and the emotional load of the harsh words and the physical trespasses others have made against you.
Here are some examples of like and dislike of other clients.
The ‘like’ list
I like my eyes
My ankles are slim
I have narrow wrists
The ‘hate’ list
My breasts get me too much attention
I am never strong enough to protect myself
I hate my big stomach
Being small means being weak
By focussing on writing your list, you may have the revelation that it is not your physical appearance in isolation that causes you discomfort but the emotional connection you have made with your negative judgements or the judgements of others.
This work shows you the emotional undercurrent of how you feel about your physical self. So, before you choose the knife do the work needed to explore and re-appraise your judgments so that you can see them for the B.S thoughts they are.
If that feels impossible for you to do alone, I have therapy strategies that make your process of re-evaluation and self-acceptance much more compelling and effective. If you want some help with loving yourself, then call me for a chat.
Sally Baker is Senior Therapist, published Author and Speaker in private practice in London for face to face sessions and the world over via the internet.
With almost twenty years of professional experience, she employs cutting-edge therapeutic approaches to help one person at a time to transform their lives.
She has extensive experience working with people to alleviate their anxiety, depression, anger issues, eating disorders as well as conflicts within relationships and the family.
To find out more about Sally Baker, her books and her work visit her website, www.workingonthebody.com