If you’re someone who struggles with your body image and low self esteem, you’re not alone. I could give you all of the staggering statistics of how many others suffer as well but I won’t. I don’t want to discourage you and I don’t want you to give in to the so called norm, instead I want to inspire you in knowing a bigger truth. The bigger truth is that your self esteem and body image issues are nothing more than a perspective and the great news is that our perspectives can change in every given moment. How do I know this? Because I’ve had first hand experience. If there was such a thing as getting a degree in body image issues and low self esteem, I would have had a PhD and won a Nobel Prize. Today I am completely free from those issues and actually feel a depth of love for myself that makes up for all those long lost years I lived in pain. My goal is to help you break free from these issues now so that you don’t end up going down the path that I did. My body image issues and low self esteem led me to drugs and alcohol, nicotine addiction and an eating disorder. These issues also led me to dropping out of high school, sexual promiscuity and destructive  relationships with very unhealthy men. In the end, I did anything and everything to get validation for the way I looked. I consider myself lucky to be alive. Where Did Your Issues Start? Sit silently for a moment and think about where the root of your body image and low self esteem issues have started. For instance, my problems started early on in second grade. I was bullied for being overweight and wearing glasses. Bullied GlassesThe school hallways were terrifying from the boys lining up and bellowing insults at me. I was traumatized on a daily basis. Life at home was no safety zone either, my parents were fighting constantly and I had an older sister who seemed to hate me for being born. I was alone with it all.  I became obsessed with being pretty.  I would obsessively compare my body to the “pretty girls” and ponder how I could achieve some trait that they had that I didn’t. At the same time I was developing this obsession, I was finding ways to numb myself from the pain of my circumstances. In those early years, food was the first “drug of choice” that I used to numb the pain. Being Pretty Doesn’t Fix It After a volatile divorce between my parents, my mother moved the three of us kids to San Diego.  My self will and survival instincts led me to choosing unhealthy ways to lose weight; drugs, nicotine, starving my body and compulsive exercising. Before you know it, I lost weight, got contact lenses and was nominated for homecoming princess. By the age of 16, I was winning every bikini contest in San Diego. Miss Mission Beah I had achieved my dream yet there was one big problem; I had to be at a certain weight, my hair had to look a certain way and I had to be wearing the perfect fitting outfit. I was just as obsessed if not more on the way I looked and rarely did I feel satisfied. There was another problem as well; my addictions were affecting my health and causing more depression, anxiety and inability to perform basic responsibilities. My choices were taking me down. By the age of 17, I lost my last big beauty contest The Miss Jordache Contest that would have taken me to New York where I would have had interviews with the top modeling agencies. Jordache After I lost that contest, I identified with being an “ugly duckling loser” and was no longer able to maintain the discipline that it took to be thin. My food addictions became even more uncontrollable and I crashed and burned. I gained weight and was so depressed and embarrassed that I dropped out of school in the middle of tenth grade.  All hell broke loose and everything escalated after that. My Bottom In the end, I was 20 years old, living in Mexico and topless dancing in San Diego. Every night, I risked my life and crossed the border smuggling drugs to and from. My body image issues and low self esteem led me to the lowest life possible. Mexico On the Edge I spent every night desperately vying for the attention from all those men. This was far from glamorous. I was sick, lost and completely unable to function. No man was ever going to sweep me up and take me away. It was the darkest and loneliest time of my life. By the time I was 22 years old, in 1987, my mother gave me the greatest gift of an intervention. I was admitted to rehabilitation and from there I went into an all women’s recovery home. I’ve been 30 years free from all of my addictions and living the most rewarding life. It took me many years to find inner peace and happiness however, it does not have to take you as long. Had I known what I know now, I would have been able to get there much sooner. Love is the Ultimate Solution When you’re going through life challenges, you need a mentor to help you sort it all out. Most of the time, there’s no one you feel you can trust or that seems to really understand how to support you through it. This is the time that most young people internalize the pain. This is dangerous because this is when survival instincts kick in and you begin making choices that lead you deeper into the darkness. If you do not have someone in your life that you feel can help you with these issues, then I want you to do something very important right now. You may not know this, but you are able to manifest whatever you want. With that being said, Take out a piece of paper and pen and write this down, “I am open to the perfect mentor who is divinely sent to me. This person understands and knows exactly how to support me. I am open and ready to receive support. I am ready to be free from my pain. I am ready to discover and experience the greater truth of the everlasting love that resides inside of me.” This was the key to my freedom. It was when I discovered this extraordinary love that my self esteem and body image issues finally transcended. Being perfectly pretty is not ever going to make you feel great about yourself. I know this from experience. It’s the everlasting love that you are made from that is going to make you feel more than good about yourself, it’s going to make you feel like you’re glowing and walking in a field of light. This love trumps being thin, talented, or brilliant. The sense of fulfillment you experience from this love goes way beyond the fulfillment you might feel from your talents or great traits. Five Ways to Connect to this Love
  1. Meditation– Sit in silence for 10-20 minutes in the morning and 10-20 minutes in the evening. In that silent space, draw your attention to the stillness and the peace. As you begin to practice daily meditation, notice how much more beautiful that peaceful space begins to feel. That peaceful space is the all loving. Allow yourself to feel loved by this peace. One step further would be to know that you are this peace and that it is not separate from you.
  2. Giving– Giving to others is the most loving thing we can do. When we do loving things for others then we begin to feel ourselves become that love. Love is the most fulfilling experience on this planet.
  3. Commune with Nature– Take in mother nature. Sit and really watch the wind blow through the trees, enjoy how the hummingbirds play, look out into the ocean or take in the stillness of the desert. Love is in mother nature.
  4. Self Care– Eat well balanced and nutritious meals and snacks. Keep your blood sugar balanced and make sure to get plenty of sleep. Participate in balanced exercise making sure that you are nurturing your body and not torturing it.
  5. Loving Community– Who are you hanging out with? Take a close look at who you choose to spend your time with. Navigate toward people with kind hearts. Find an uplifting and loving spiritual community that you resonate with.
Remember that pain leads us to love. Whatever pain you are living in right now, know that it is a necessary part of your growth and the sooner you surrender to the steps toward love, the sooner you’ll be free.  Life is beautiful on the other side. Love is waiting for you. written by Kelly Jean Dammeyer