So many mornings you may get up and look in the mirror, unhappy with yourself in some way, or perhaps wanting to stay in bed without getting up to face the day. In this article I want to offer some
ideas on how the beauty all around us can be taken in to directly affect your mood and self-image.
Why even try this? Besides the fact that there is more than you could ever
imagine that is beautiful and potentially pleasing to the eye, awareness of this in certain ways can shift your focus that may be fixed on what is wrong
with you and others, what you fear will never change, and what keeps you stuck in a circle of sadness frustration and disappointment about yourself and
your life instead of feeling that energy that gently pulls you up and out, moving you forward.
Here are some practices around allowing beauty to come in for relieving and uplifting.
The first way that comes to mind is to look in your own back yard (literally), or somewhere close to where you
live. Perhaps a park nearby, or a garden in front of a house on your favorite block. Plants are so exquisite in the detail on the
leaves, stems, flower-petals, branches, and beyond. Filling yourself with noticing this is a wonderful side trip from what usually
monopolizes your mind and body. Anywhere you can find some natural loveliness growing, really focus on this and take it with you
in any way you can when you leave the place you find it...visually, with touch, fragrances and most importantly, the feeling it gives
you internally that soothes or moves a stuckness. Be open to subtleties and even if you aren't certain you are taking it in, breath
easily and without effort (as best you can) and imagine you are absorbing it somehow. Do you see how this has already shifted your focus?
Animals and other living creatures are inspirational as they have the ability to move towards what they need no
matter what interrupts them. They may hide, or defend, go great distances from their dwellings and still come back to the
simplicity of being alive and protecting their family or home. You can see beauty in their coloring, fur, different eye shapes and
types, movements and ways they communicate using sounds and gestures, even warnings before attacking a predator. And then
of course, there are our beloved animals that we choose to live with us and care for. Holding or petting an animal if it is safe to for you and the creature can be one of the most therapeutic "treatments" in existence! The softness and warmth, or connection
humans can experience often gives hope. Many find their animals will be there for them, non-judgmentally, no matter what they look like, achieve or what mood they are in. Again, try to
take in the softness, or loving from animals in your home, and the amazing survival skills and forms, even patterns that differentiate one from another in less domesticated creatures. Enjoy being in
their presence, even if sadness is present, or irritation tugs, you can really learn to hang out with both. In specialized styles of counseling, these practices of managing two seemingly opposing
emotions can be taught.
The final area I will mention for now is beauty in others you see every day,
just walking down the street, getting out of a car, or in an office or cafe. Especially for women who obsess about their body shape or size, or compartmentalize the body into parts rather than being
experienced as a smooth wholeness, it is so important that you look at what is beautiful in others with appreciation instead of comparing yourself mercilessly to them, or the other way around!
When you are criticizing yourself thinking you are not pretty or handsome enough, fearing you are going to or have gained weight, or are too thin or weak looking, poorly dressed, too short or tall, add
something to those constant distortions. Just pick a feature of another person in your view that you can find beauty in, learn to notice and appreciate small details of the way one walks or puts him or
herself together in their style, coloring, or accessories. This is different than a superficial focus, but
more of an artist's view and experience. Practicing this can help you really appreciate similar things about you (or at least look at yourself in a different way), and lighten the harshness that had
become a habit, or even a belief about who you are. You can start to listen to what is authentic and get what has really been so
untrue all along. Most importantly, what another radiates from within just walking into a room, or when in a deep conversation with
you or another person, can be so effective for you to note in an newly open way. Once more this alternative focus can change your
sense of yourself, your heart, and your insights, in many ways enrich your spirit.
There are countless forms of beauty everywhere that you can introduce yourself to as far as an addition to what you note each
day. Just imagine taking the first step by getting out of the house or office even if there is a little push needed. You may need
some more guidance if there is deep depression, overwhelming anxiety or an extremely low self-worth, as you look forward to
getting started. I or another professional who specializes in those arenas would be glad to help, yet I really believe that you can already begin to make a difference in your existence.
Carol Jaron, MFT