Posts tagged naked self
Stripped: Appearances & (hair) Conditioning
Paige Geffen_Stripped Conditioning

Last week I got an accidental haircut.  I went in for a complimentary touch-up (less than a trim) and came out with 4 inches of less hair.  I cried as soon as I stepped out of the salon door and continued in my car for the whole hour-long drive home, and for two more days after.  I felt ugly, but more specifically - I didn’t feel like myself.  When I looked in the mirror, I felt like a stranger in my own skin.  I’ve had so many different haircuts and styles over the last three and half years, so I was surprised by my reaction.  I had very long hair for most of my life and decided to chop it in 2014.  This initial cut was such a freeing experience, and has continued to be over the last few years.  I was once told that I would only look good with long hair, and I truly felt that was true... until I cut it.  I felt like I didn’t have to hide behind my long locks anymore.  I can feel pretty and sexy and confident with short hair?  Yes, and even more so than I had ever felt before.  Why? Perhaps because it was an external form of stripping (in this case shedding).  Shedding the physical hair, yet also the ideas and lies I had been fed and continued to feed myself.  “I’m not the kind of person who looks good like x.”  I’ve since experimented with many lengths ranging from my chin to my shoulder, and a few different styles of bangs.  So why was this recent haircut such a shock?  Beyond not setting out to do it on purpose and it being such a drastic change - conditioning.  In this case, I felt like I couldn’t have hair shorter than my chin because I have a strong jaw and long chin, and therefore the proportions of my face would be accentuated in an unflattering way. 

I have felt like that often throughout my life, and not just with my hair, but also with much deeper subjects.  This conditioning can be so insideous.  In the beginning of this year, I vowed for unapologetic self-acceptance.  I believe this haircut has been a small part of that journey.  After I let myself cry and complain and feel the emotions, I knew I had to face myself.  Why am I so hung up on how I look?  Why do specific hairstyles help me to feel like me?  This is a heavy topic.  What makes us who we are?  Our hair certainly has nothing to do with it.  How can I learn to feel “like myself” right now, without something that shapes my identity in the way I want to be seen?  I’m not going to wait for my hair to grow out again to be able to sigh and go, “okay now I feel better.”  Fuck that.  That is such a restricted, stifled way to live, and I’ve lived too much of my life that way already.  So I went within.  I listened.  What came up is that I still seek approval from my mom.  I don’t allow this to effect my actions (hence cutting my hair off and dying it red as a teenager and chopping it again a few years ago), yet I still want her to think I’m beautiful.  Because she put so much emphasis on beauty during my upbringing.  Because she was always more noticed and accepted for her beauty than I was.  This is all bullshit because it has nothing to do with the truth.  It simply stems from barriers I created as a result of the environment I was conditioned in.  Once this clear truth (the truth of the conditioning) came through, I was able to let it go.  I talked to her.  I told her she was beautiful and had something to offer the world.  I told her that my hair has nothing to do with her (something she already knows), that she is who she is regardless of appearances, circumstances and beyond.  She is infinite.  She is my essence.  In her highest self, she has no fear.  She is always in the truth, and she is courageous in her truth.  She is me.  I am her.  

I know this, yet I get caught up in my humanness (as humans do).  In my appearance, my identity.  So what’s all of that for?  Perhaps mirages for us to grow through and overcome.  Yet also, without our identities, we would all appear the same.  The beautiful thing about the external world is that we get to choose.  We get to choose how we present ourselves - with our clothing, hairstyles, spaces.  We have the freedom of self-expression.  What hairstyle (and outfits and home items) would you choose if you broke down some of the conditioning around identity?  If you detached from your identity and made choices from your truest form, without trying to prove anything to yourself or others?  In this case, I didn’t make the choice of how my hair would look, but I choose to embrace it - to see myself clearly regardless.  The importance does not lie in the choice itself, it lies in the intention behind it.  When we don’t have motives, or when the only motive we have is to feel connected to ourselves, we become free.

Photo by Jamie Arrigo

Stripped: I Am Enough
Paige Geffen_St. Agni_Claire Cottrell

I’ve always known this intellectually, that I am enough.  I am whole on my own.  I don’t need anyone or anything to aid in being enough.  Yet, as I’ve been examining areas and experiences in my life, I’m finding that I’m not fully “there” yet.  I still at times experience guilt and shame for simply being me.  This is absolutely from past conditioning, which I’m working on stripping (it’s a process), hence the name of this series. 

When I dove into the feeling of not being enough, I realized that it has in the past manifested as presenting myself a certain way in order to be seen for who I am.  This has typically been tied to my possessions, not my personality.  It was extremely difficult to accept this as true because I’ve never used my “things” to prove anything to others.  But I have used my things as a way to feel like myself.  Perhaps it was filling myself with a false sense of authenticity - even if the objects resonated with me.  This is why I stress that this work is rooted in the relationship we have with our objects, not the objects themselves.  I can only be myself and feel like myself in my nakedness.  So when I’m seeking something from them (objects), I am unable to seek the same subject or theme from myself.  In simpler terms - I’m looking in the wrong places.  I have everything I need within, so when I look to external sources, even for self-confirmation of any kind (even if the sources are healthy people we love or ethical objects we love), I’m reverberating that in some capacity, I am not enough.

Lately, I’ve been going through the process of ridding myself of almost all of my things.  Not because I made the decision to, or wanted to, but because in a higher sense I am being asked to.  I’m simply choosing to follow that nudge.  At the same time, I’ve had some illuminating, painful, and beautiful realizations and “aha” moments (through Unblocked Reparent, meditation, and other intuitive work).  I realized that growing up, I had to deny so many parts of myself in order to exist in my environment - I was not able to simply be me.   The process I’m going through now - while incredibly uncomfortable - feels like a beautiful gift.  A gift of being born again, in order to rise as my true self.  I’ve been given a clean slate, to metaphorically go back into the womb, as a gestation period.  So rather than adding things into my life to fill any emptiness I may be feeling, I’m shedding life as I know it (ideas, ways of being, things) in order to open the space for me to be enough without any of it - with nothing but my naked self.  I have no crutch to fall back on, and I don’t need one.  No one does.

This work is not about curating a perfect lifestyle.  It’s about warmth and invitation - to yourself.  Your needs, desires, fears, flaws.  It’s an invitation to all of it.  To examine it so that you can form a new relationship with yourself in order grow.  Just like our relationships with people, our objects are our mirrors.  Examine each one of your objects.  First check-in with yourself, and then ask the object - what are you here for?  What are you showing me?

If you are looking to go deeper into this work, you can book a one-on-one session here

Photo by Claire Cottrell.

Stripped: Ready to be Seen
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Free of makeup
heat or product to my hair
this is me
The marks on my legs show the millions of miles I have walked in this lifetime
the crevices of my hands allude to the many objects and many skins I have touched
all of those miles and those things and those people have not changed me, or altered me, or created me.
They have stripped me
to bring me to me.

Before acquiring objects, it is important to first come home to ourselves.  Objects are inanimate without us.  We give them purpose, significance, and life.  We bring them home.  Give them the truest home they can have.  Give them you.  Read more about this in Our Philosophy.