Is Your Obsession (or Neglect) of your body a Cover for Your Real Pain?
Why are you so obsessed with taking pictures of yourself with your shirt off?
Why do you have to take 100 pictures of your body before you get one you like?
Why are you always lifting your shirt up and flexing in the mirror?
Why are audibly and inaudibly (in your head) comparing yourself with everybody everywhere you go based on how muscular and ripped they are compared to you?
If you are like any of my siblings growing up maybe you have asked these questions of a friend, family member, loved one or peer. I was the guy who was always in front of the mirror trying to see if I looked any bigger than before. I was the one always requesting of my siblings to take another picture from a better angle. I was the one who always had to immediately scan a room to see if I was the buffest and most muscular in the room.
If you have any social media accounts you may realize the extent of this phenomenon. Call it body worship, body obsession or whatever you want to call it but it has created an entirely different virtual culture that has totally changed how we view health, fitness, and ultimately ourselves. We can’t run from it, avoid it or brush over it anymore as this disease of “never enough” in the form of body image obsessive compulsive dysmorphia passes on to our children and to their children.
Why do We Obsess Over Our Body
Is this obsession with how we look and how our body is perceived by others a narcissistic compulsion because we think we truly are “all that and a bag of chips” and just want to toot our own horn everywhere?
Or is it a symptom of something deeper?
Could it be our outer attempt to compensate for an inner lack? Could it be a cover or façade we have created to hide from, run from and avoid a deeper pain? Could it be simply be a shield we have manufactured to disguise and conceal our REAL self from scrutiny and exposure?
As I have probed deeper into my own behaviors, beliefs and perceptions I have been surprised and humbled by what I found. I have realized how much my outer seeking in the form of body worship and body image obsessive compulsive disorder is a cover for my real pain and feelings of inadequacy.
Do You Have Napoleon Syndrome?
Have you ever known someone whose temperament, degree of aggression and outer showmanship didn’t match their physical characteristics?
Napoleon complex is a theorized inferiority complex normally attributed to people who are short in stature. Also known as “Little man syndrome” it is a condition where undersized individuals (most often men) attempt to compensate for their smallness by physically, or otherwise, asserting their presence.
It has everything to do with the way the individual perceives him/herself or believes that other people perceive them. I realized deep down that this was the real source of pain for me, and for countless others who use their body shaping and bodybuilding efforts as a defense mechanism.
I Experienced Body Obsession for a Different Reason Than I Thought
Even though I am 6’ 1” I am the shortest of the 5 males in my family. I also seem to be the only one who inherited the androgenic alopecia gene, allowing me to experience hair loss at a younger age than the rest. These things built in me a cultural and familial feeling of being “less than” and not up to snuff.
So, feeling insufficient and inadequate about myself the only way I knew to try and avoid and run from the pain of that feeling was to try and perfect the outer shell of my body in other ways. I have realized I am not alone in this experience. The cultural, social and societal pressures to ‘fit in’ and comform is so real that it contributes to this internal inferiority complex that drives people to extremes with their body.
Do YOU Have Little Man Syndrome (Even if You’re Tall?)
I wonder how many individuals, whether they realize it or not, are afflicted to some degree with little man syndrome? Regardless of their actual physical stature and characteristics, deep down they feel and perceive that their bodies don’t measure up in some way. So, like me, they may go to extremes, trying to perfect the outer crust of who they think they are to fill a void they feel inside.
Are you going out of your way to maintain and project an external image of a healthy, fit, model-esque person who has it all together? Are you constantly in front of the mirror critiquing and criticizing what you see? Are you fixated on what you see as “imperfect” and feel mired in guilt, shame or compare-itis when you evaluate yourself? The culture we live in has made it pretty easy to do this. But why?
The Real Reason We Are Obsessed
The root problem is that you don’t feel whole and complete within yourself.
I know that it is true of my own experience. And no amount of effort to perfect my body in and of itself has ever stopped this cycle of body obsession.
The way we are engineered we will always seek someone and something to cover up our pain. We hide behind finances, people, fame, adoration and body obsession or neglect.
The weight and body image challenges we face collectively and individually simply cannot be approached from an exclusively physiologic perspective anymore.
It is clear they haven’t helped Read This to find out more.
What is seen on the outer surface as challenges with health, weight and body image are only ever symptoms of this underlying emotional, psychological and spiritual dis-ease. Yet many individuals may not be ready to come to this conclusion or face the reality of what is the source of their pain.
The Source of All Pain is I AM NOT ENOUGH
This dis-ease is the belief at our core that we are not enough as we are.
A spiritual teacher of our day has phrased it this way:
“Our problem as humans isn’t that we are inadequate, wrong, or broken; OUR PROBLEM IS THAT WE BELIEVE WE ARE. This fundamental misconception underlies every other problem, dysfunction, and pain we have. “ (The Energy Codes; Sue Morter)
Your REAL pain will never go away until you learn this,
This problem is inside yourself for which you are attempting to solve with external things. I have learned that the outer self will always try to convince you that you have to change something outside of you to solve your inner problems.
You are laboring under the illusion that once you chisel in that six pack and fit into those size 4 jeans you will finally have arrived and feel better about yourself. I know because I played that game for years. But to the ego it is never enough. You will never be skinny, muscular, toned, sexy looking enough for the ego. It is a game you will never win.
Are You Avoiding Pain?
A monumental effort to avoid core pain is why you’re trying to prove yourself.
This can lead to you becoming so hypersensitive you can’t go a day without getting hurt, offended or feeling down.
As long as you are afraid of the pain, you will devote most of your energy in protecting yourself from the pain. Because you can’t handle the pain, you will react by closing yourself in order to protect yourself. Your mind will then be prone to build an entire psychological structure around this closed energy, walling off your deeper self from anything and everything that could harm it.
People think that their body and the way it looks (or doesn’t look) is the problem. It is not.
You are the problem as long as you are run by the ego or false self.
Those who become angry, agitated or disturbed when they are told that the problem is not outside them but from within them are run by the ego. This is an indication that the dis-ease has become part of their sense of self.
I believe the foundation of our health and well-being lies, not in our how we look or our external appearance, but in how we feel about ourselves.
To me, becoming my best self physically is a deeply spiritual and emotional journey. It is more than just counting calories, choosing better foods, pushing myself in the gym or chasing the pain of a new and novel stimulus.
It is a process of self-discovery and, most importantly, self-acceptance.
Even after becoming a more meticulous eater and pushing myself to new heights in the gym to develop my physique I will be the first to point out all of its flaws, deficiencies and imperfections. For me, I believe the real secret to becoming my healthiest, fittest AND happiest self was when I made peace with my body.
Are you ready to end the war you have waged with your body for so long?
What will it take for you to finally make peace with your body?
You are enough. You are more than enough right now the way your body is. When you are ready to let go of the real pain you will begin to see the innate perfection interwoven in every cell and tissue of your body. It is in this space of a union of outer and inner selves that your body will naturally drift to its perfect size, shape, weight, appearance and function without all the struggle and pain.
For more about HOW you can learn to love and accept yourself today, Read This