Written by: Kristin Cancilla & Stephanie Padilla
In a recent article in the Huffington Post, written by Jennifer Aniston, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/for-the-record_us_57855586e4b03fc3ee4e626f) she deals with the struggle she has encountered with paparazzi and the media, and their daily “sport-like scrutiny and body shaming”. She describes how she is “an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues,” and calls the trend “absurd and disturbing.”
When I first read her blog I, too, felt the violation Jennifer was describing. I immediately sent the post to my Belief-Shifting teacher, Stephanie Padilla, and told her I thought there were several topics that would be great to cover in one of our blogs. Of course, being Stephanie, she asked what I thought the topic should be. I listed several: how, in order to heal our minds from false messages, we must first recognize where the messages we receive are coming from; the effect our judging mind has on how we perceive the people and world around us; how we can come to self-acceptance and how, as we begin to accept and love ourselves, we can then accept and love others. . .
However, while all of these things likely have merit, Stephanie pointed me to a different question: What is the emotion that Ms. Aniston is displaying? And what is the trigger? These are questions that Stephanie encourages me to ask with any client who comes to me upset by circumstances in the world. We ask those questions to begin the journey of insight into the mind.
The answer was immediately clear. Jennifer is angry. She is angry and what the media is doing is triggering her anger. In Belief-Shifting we learn that the trigger is just something that the mind sees in the world that activates a belief in the sub-conscious. We also learn that the emotion is the way the subconscious mind speaks to us and gives us guidance about what to do about what it sees.
So Jennifer feels angry and the message the sub-conscious mind is sending Jennifer is to attack. Her mind is perceiving a threat and it says, ‘Attack!’. So she writes an article that dresses down the media for its role in “body-shaming” and “dehumanizing” of women. They are the cause of women’s and little girls’ lack of self-worth and feelings of shame.
But is Jennifer correct? Is the media the reason we, as women, place our worth on having perfect bodies, or being married or having children?
We all better hope that this is not true. Because if it is true, we have little hope. As Jennifer herself laments, “From years of experience, I’ve learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon.” If they are unlikely to change and our sense of worth and well-being rests in their hands, then we have a big problem indeed!
And, even Jennifer offers an alternative. She said, “What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are.”
Yes! I thought. That’s what we need to do. Reject the message.
But, when Stephanie asked me to look at what Jennifer was doing, she was asking me to see what I was doing by jumping on the bandwagon with Jennifer. That rejecting the message was still a way of keeping it. Because, in order for me to reject the message, I first had to believe that it was possible for me to have little or no worth.
It is only if I view the world around me through the lens of shame, and carry the belief that it is possible for me to have little or no worth, that I would think that my worth could be challenged or that I need to defend it or protect it. Think about it. You don’t argue over anything that is obviously true. You only argue about things that are a matter of opinion.
Stephanie also wanted me to see that only my mind could believe this – my Spirit already knows my infinite value and feels no need to defend what it obviously true. It is my mind that needs to be healed from the false belief that it is possible that my worth could be questioned or attacked.
So, although Jennifer is portraying the problem as being the media’s constant harassment, half-truths, and lies, the real issue resides within her, just as it resides within me. In order for her, and me, to heal from suffering, we must first see that we have chosen to believe our worth could even possibly be questioned. Once any of us becomes aware of this and releases this belief, we can no longer be affected by what anyone, including the media, says or does.
It may be true that the world is telling us that we need to better, faster, stronger, thinner, richer, smarter, or any number of other things. But that message will only affect us IF WE BELIEVE IT. We will only jump into action if we agree with the premise of the message, which is that my worth must be established and protected. Jennifer Aniston sees that these messages are lies, but she is reacting to them in this manner – by being “fed up” and angry – because deep down, somewhere in her subconscious, she agrees that they are possible.
Now, I’m sure many of you reading this post might be thinking, ‘How dare you say that Jen is causing her own suffering!’ But that is, in fact, what is going on. And thank goodness for that! Think about it. If our suffering is really caused by something outside of ourselves – be it the paparazzi, our parents, our churches, or our spouses – then there is really very little that we can do to heal it. But if WE are the ones causing our own suffering, then WE can CHOOSE to let the thoughts and beliefs associated with the suffering go. And that is great news! We don’t need to change the outside world. We simply need to heal our own mind!