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How To Let Go

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posted on Jul, 18 2008 @ 12:03 PM
Do you know?

Some of us who are completely normal in every other respect become obsessed with certain aspects of ourselves and eventually it begins to be unhealthy.

For some people this obsession is possessions. Their car. Their home. Their furniture. Their home theatre. They spend years of their life working to acquire this stuff and yet it's never enough. They're happy with it for a while but then version 6.7 comes out and suddenly the one they already own is now completely inadequate.

For others, it is their station in their career. They won't stop until they reach the top of the ladder, the corner offfice, the perks, the recognition, the title. Still others care most about their social position. Getting invited to the best parties, knowing the right people, being popular in the upper eschelons of society.

For myself it is beauty. I wouldn't say my preoccupation with it is a full blown obsession; I don't think about it all the time. But it is definitely in the back of my mind every single day, just waiting for a chance to prod me. Any time I leave the house I am wondering if I look good enough. Any time I pass a reflective surface, I'm checking to see if I still look alright, even though I know nothing has changed. Is my makeup still perfect? Are my curls still curly? Do I look fat in this?

It started out as a natural desire to want to be attractive. Isn't that natural in every person? But after I outgrew the blessed childhood phase of not caring how you look, I never felt adequate again. I always needed something more to feel pretty. To lose 10 pounds, buy this shampoo, wear this label, get this hairstyle, fix this, change that.

The hard part is the constant, neverending comparison of myself to others. Any time I'm in the direct vicinity of another woman a comparison results. All of life is a competition for who can look prettiest. Every girl in a tv commercial, every model in a magazine is instantly my unwitting competitor. I consider myself attractive, but I always feel I fall short, that I could be so much more attractive if I could only do this. I'm the target audience of advertising because if it will make me look better I want it.

I've tried to let go of this unhealthy preoccupation with an unnatural, unobtainable beauty. Yes, I know that adverts are all airbrushed and people don't really look like that. I know that the standard of beauty advertised is purposely unobtainable so women like me will keep buying the products. So why can't I deal with this fake beauty like the BS that it is and forget about it? Why do I still want it so badly?

How many people have desires they know are unhealthy and realize are brought on by advertising? Why do we let advertisements dictate how we see ourselves, who we want to be? Can we even help it?

Or do you know how to let go of such things?

posted on Jul, 18 2008 @ 12:14 PM
Well, let's start with what you have done to try and end this obsession? It will require one step forward, two steps back for a long time until you eventually work yourself out of this habit.

I know it sounds overused, but truly acknowledging the problem is the first step. You have made yourself aware of the behavior so now you can stop it. Again, though, it will take time and it will take setbacks.

And please, don't say "I've tried that and it didn't work." Chances are, most things won't work at first. If you really want to stop, then persistence to rid yourself of the behavior will be the key to your success.

posted on Jul, 18 2008 @ 12:24 PM
reply to post by Alora

That's another aspect of the problem. Do I really even want to stop? I want to stop caring so much but I don't want to stop looking hot
, which takes a lot of work.

I guess basically I want to stop being the plaything of advertisements. I want to seek beauty because I want it, not because I am being manipulated to want it.

posted on Jul, 18 2008 @ 12:40 PM

Originally posted by sc2099
reply to post by Alora

That's another aspect of the problem. Do I really even want to stop? I want to stop caring so much but I don't want to stop looking hot
, which takes a lot of work.

I guess basically I want to stop being the plaything of advertisements. I want to seek beauty because I want it, not because I am being manipulated to want it.

That's cool, too!
If you don't want to stop it, then own it! Claim it proudly and anyone who doesn't like it can kiss off.

posted on Jul, 18 2008 @ 01:01 PM
I just wanted to commend you for posting this. I think that was a brave thing to do. I don't think I have any of the kind of attachments comparable to what you're talking about, but as I read your post, I found myself feeling sorry for you that you don't (apparently?) accept your beauty as it is. I'm sure you're gorgeous.

I wonder what it is you strive for. I wonder... if you got to be the most beautiful, perfect person in the world, what do you think would happen? What would you experience as Number one, most gorgeous person of all time? What experience are you looking for?

Security? Self-Love? Attention? I think that's where I would start looking.

[edit on 18-7-2008 by Benevolent Heretic]

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 12:13 AM
reply to post by Benevolent Heretic

Thanks so much for your kind words, Benevolent. I really appreciate it. You're a woman so I'm sure you must know the pressure we're all under in 2008 to be flawless. How do you keep it from getting to you?

I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to be satisfied about that aspect of myself since I haven't been since childhood. I guess the reward would be that people would view me in a positive light. It would be like a safety net and if I failed at everything else in life at least I would have that to fall back on. And I would never feel compelled to waste money on beauty products again!

Thanks again for the thoughtful reply.

reply to post by Alora

Thanks for your support!

No one else out there has any sort of preoccupation? I find it hard to believe that in a place like ATS no one has any nagging feeling about anything. Beauty was only an example for myself.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 01:19 AM
I used to have the same problem. With looks but more so with intelligence. I always wanted to be the prettiest and the smartest. I think what helped me was really owning the fact that there is ALWAYS going to be someone prettier and smarter.

Also, I learned not to care what others thought. It is a very easy thing to say but it's hard to really trully believe it. I have an exercise for you to try if you are willing that has really helped me out. Try going around with NO makeup on and don't fix your hair. Just pull it on top of your head in a ponytail... Then you look in the mirror and tell yourself, this is me... this is who I am. I am still a beautiful person, inside and out. The first few times you go into public like this you feel embarrased. But it is suppose to teach you to OWN who you really are. Quit hiding behind the mask that you put on everyday. Except yourself for who you really are. After you do this for a while then you eventually feel comfortable with who you are and you can do it all the time and it really helps with time. You know, not having to get all 'made up'.

I think the whole thing is about you connecting your self worth to what others think instead of what you feel about yourself.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 02:45 AM
*male enters thread*

Let's see. Well, I'm torn between:

- ranting about the poison of the mainstream and all it's ideas of what 'beauty' is
- following up on the rant by ranting on what my idea of beauty is, which I believe is completely objective, no matter how egotistical that sounds
- pointing out the admirable qualities of you realizing you have sort of been tugged along for a ride by the world

Maybe I'll start with something else, and you can choose if you want me to insert said rants later on, because it really wouldn't be a chore.

I don't often get the sort of ideals from people as you are giving. Sure, I am always hearing the I-need-to-be-this-way-or-I'll-never-be-pretty thing from women, whom I tend to reprimand pretty swiftly these days (for better or for worse), but what I mean is I don't see many people come to the realization that they themselves are in a cycle society has sort of forged for them, feeling frustrated at it all. Me, I'm always upset at the sheer amount of information around, for example. Not the information itself, but the fact that we've glorified OPINION so much when it comes to important matters, it's no wonder nobody knows anything. Go to the bookstore when somebody tells you to 'be informed' and just try to be informed with the 100+ books on the same subject, each author with his/her own opinion, grouped together as equal. Before the actual burning of the books takes place in our world, we will be sure to confuse and make helpless as many people as possible. It's amazingly hard to find out the real truth about anything these days, and I'm frustrated that everyone is living in that and some of them are making it worse by not even caring. I could say water is wet and be criticized for calling it a fact.

So I can relate and easily understand that part of your problem. As for any struggles within my 'gender role' (going back to what I just said, why do we like to slap OPINION on things like history and politics, but not things like gender where it's a more accurate ideal?), I can't say I have any, as a man. My hangups mainly stem from frustration and dread of what others will preconceive of me..different breeds of women all having different SET IDEAS of what all men are, usually comprising of negatives, and I have to foot the bill for the rest of my gender. I feel that masculinity and femininity are being assaulted in different ways by society, but the end result is assailing all the same. I certainly feel pity for women who are the victims - the ones that don't give in and become robots, but keep being beat down upon by the world. Men are not attacked in that way. The pressure isn't the same. We are just being dumbed down and demoralized by different sources, a byproduct of what happens to be permanent damage to masculinity and the public idea of what that is and means.

I guess I did rant, didn't I? But not completely about what I said I was going to. I can still do that if you'd be interested and wouldn't take it as an attempt to pick you up (see 'footing the misconception bill'
). I *am* extremely interested in doing or saying what I can to sort of pick up any pieces of this sort of thing that I may come across.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 03:16 AM
I am a female, and I am glad I look decent, but I am NOT obsessed with my looks, and I do not particularly feel pressured by media to look perfect. Maybe, just maybe, the why part might help you a little.

One, I work with mostly men. (I am a plumber) They really just dont care as much about the little details of appearance that women seem to think they do. They dont tend to notice your shoes, or your eyeshadow, they are looking at other things entirely. Not just the stereotypical things you might think I am referring to, either.

Two, I cant be "perfect" by the media standard all day doing what I do. I get dirty. Oily. I brush the hair out of my eyes and leave black streaks on my face. My hair comes out of my braid and looks all scruffy by the end of the day.

Three, despite all the above, I get my fair share of attention from the male gender. I think what men really find attractive, (if it is about other people being attracted to you, I dont want to assume) is someone who is confident, both in their looks and in their femininity. I dont feel one bit less feminine because I am in the trades. I am just a dirty, sweaty, female with little or no makeup on.

You asked in your original post "how to let go." The answer I think is that you cant worry about the how, you just have to DO it. Just stop doing certain things, and see how much they matter. Go out without makeup, even if just to a store where no one knows you. Spend some time unadorned and get comfortable with it. Stop wearing makeup at home, so you get used to how you look without it. (I know at first you feel naked, but after a while when you see really "done up" faces, even your own, they look kind of clownish) Give yourself the experience of being accepted, and liked for your natural self. Success breeds success. If you do it, and the world doesnt end, you will be more comfortable doing it more.

Trust men more. They arent all as shallow and superficial as some magazines and ads may make it seem. They are really pretty cool for the most part, and they like all kinds of women.

Dont assume all other women are in competition with you, or judging you. I am not. My best friends arent either. We like when other women succeed or are happy. (And men too) I am happy for women more beautiful than I am, but only if it hasnt trapped them. Beauty is nice to have, while you have it, but if it has you, rather than you having it, it seems a bit more of a curse than a blessing. I dont wish women like that ugliness, what I do wish for them is the security of knowing that they are so much more than just hair, clothes and makeup.

Definitely read less womens magazines, and stop watching certain kinds of TV shows. You already know they are preying on you.

Good luck. I think realizing you are stuck in a pattern is the first and most important step to getting out of it.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 03:23 AM
You are doing the 'they' thing with men but you're doing it in sort of a nice way so I guess I can let it go.
Still though, can't always speak for everybody. I do find confidence attractive, but 'confidence' can also be a complex term, and although I don't like it, I also know there are men whom your confidence has zero to do with anything they think of you. I think most (not all) assumed roles and such are disinformation, but there's already a thread about that on somewhere else....

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 03:44 AM
If someone can come up with the end all and BE all of 'How To Let Go' then Oprah will be booking them for her show pretty soon.

I think this is a deep question and many people wish they knew how to just.....let go.
I can have obsessive thoughts that keep me awake at night......and I want to let go of them. I try and let go....every night...and every time they come up...

Once something is no longer important to me I can let go of it easy....I wish I knew how to put the things I obsess over into the 'unimportant pile'.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 03:49 AM
I agree that there are some men who are very superficial and judgmental. I tried to say "not all men" to emphasize that same point, that one cant generalize but I guess I was a little sloppy. There are also women, (for the sake of clarity) who are competitive and sort of "catty."

Your point that people are really individuals and have to be sorted out as such is a very good one, and cannot be emphasized enough.

I have been very lucky I suppose, in that MOST of the men and women I run across seem to be pretty cool once you get past the initial reserve a lot of us have.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 04:11 AM
Hi. I'm a guy. My opinion doesn't "seem" to matter much to most women, because it "seems" to me that most women find me un-date-able, and therefore stupid or boring or something. I don't think I'm any of those things, but ah what the heck? It gives me more time to read. If a woman is meant to happen for me, it will happen. I really don't dwell on it (especially after my very last girlfriend).

Anyway... from the perspective of someone who's never cared about their image... Back when I didn't know better, I would often look at the mirror and the face before me, although it "seemed" as though I was looking back at myself with my eyes, my mind could never connect too well with it. I would sometimes stare for like an hour straight and try seeing me, but all I saw was this skinny misshapen pattern of flesh that never seems to work right or get me what I desire. I was really depressed about it for a real long time. The media and the people who were supposed to be my friends definitely didn't help much. You want to talk about wondering whether you look pretty or not... How about wondering whether you look human enough? Without make up.... without fat... without pimples or bad hair or clashing styles of clothing or being dirty or being smelly or being all the crap that people obsess over. What about constantly being in fear of rejection for not being "normal" looking?

Like I have said in a previous thread or two, I have a jaw deformity (which is being corrected soon, after ortho and all) and it causes me to have some speech problems... and talk about your bad hair days or your messy make up days... How about every day no matter what, even little children staring and judging you like you're wrong? Walking into a room and feeling everyone's energy pull away from letting you in because you're automatically wrong for just existing in their comfortable little fantasy world where everyone should look at the minimum "TV ugly" (although,I sometimes am afraid of how bent that view of ugly is getting. Ugly Betty??? Ugly friggin' Betty? THAT is what society is being brainwashed to think UGLY is? That girl is beautiful.). Every eye is a knife into your side. Every smirk is someone pushing you down to the ground in a violent unprovoked psychic attack.

Like I said, I've mostly gotten over these things... but I notice it getting worse... and to be honest, beauty is a state of mind. A body could be completely disfigured and mangled, but the being controlling that body is the thing that really matters.

I could either feel sorry and take pity upon you, or I could tell you how it really is, and you could take responsibility upon yourself to realize what you are and what you aren't. In the TRULY REAL WORLD, you would not have make up, shampoo, deodorant, curling irons, tanning salons, nonfat yogurt, those body sprays... all that just STUFF. You would have your body, the water, and maybe at the most an animal pelt or a roughly knitted outfit, probably JUST ONE.

I wish I was you sometimes, so I could get lost in the illusion of skin deep beauty.... because I'm a man. I have desires. I like hot women.... but that's the thing... I have chosen not to pursue women anymore, because it will forever be a shallow effort that beats me down. Men are shallow. Women are competitive about appealing to their shallow nature, in in turn they become shallow about image as well. It's messed up. So I'm done with it. We are so much more than this body, and we're just a few million celebrity faces, beauty product and beer commercials away from realizing it. I often wonder if not the very society itself programs our beliefs about what human beauty is? We get fed the line "Oh thin women with this and that are a sign of good child bearing traits."

Oh yeah? The why are C-sections so common amongst young thin and pretty women these days? Those child bearing traits seem a little less desirable if a girl can't fit a baby through her passageway.

Society is not reality. The first part is accepting that the Matrix is real, in probably a worse way than in the movie. In the movie, you could just take a pill and unplug... but here, the only way to escape is the cold dark woods or potential suicide. It's one hell of a tough illusion to get past.

This wasn't meant as an angry or offensive post to the OP. I am just ranting.

I don't even know what I just said.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 04:32 AM
reply to post by dunwichwitch

That was a really good post. And in it, I think I see a little fragment of the how to let things go answer. Though not likely the be all and end all answer some have mentioned.

I think one part of how to let go, that I use, is that I do remember that no matter what I am going through, someone else has it harder.

You made me think of that when you said you wished you could be someone who didnt have your own difficulty. It made me think of my own childhood. While I was not suffering a jaw deformity, I had my own issues. I was raised in foster care, in a place where my ethnic group was actively and frequently violently discriminated against. I really didnt want to be me either.

I really related to your looking at yourself in the mirror, though for me, I just looked in my own mind and heart and wondered why no one could see me for who I was, and why my own family didnt love me enough to keep me, and why I had to put up with the nasty names I was called, being given away over and over again, etc. I know that feeling of eyes looking at you and the hostility, or rejection. I have seen it a LOT in my younger years.

How I made it through was to tell myself, (and I am not a Bible thumper) that the Lord never gives us more than we can bear. I also reminded myself that no matter how hard I thought my life was, there was always someone who had it worse. Some people come home to find their entire family murdered by insurgents, some are tortured, some seem to have it all, beauty, brains and money, but they are miserable and dont even have the hope of "if only I had..." to comfort them.

Looking at life through the eyes of someone less fortunate than you, is a very good way to ease the pain of letting go. Spending some portion of your day thinking of what other people are going through is a very good way to stop focusing on your self obsessively.

Very inspirational post. I am so glad you wrote it.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 04:59 AM
My obsession is my family. I worry about them entirely too much.

My children are in their 30's and I'm learning to let go with them and now it's my grandchildren I want to have a perfect world.

It breaks my heart for even the tiniest thing to go wrong in their lives. I honestly don't think I'll ever be able to let go on that.

Now, your problem with beauty is a familiar one for me. Well, it was 40 years ago.

I had to be perfectly made up, dressed and tanned. The money I spent on my looks would be nice to have now.

After my first divorce I met and married a man that was a very natural person. The first time he saw me without make up and my hair all perfect he said he didn't realize I was so beautiful. I never used make up again after that day. That was 34 years ago.

We divorced after 5 years. I never had a problem attracting men after that. I took pride in being a natural woman. Make up is not natural. It reminds me of an animal mating ritual. YUCK. Get all painted up to attract men and scare off other women.

I have also learned to not care what others think of my outward appearance. If they judge me by what I look like then they are shallow and I don't care to know them.

Learning to live without putting on a false front is mind altering. I look at some women and wonder if there is anything to them beyond make up, perfect hair, indoor tans, and what they think is their sexy look.

I have known men that are very into outward beauty. They like the dressing on their little arm puppet.

It takes me less than 20 minutes to get showered and ready to leave my house. I love to air dry my hair. Heck with the curling iron, make up, and all the other junk. I'm wash and go. I love it.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 07:17 AM

Originally posted by sc2099
How do you keep it from getting to you?

I'm older now, but years ago, I used to spend hours getting ready in the morning, doing my hair and makeup. One day, I realized how much time I spent doing that and thought about the idea of putting on a "mask" to go out and meet the public and that just really didn't make sense. If people were going to like me, why did I feel I had to put on a mask? Was I not good enough that I had to cover the real me with something "presentable"?

So I took a risk. I didn't wear ANY makeup one day to work. (I took it with me just in case). There was a guy I was attracted to and worked with. We sat pretty close and talked for a while. I asked him if he noticed anything different about me. He looked and looked, and finally said, "No. What is it"? I realized that all the hard work I put into being "beautiful" was WASTED! The one guy I cared about didn't even NOTICE. I haven't worn makeup since.

My husband doesn't even like makeup. And my skin is nice and clean and tight. I notice the skin around my sister's eyes is real paper thin and "loose". She has spent years removing mascara every night. That wears on the sensitive skin of the face.

My skin is great and my hair is healthy and beautiful because I never put anything on it. No heat, no "product". Mine is a natural beauty and I've gotten used to it and now, I look funny when I do occasionally put makeup on.

So, for me, it was about taking a big risk.
And it paid off! I have saved thousands of dollars that the cosmetics industry would LOVE to have had.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 07:32 AM

Originally posted by sc2099
I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to be satisfied about that aspect of myself since I haven't been since childhood. I guess the reward would be that people would view me in a positive light.

I do hope the op does not take this in the wrong way, but its not about “advertising” or makeup or fashion or looking perfect; its about worrying what other people think of you. Your statement above reflects that. You live in a world where you constantly feel on stage, you worry how people see you, if another woman is around you worry she is seen as prettier etc…

If you really want to combat the issue, try to change your focus. Instead of wondering how others view you every second, instead of constantly asking yourself if you are the prettiest, if you look okay, etc…focus on OTHERS. Change the flow of energy. When you meet people focus on saying something that will make them feel good about themselves. When you see another woman that you suspect might be prettier or better dressed, give her a sincere compliment and give her the gift of an ego boost.

By doing that you are changing your flow of energy, instead of being a black hole that is trying to suck up all of the energy in the room you are giving what you want so much to others; you are giving them approval and a little boost. Believe me people will like you for that too.

Also as the poster above mentioned, it does become less of a focus as we get older. As women mature we start to care less what others think. We start thinking more about what makes us happy and don’t live in the eyes of the masses.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 02:56 PM

Originally posted by sc2099
I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to be satisfied about that aspect of myself since I haven't been since childhood. I guess the reward would be that people would view me in a positive light.

Sonya makes a very good point about the changing the flow of energy.

One thing I wanted to add, that really stuck out to me when Sonya pulled out that specific quote above, is that you are way too hard on yourself when guessing what other people think of you.

I have seen several posts of yours, and my impression of you is of someone who is a deep thinker, who is kind, and who has a really good and soft heart.

I would have never in a million years guessed you as "superficial and shallow" and obsessed with your looks. (dont lynch me, I still dont think you are superficial and shallow, bear with me a minute)

I think what SEEMS to be shallow and superficial and obsessed with the physical just reflects someone who really feels hurt and unworthy on some level. Like someone who never quite could please someone very important in their family. Perhaps as if the way you were able to get recognition and love was through the things you did rather than simply because you ARE.

I would say that it is very important for you to give others the chance to like you for yourself. I bet more people do than you realize.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 03:06 PM
Another thing this thread is making me think about is that the areas in our life where we have trouble letting go say something about where we carry the most hurt.

Dizzie has her family, SC has her appearance, I had trouble with my home.

I just signed the papers to sell it on the 17th, and it was HARD. (Another reason I say there is no good "how to do it" that you just have to do it.) It made me realize that the reason I was so attached to that house was that as a child I had no home to feel safe in. I was bounced around at everyone elses whim. When I bought this home, (my first and only so far) I really got attached. Selling it felt like ripping my heart out, but it has become a trap in a sense. I love it, but it is preventing me from moving on and growing. Doing things that will help me develop more as a person, an adult.

One thing that occurred to me was that no house could or should ever make someone feel safe and secure and cared for. I had to find a sense of security and belonging in my own heart or I was never really going to have it. Any sense of security that comes from things is an illusory one, because it can be ripped away from you at any moment.

Now I am going to have to find that peaceful "home" feeling inside of me, because as of a few days ago my crutch went away. I know it is going to be rough, but I know I will find it. I think painful experiences are not there to hurt us, but to give us the chance to find the real security, acceptance, and love that can only emanate from within our selves. What comes from inside cannot ever be lost, stolen or run out.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 03:31 PM

Originally posted by IllusionsaregranderNow I am going to have to find that peaceful "home" feeling inside of me, because as of a few days ago my crutch went away.

The only certainty is that it is all temporary. One day we will die, and we will do it alone, and while it seems so far off, while it seems we will be "different people" then we won't.

Your post was very real. Thanks for sharing it.

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