Essential Self vs. Social Self on the Scale

Social Self cares about weight loss and looking goodThe last two weeks I’ve had so much fun with a new little manifesting routine that it’s ridiculous.
It makes me giggle out loud even thinking about it. But it’s probably a misguided intention, truth be told.
Here’s why:
I’ve been putting a spell on my belly. It goes like this:

“You are the flat belly of a 22 year old co-ed who majored in volleyball.” (I’m smiling again just typing it!)
I repeat it three times while rubbing said belly and then finish with three little pats and the words, “You know what to do.”

I told you it was ridiculous!
But it makes me laugh and it makes me trust my belly and I will also say – I am looking better than otherwise expected in these little summer tanks! (Cute little belly, you!)
However, if I’ve learned anything in my ups and downs as a deliberate creator, it’s that we don’t really want to weigh a certain amount or be a certain size or look a certain way.
What we want is to love and feel good about ourselves. That’s what we’re truly seeking when we start a new diet or exercise plan or – ahem – belly spell.
I know that.
And yet when Michele Woodward recently suggested that focusing on weight loss seemed very “social self” it was as if someone rang a big wake up bell inside my head.
In case you’re not familiar with the lingo, “social self” is somewhat of a four letter word in Martha Beck world. Here it is from Martha herself which I lifted from Pam’s excellent post on the topic:

The social self is the part of you that developed in response to pressures from the people around you, including everyone from your family to your first love to the pope. As the most socially dependent of mammals, human babies are born knowing that their very survival depends on the goodwill of the grown-ups around them.  Because of this, we’re all literally designed to please others.

For example, many of our smiles are based on social convention. When you smile but don’t mean it, that’s your social self in action. When you say yes but mean no (or vice versa), that’s likely your social self in charge.
You with me so far?
Our essential self, on the other hand, is what Abraham might call our Inner Being. It’s the core of who we really are, and it is sourced from ultimate and pure divine love.
Okay, so that takes me back to Michele and her brilliant observation.
What do you think your essential self (aka Inner Being) thinks you should weigh? Or look like?
I’ve got a funny feeling my belly spell didn’t come from my Essential Self or Inner Being. I think it came from the part of me that wants to look good to others.
After all, what if I didn’t know what “looked good”? What if my social self grew up in a culture where round bellies were exalted? Would I be “spelling it away” then?
I’m pretty sure not.
neck stretching. enough said.I mean, think of the social conditioning required to make this seem like a good idea:
So I may very well get the flat belly of a 22 year old co-ed who majored in volleyball, but I will not be a true winner as long as I’m using my manifesting prowess to satisfy my Social Self.
Know what I mean? Michele does.
Before you go, I’d love if you shared your thoughts on the subject!

  • July 11, 2011
  • Jessica Earl says:

    Ahhh… this is great! I’m digesting and I’d like to read what Michele has to say as well. I totally get this!
    I’ve thought about this topic before, and how other cultures do what seems strange in contrast to our own, but are desired in that culture. It makes me stretch outside my own thoughts of what it is that I am truly wanting, or believing, or thinking… What would actually feel good, and what do I believe feels good?
    Anyhow, maybe I can get my thoughts together to better express them later… so for now, I’m just loving all the energy stirred up on this topic!! Thanks!

  • You know what it reminds me of Jessica? When I wrote about how sometimes we adopt someone else’s desire as our own:
    Thanks, Jessica, for that fb exchange which pushed up the publish date of this post! ha ha

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for explanation Jeannette (and Michele!!) My friend Evan told me to focus on the subtle distinction of trying to get a flat stomach– not because I hated my non-flat belly, but because I love myself and desire to change my body. I could never truly wrap myself around the concept until now. Total eureka moment. 🙂
    ‘So I may very well get the flat belly of a 22 year old co-ed who majored in volleyball, but I will not be a true winner as long as I’m using my manifesting prowess to satisfy my Social Self.’

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  • That is a nice piece of wisdom from Evan – and much more likely to be effective. Smart friend you’ve got there, Anonymous!
    And it does lead one to wonder about the connection between loving oneself and desire to change body.
    When we truly love ourselves, we’re not desiring that change out of dissatisfaction or “not enoughness” – but rather it’s fueled by something totally different.
    And I don’t think most of women’s weight loss efforts out there are being fueled by THAT “totally different” stuff which I’m even having trouble putting a name to.
    But it’ll come to me. 🙂
    Thanks for posting, Anonymous!

  • Laura says:

    This is great…and I totally get it. I do feel like I have a slightly different take on this from my own experience. I was never athletic as a kid…it actually was not until college that I really did any form of regular exercise. I did grow up in a health conscious family so I always had a healthy diet and was aware of what was “good” for me and what was bad for me. I was, however, never totally comfortable with my body. I was never overweight, just maybe average (yet, I have good genes so I always had a pretty good hourglass shape.
    One I started exercising and started to see what a fit body looks and feels like, I felt one with my body instead of it being the separate entity that I carried around with me. I loved seeing the outlines of muscle tone, and how it felt to feel my hip bones. To me, it is more about self-love. I LOVE my body and want to honor it by looking good, feeling good and doing good things for it.
    I feel different when my body looks the way I want it to and it’s really for my pleasure and enjoyment more than anyone else’s. I love the way clothes look when I am on my thinner side and I know I am treating my body well. There is no punishment, no deprivation…it is all coming from a place of wanting my body to look and feel it’s best to honor what it does for me.
    That being said, there is of course, a part that likes being told I look good (for my age or otherwise) and when a guy tells me I’m hot, well…that’s pretty cool too.
    That’s just my two cents…

  • Yes, exercising for fitness is different than exercising to lose weight and conform to someone else’s idea of beauty. (As if that even works!)
    And I think you’re right, Laura, when you say your experience is different than most!

  • You crack me up, Croz! Course, my little spell does, too.
    So we’re in good company. 🙂

  • Jessica Earl says:

    Laura… YES! Agreed… on many levels. And you made me realize that I do appreciate convenience… and it is extremely convenient, fun, exciting when I can slip into anything off the rack and have it fit! So that motivator has nothing to do with my social expectations. I just love how that feels. I want to be comfortable, and be able to express myself visually with my clothing, so I want choices! Freedom to wear whatever I am inspired to… I’ve experienced that at certain weights/sizes. So, its no wonder I’d want to be in that balance of being comfortable/loving me-as is, and the size that is totally fun and easy! 🙂

  • Croz says:

    Love it Jeannette.
    I think I would be a good test for this process, especially if I want to look like a 22 year old volley ball player. lol Keep ’em coming

  • Jessica, it always makes me laugh how often we want to conform our body to fit what’s on the racks. To this day my waist is so much smaller than my hips that jeans don’t fit me properly. (Terrible gap in the back.) I used to hanker to be the body proportion that would fit jeansmaker expectations – but that revealed itself to be not the highest form of self love I could reach. 🙂
    I totally get the desire to be comfortable in our bodies and wonder how comfortable some of those stick thin models and actresses are in theirs. At least, that’s the thought makes me feel better sometimes. ha

  • Cyndi says:

    Hi Jeannette:
    This topic is great. I’m reminded of an episode from the anthology series “Twilight Zone” titled “The Eye of the Beholder” (1962). A woman named Janet Tyler has undergone several treatments in the hopes that she’ll look like everyone else. They show her with her head completely bandaged, so you really don’t know what’s going on…and the nurses and doctors are show in shadow. The doctor takes off the bandages and sees “no change”. At this point, the camera pans to her and, lo and behold, she is a BEAUTIFUL, bombshell blonde! It’s everyone else that appear to be horribly deformed by our perspective.
    Quite profound…and eye opening.
    I’ve been a full-time fitness professional for over 11 years. Before that, I was a yo yo dieter who always dealt with the extra 10-20 vanity lbs. Each day I learn more and more about how important it is to make peace with our bodies.

  • No doubt, Cyndi!! What an extreme story to point out how outwardly focused we can be!
    So interesting, isn’t it?
    Makes me wonder: “What would you want if you didn’t know what you were supposed to want?” Or if you didn’t know what everyone else wanted from you?
    Thanks for chiming in here, Cyndi. 🙂

  • The flat belly of a young volleyball player is wonderful for that young woman. It would be a little pathetic if a 75 year old woman still yearned for that kind of physique, wouldn’t it?
    I say, love every moment of wherever you are. I was just thinking last night how much I loved being pregnant (news flash: I did not have washboard abs in Week 40 of gestation). I loved the way my body felt, and I loved feeling the purpose of pregnancy. But it would be weird to be pregnant at age 51. Wouldn’t it?
    The collective social self which tells us the only people of value are 20-somethings with defined abs and sculpted trapezoids neglects the perfection in other stages of life.
    Kind of reminds me of people who beat themselves up for not being able to manifest. Could it be that what you want to create is totally an ego motive? Which, of course, is never really rewarded by Universe.
    Social self = ego. Now, there is a healthy ego and an unhealthy ego… but that’s a whole other simul-post. 🙂
    Jeannette, you and I have talked offline about the “gurus” who promise to make you young, hot, sexy, wild, raucous, tanned, fit and toned. And when they appeal to the ego – to the social self – they are not part of the solution, are they?
    They are a big part of the problem.

  • Yes, it’s probably pathetic when we yearn to be anything other than what we are. So much deliciousness not seen or appreciated! (I would know; I’ve been guilty but also very conscious about changing that.)
    I think we DO have an interesting simulpost cooking about the ego. Agreed that ego in and of itself is not bad. (Abraham would say ego “in the vortex” versus ego “out of the vortex.”)
    And as for those gurus who lead with promises of making us Happy, Hot and Rich – or whatever it is – when we respond to that from a place of not feeling enough or because we think that’s what’s required before we feel fulfilled – I think that’s when we run into trouble. Because we know fulfillment doesn’t come from external situations or circumstances (even of the body). It comes from choosing it for ourselves, regardless of what is or isn’t happening in our lives.
    And that’s not something most of us are trained to do. Although I do believe it’s our truly natural state.
    Thanks, Michele, for inspiring this topic and for popping over here to add your two cents! 🙂

  • LovelyMe says:

    I am completely in alignment with Laura’s two cents:)
    I am of the more-to-love variety, but I’ve never really had a problem with that. If my mother did anything right, it was that she would not let me feel depressed about my weight. Since I never vibrated that, in turn I almost never got picked on at school (wow, just had that revelation!), and was always surrounded by friends and people who never saw me as anything but just LovelyMe.
    Fast forward to present day, and I would like to lose weight, but it’s for my own pleasure. For a few years, my life was really down the drain, and due to my misalignment, I gained depression weight. Thankfully, just being in alignment has helped me feel better than ever before. I feel healthier, and get compliments all the time that I’m looking better and better.
    But that brings me back full circle – I want to feel good in my body and I want to feel healthy, and I want these things because I want them.
    I think Marielle was the one who did the Inside and Outside beliefs chart at GVU for a call? I think this would be a great tool for weight and feeling healthy. If you had the feeling of that 22 year old flat belly, what would your inside beliefs be?
    It’s all about bridging the gap!

  • Amen for your mom, LovelyMe! And I got goosebumps reading about how you never got picked on at school!! WOW! Now THAT’S great evidence of like attracting like, huh?
    Very cool.
    Loved this, too: “I want to feel good in my body and I want to feel healthy, and I want these things because I want them.”
    I think that really needs a spotlight here because we get to want whatever we want – no matter what drives that desire. There’s no such thing as noble desires or “wrong” vortexes. No one needs to talk us out of what we want – even if it’s something that others don’t agree with.
    (Actually, that might be my favorite kind.)
    And having said that, I have found a tremendous difference in the satisfaction of achieving desires inspired by my true self versus my “social” self, as Martha Beck would say. Which takes me back to what Abraham always says: we want what we want because of how we think it’s going to make us feel.
    And going for that feeling (rather than the conditions we think will lead to that feeling) guarantees a direct hit.
    Thanks for posting, LovelyMe!

  • Kim Falconer says:

    Great post, Jeannette, and I love the comments all!
    My fav point: “What would you want if you didn’t know what you were supposed to want?” Or if you didn’t know what everyone else wanted from you?”
    I’m going to ponder that one. I guess it boils down to ‘what do you think it will take to get to the feeling place you desire?’
    Thank you!!!

  • Kim, I have to say contemplating that question has been rocking my world. Some very basic, foundational things (like even income tracking, relationship planning) are turning out to have different answers than I’d been entertaining. REALLY interesting question!

  • Mandy says:

    Hi Jeanette,
    I think whichever weight results from (1) a level of excerise that makes me feel revitalised rather than exhausted and (2) a diet of predominantly natural foods is the weight my essential self would like.
    Mandy xo

  • Csilla says:

    Jeannette – Luv it, luv it, luv it yeahhh – I too am going to start to treat my belly the way U are. You are awesome – just sharing this shows how comfortable you are in your own skin – that is sooo very important

  • I like that, Mandy, trusting our body to know what weight it wants to be. Csilla, glad you found some inspiration!
    Thanks to both of you for sharing your thoughts here, too. 🙂

  • Connie Phillips says:

    Jeannette, that made me laugh and I have to say, I am going to give it a go.
    You are a gem!

  • That’s what I figured, Connie – if I’m laughing, I’m automatically on a better track. 🙂
    Joy, thanks for dropping by and sharing your enthusiasm!

  • Joy says:

    Fantastic post!!! Thanks Jeannette!

  • Cate says:

    I have never been enamored of a flat little belly as a social thing because, in my experience as a voice teacher, tight bellies that come from social conditioning and fear usually come with tight, little buttocks holes. Tight little buttocks holes also mean tight throats which mean difficulty expressing vocally…
    Tight little bellies that come with love and health usually mean vocal and expressive freedom.
    I just want my belly to be healthy. My past reality was something else. In letting Her guide Herself to a strong, flexible “thing,” what wonders are now manifesting within?

  • Healthy trumps (nearly) everything else when push comes to shove, doesn’t it, Cate?
    PS – I once heard a speaking & presentation instructor share that many women have a shallow breathing problem (not so much men, although sometimes) because of their overriding desire to keep a flat profile of their stomach. Sigh.

  • lesli says:

    Thanks, Jeannette, this was a wonderful post and I love what Michele had to say, too. I don’t comment often but I am a faithful follower of your blog. I loved your flat belly spell-it made me laugh too and I am going to try it myself! 🙂

  • Lovely to hear from you, Lesli!
    I’m smiling that you call it a wonderful post because I was thinking of it as a potentially embarrassing one (although I’m practicing getting even more comfortable being who I really am out loud), since the point of Michele’s observation was that anyone who’s worried about their image has fallen prey to the “social self.”
    But it’s a great opportunity to get even more real with myself about what I truly want – and why. That lovely journey continues to unfold every day.
    Thanks for posting, Lesli! 🙂

  • Leigh Anne Saxe says:

    Great topic Jeannette!
    It is so true that everything we desire comes from really wanting to feel better anyway. A woman asked Abraham at a conference here in Toronto a few years ago, “Abraham if you offer a blessing on my doughnut will it make a difference?” Abraham’s response to this woman was, “We can bless your doughnut all you like but unless you are in the Vortex when you eat it, it won’t do you any good anyway.” It was fantastic. They went on to say, “It is not about what you are eating, it is not about what you are doing, it is not about the food, it is only about HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND EATING. Very enlightening. For me it comes down to what feels good again and again. Much thanks Jeannette!

  • Oh, Leigh Anne, I remember that Abraham exchange! That was HILARIOUS! And so instructive.
    Thanks for the reminder of it!

  • Jan Riley says:

    I can relate to this post. I have been touching my rather large belly and just loving it for being healthy. When I feel a negative feeling I just acknowledge it and replace it with a better thought. I focus on how soft my skin is, how full and satisfied I feel or something like that. I applaud her( my belly) for being healthy and having very soft skin.
    This week I’ve have the mantra of “let go – for something better” After a painful exchange with a friend, I i haven’t stuffed my feelings, but I am diligently working on not getting trapped in them. When it all gets too hard I remember that if I can let go, something else can fill that space. Its working pretty well because I have been having my feelings but moving through them much faster and with less chaos and damage to myself and others.
    For me this is a huge huge breakthru! thanks for your sharing Jeannette and others!

  • That feels like a powerful practice, Jan, in many ways. I appreciate the powerful example you share with us, and aspire to the same complete peace and appreciation with my body as well.
    In fact, I recently picked up a mantra that made its way to me: I am at peace with my body. 🙂

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  • Ashley Weatherly says:

    I spend a lot of time/energy on exercise(reasonable amount) and I love the way it makes me feel. I started a regular routine when we moved from TX to GA with the army and I felt really down. The physical activity gave me something to look forward to and literally made me feel good physically and mentally. The 20 lbs that came off were a huge plus, of course, but the lbs weren’t what was driving me. I feel like my essential self enjoys the hard work it takes to stay fit and get past physical obstacles. Although, I do start to focus on the lbs at times and it actually causes me stress. Then I turn to over-eating/over-exercising(i.e. bingeing/purging)…Not good! Martha Beck is helping me out w/this! ; )

  • Dana - Your Inspired Coach says:

    When I look at my body and want to lose weight, even a little, it’s because I am somehow believing that I should look like I did when I was 17 or 22 or 25 and could wear midriff shirts and buy anything off the rack. But I also had tummy issues and lost weight because I couldn’t keep nourishment in my body back then.
    I know my 50 year old self will one day weep that I didn’t appreciate my 30s body that actually holds on to nutrients a little more. Some days I do, some days I don’t.
    I haven’t mastered this one yet, and I’d say I had it mastered my whole life until recently, but that’s because only recently did I put on a few extra pounds that I don’t like. LOL!

  • Kathy says:

    I’m 52 and I can relate to Dana’s comment. I wish I’d loved myself more when I was in my 20s! Had I only really lived in the skin of the cute young woman I was and enjoyed my youth! And I look at my sons (one a half foot taller in me–which is still very weird) and I enjoy the memory of my huge pregnant body. But those pounds do creep up in middle age–and I realize that it’s okay to not like them–it doesn’t mean I don’t like me. And like so many things in life–bodies change through time. Right now I’m not thrilled about the muffin top–maybe good eating and more exercise will make it look less lumpy and bumpy. It’s not a life deal breaker though. It feels good to feel comfortable in your own skin–toned or flabby.

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