Tag Archives: true self

One as part of a greater Whole

I feel exhausted.
You see I’ve just had a session with my counsellor. Yes, even counsellors have counsellors.

You see, we are all human and we all have things happening in our lives. The biggest thing I have learned is that accepting help and support from others is part of self care. Where do we get this idea from that we have to do it all on our own anyway?

It is exhausting talking about your inner most feelings and fears but after the exhaustion comes a sense of relief and a feeling of lightness from sharing the load.

As a counsellor myself, I can hear what I’m saying and I can logically see what I need to do. As a person though, I have accepted there is an emotional side of me that needs to be heard.

And seeing someone who is trained gives me the safety and confidence to know nothing hurtful will be said, especially about my depression like ‘you’re being too sensitive’ or ‘your just wanting attention’. Or my favourite, ‘how can you be a counsellor if you have depression’.

Receiving help and support is a tough step to take but trust me, having the help and support there is helping me be the person I’m meant to be, unapologetically and is giving me the strength and ability to support others.

Quite beautiful when you see it that way, supporting each other to be our true selves. Being human and being part of humanity as we were meant to be <3

Love your body – Step 7; Self portrait

This last exercise is a very simple one; I want you to take a photo of yourself. Simples 🙂

You can direct someone else to take the photo for you but make sure they are only pressing the shutter and not influencing your choices in the process. If you do not like the way you look, please still do this exercise. There comes a time when you put your trust in others and the time has come now. You are in a safe place where your efforts in capturing yourself will be appreciated and treated with respect.

You decide where and when, what you wear, your expression, what you’re looking at and if you are with anyone. This is your chance to spend time thinking and looking at yourself.

You have full control on how you want this self portrait to look but you have to park any emotions for now and you only get one go at taking the photo.

So if you take it and you think; oh I don’t like my hair in it, I look fat etc just sit with it. Accept it as it is. If any emotions come bubbling up or negative thoughts, stop them for the moment. Just see the image you have created as an image.

Let it just BE. Just look at it. Accept it.

You don’t have to love it, or hate it, be proud of it or want to hide it. It is simply a photo of yourself that you have created. Nothing more, nothing less.

Looking at your image, for one moment forget that it is you in the picture. See the person as someone else. Ask these questions out loud and write down the answers. If you find it easier, you can record them and watch your responses which will give you more of an insight to your emotions. Get into the moment and go with the first answers that pop into your head. That’s your subconscious talking to you.

Now think of the answers to these questions:

Who is the person in the image?

What are they doing?

What do they need to say if they could talk?

What is obvious about the picture?

What 3 things do you like about the image?

What 3 things do you NOT like?

Who would say these things? Where did you first hear that voice? Whom did it come from?

What or who is missing from the picture?

If you were to going to give this picture to anyone, who would it be and why?

Who would you NOT give it to and why?

When making this image, did you have someone in mind?

Did your answers surprise you? Is there anything new you have learnt about yourself?



Love your body – Step 5; Your place in the world

I believe we are born as a blank canvas and with every experience we go through, every memory we make, something is drawn or written onto our canvas. In time we get an overall image of who we are and what our life is.

I know I am not in the only one who thinks this way but sometimes we seem to go around and around on the same spot on the canvas. Like those spirographs we used to play with as kids. When it would get stuck, you just ended up drawing a circle over a circle instead of making a pretty pattern.

I feel our body image issues is similar to a broken spirograph, we are going around in circles focusing on one thing, negative things, not realizing the bigger picture around us. We may think of the bigger picture but I’m guessing your body image issues take up most of your headspace, right?

So put together a collage of YOU. You in the moment, right now. What you are about, what you love, your favourite places, people you love. You can take lots of new photos, use magazine cut outs, hand draw things, write things.

Again, this is about you so you have full creative control over what you do and how you do it. Remember to include images of you (use only the ones you feel positive about or take more photos of you)

After doing your collage look at it and realise that you are where you are in life because of you, because of the way you are and the person you are.

Here are some questions to answer:

What jumps out at you about the collage? (What are the main themes?)

Are you happy with it? Is there anything missing?

Did it come out how you thought it would? Or were there some surprises in there?

What portion of the You collage is affected by your body image?

Does your body image take up as much of the collage as it does in your mind?

What 3 things would you change in the collage? Are they body image changes?

Would you still have the people you love, the favourite things or be YOU if your body image was different?

Has this answer surprised you?

Extra if you want to:

Now this is completely optional, but you can expand on this exercise. Add another piece of paper before your collage which will be another collage but this time you are looking at your past.

What is important to you from your past? You can include images of how you looked, when you were happiest, things that have helped shape who you are, where you were born, your children being born, people who have passed away – anything you feel that encapsulates your past.

Now looking at the Collage Past,

What jumps out at you about the collage?

Are you happy with it?

Is there anything missing?

Did it come out how you thought it would? Or were there some surprises in there?

What portion of the past collage is affected by your body image?

What 3 things would you like back from the past? Are they body image related?

Now compare the Past and the Present You collages;

Are there any obvious changes?

Are you happier with the Present You collage compared with the Past or would you change anything?

What title would you give the Past collage?

Who is missing from the Past that you haven’t in the Present?

I believe the past is in the past and it is not healthy to dwell on it but rather look back and learn from it. Sometimes looking back can help you see if you are on the right path in life and if you are doing what you thought you would do.

Ongoing project (if you want!)

Now if you are really into it and to help with goal setting you could do a Future collage. This could include any dreams you have, things you want to achieve, places you want go to, things you want to do. This collage can be a reminder of where you are going and that this moment in time is only temporary.

Remembering that can help come to terms with the present if there is a situation you are unhappy with; YOU have control on your life and only you can change it through the choices you make and the actions you take. You will not be in the Present collage forever and one day you will be in the Future collage. What that looks like is up to you 🙂

Is there anything missing from the Future collage you want to add to? (This can be an ongoing work in progress)

Does it matter what size you are? Does it matter how your body looks in the Future collage?

Do you think you will lose loved ones in the Present collage because of your body so they do not appear in the Future collage?

Did the Future collage surprise you? Are you on the right path to achieve your goals? What do you need to change to be on the right path?

Is there anything new you have learnt about yourself?

What proportion of the Past, Present and Future focus on your body? What proportion focus on loved ones? Things you have done or want to do?

Would love to hear your answers and thoughts on this exercise.



Love your body – Step 4; Self represented

Don’t you find that since you were born, you have slowly accumulated more and more masks to wear? Or hats?

When I’m at work; I am work me, at home; I am home me, around the kids; I am mum, with my husband; I am the wife and friend and so it goes on. There comes a time though that you’ve been so busy putting on different masks and being different people, you simply forget who you are when you are not wearing masks.

Who are you? Who am I? I fear this will be a question I will be asking myself for as long as I breathe. Maybe in some ways we are not meant to know because it is forever changing helping us to always progress? I honestly don’t know but I think that is a nice way of looking at it.

I do know that for a long time I wore a mask to the world showing them how happy I was when underneath I was dying and was simply a hollow shell of myself. I lost myself trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. So when I decided enough was enough, I did a therapeutic photography project, Unmasked, (click to see the blog).

I allowed myself to take off my ‘happy’ mask and find out who I could be when not hiding. It was so liberating and allowed me to move on in my life.

Now it’s your turn to look inward, and find who you are without all your masks and find out about your inner self.

Think of your inner self or your true self and your outer self or the you for show to the world.

Now you can find some images to represent the inner/outer you or you can take photographs that represent you.

Using representation in this way often helps you be more honest and hear your soul or inner self talking to you. Like with all the other exercises, it is the process of going through it that gives you the answers, there is no right and wrong.

One example could be that your inner self is more like a rabbit, timid and scared but your outer self is a lion that growls and snaps if anyone gets close.

That was just an example but you can use anything to represent you; a tree, a piece of furniture, a plant, a type of pottery. Anything at all, as long as you can see yourself in the item.

“I wanted to talk about how ugly and unattractive I felt. I was growing older…the person I was on the outside was a completely different person to the real me inside. I felt ashamed, so when I was asked to find an image that represented the subject we wanted to talk about I chose the oldest, most deformed tree in the park.
As I was photographing this tree, I was struck by the strength of the trunk. I wanted to photograph the roots to show how stuck and tied down I felt, but as I moved in I also noticed that there was growth on some of the branches at the bottom. It might be old but still capable of producing new shoots. As I photographed the roots I was reminded of veins pumping lifeblood into the vast tree, seeking out hidden resources.
It reminded me of ME. Keeping everyone fed and watered, stretched so far I thought I would break. Yet I was struck that it was this same stretching out that gave this vast tree stability  For the first time in a long while, I felt quite at peace.
I returned to the group with my photographs and began to tell everyone about my discovery. I was very moved when someone asked if I felt that the image I had chosen primarily because of its age was really about strength  I keep the image and I look at this when I have the odd twinge in my back or my rheumatism plays up.
It makes me feel incredibly proud.”
Example in Exploring the Self through Photography by Claire Craig

Now answer these questions:

How did you feel expressing the inner you?

Did anything surprise you?

Are the inner and outer you so very different or actually quite similar?

Are you happy with having a hidden side to you?

Who would you give the images to? And Why?

Who would you NOT give the images to and why?

What would happen if the inner you was on the outside? Name 3 good things and 3 bad things.

Did you find beauty in either the inner or outer you? Or both?

Have your ideas of what beauty are changed?

You can also add to this exercise and take/find an image that represents your Ideal self.

What do you really want to look like? to be like?

What would you change about you? (Remember, it is what YOU want to change about you, not what you think others want changed in you.)

How would you go about making those changes?

What would make you happier?

What would make you love your body more?