The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Your body is just the messenger

I just got this note from one of my favorite people, “Granola Rolla”, who has struggled with body image issues for years:

“It’s a silly sort of epiphany, in that it's one of those `duh’ obvious things I've always known, but it's exciting because I'm starting to really get it. I just want to share something from a conversation with a friend today- `I think hating my body is like shooting the messenger. It's just a gauge for how well I take care of myself. No matter how noble or how foolish my reasons are for the degree of self-care, my body is just going to show the facts. I like to blame this body for not being desirable, even as I run away from those who clearly desire me and I'm kinda calling shenanigans on the whole thing.’
She gets it.  Our bodies are the sum total of the actions we have taken, which are influenced by our knowledge (efficiency and effectiveness) and our emotions (the Hawaiian Huna consider our bodies to be like “black bags” where we store our unprocessed negative feelings until we’re ready to deal with them.)  Trying to pretend that our exteriors have nothing to do with our interiors is a dangerous self-deception—and opens the door to accepting OTHER people’s negative, abusive behavior, because, after all, “what we do isn’t who we are.”   Right.  Well, no it isn’t, but it’s a hell of a lot closer to who we are than our self-image, or the stories we try to sell others.   

And what else reveals our actions and attitudes?   Try our finances.    Try our relationship histories.    A single problem is just a learning experience.  But one that recurs three times suggests that we have not learned something critical.  Learn the lesson, and you don’t have to repeat the mistake.   There are good men, good women, opportunities out there, and healthy bodies lurking within the external shell, waiting to emerge when we have the knowledge, discipline, and emotional clarity.

The trick is to love yourself, while being as honest as a surgeon evaluating a tumor when we examine our actions, emotions, beliefs, values, and self-image.   You are 100% deserving of love.   You are also 100% deserving of an accurate map of reality.  And a map is useless unless
1) you know where you’re going, and
2) you know where you are.

Musashi’s first principle is “Do not think dishonestly.”  Tell the truth.  Get an accurate map.
The second is: “The way is in training.”   Your goals require constant action.
The third is “Know the ways of every art.”  Study the actions and attitudes of the masters.  Those who have succeeded at any discipline you desire.  Find the critical path, the things in common between all of them.   Do this with all your heart while maintaining sensory acuity to your results, and continuing to model and study.

Nothing can guarantee success.  But failing to adapt the proper behaviors will guarantee failure.  If you’re running east, no matter how far and how fast you run, you’ll never see a sunset.



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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, I loved your books Lion's Blood & Zulu Heart; is there going to be a third? The Bronze Nile?

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Steven Barnes said...

"The Bronze Nile" is indeed the title of the third book. I hope to begin writing it next year.