My facebook feed was trying to entice me one day: “Three brave women make the bold choice to go bald in the first ever Red Table Barbershop.” This enticement broke my heart. We are brave when we do such things because we are so deeply afraid — we are afraid of what we might lose; how we might be seen; that we may no longer be loved as we were or loveable again. To make a physical change should hardly require a leap of courage.
I love shaving my head. I simply do, no reason for it. These days it is just my fun ritual, but in the past it was also a new opportunity each time to become more aware of my beliefs about love, my sense of self-worth, my fears that I am not loveable anymore, and my ability to perceive myself through the eyes of my heart.
It was another chance to learn, expand and grow beyond the illusion of myself. As I looked in the mirror I tested myself — could I not judge myself in the ways others have judged me or would judge me? What impressions, thoughts, fears came to the surface? It took several tries to emerge to a truth that is so evident and so freeing: The enormous absurdity of placing any of my value as a being in the way I looked with or without hair. The absurdity of an assumption that in some way my right to love and joy in my life would be impacted by hair. That the whole course of a person’s precious life would somehow rest in their hair or some other physical feature.
Yet, these are the beliefs that lie underneath the fears that we carry within ourselves each time we worry about the way we look. We live in a society where physical appearance is praised or criticized: directly, indirectly, by implication. Whether we are praised or criticized, it hardly matters – the message is inescapably the same, that looks matter. A woman can go from unnoticeable to sexy star with the right hairstyle in a day. Gray hair is sad. Men poke fun of themselves and each other when their hairlines begin to thin. As if life does not offer us plenty of opportunity for sickness, baldness in itself is treated as some sickness in need of a cure. Because the truth is, we do live in a society where our physical features seem to matter to others in painful ways. That it is painful, we cannot even tell anymore — we are so used to it.
Observing my thoughts carefully for a long time I discovered how pervasive limiting beliefs about our worth and loveability can be. When I started to observe my negative thoughts, I discovered that there are many more thoughts than I realised that were painful — “negative” is truly anything that we think that is somehow diminishing our true worth and value as human beings.
Even thoughts that positively judged and appraised other people based on their looks hurt me. Inherent in my thinking were beliefs about my own loveability, worthiness, and value as a human being. If their looks mattered, so did mine. Whenever we judge someone else, we also judge ourselves. We are One. A positive appraisal or a negative appraisal of our looks is telling us that our value and loveability are conditional. This is a painful paradigm for all of us. To love ourselves, we need to learn to shift this paradigm internally.
When I shaved my head for the first time in 25 years, I realised how afraid I was that I wouldn’t be loved anymore. That no one would want to be around me anymore. We internalise and mimic our parents’ ways of seeing the world – or what we perceive to be as their ways of seeing the world. We see ourselves the way they saw us or the way we imagine they saw us. That is, until we decide to see through the illusion created by our minds, and learn to really see ourselves and the world with our hearts. To observe our thoughts, how they affect us and others, and then to begin to consciously shift, is the power we all hold within us. It is how we can love ourselves beyond any limits we may have placed on ourselves in the past. This is how we change our inner worlds to then change the world around us.