Bare All to Enchant—in Any Season

Summer demands that we bare all those body parts we’ve conveniently layered in sweaters. And if you’re feeling squeamish about that, you’re trying to protect more than just your abs and your thighs from rejection.

When you accept the rest of you, you also accept your physical body. You embrace who you are inside and out, regardless of other people’s opinions. Stay with me, though, I’m not just talking about the unconditional acceptance that gets so much hype.

Let’s think in terms of loving yourself. What does that really look like? Accepting yourself unconditionally is only one segment of it. You want to know, respect, and care for all of you.

You can’t, for example, merely accept your complacency or “white” lies or defensiveness and expect to also feel good about yourself. Self-esteem comes from being true to you, or aligning your behavior with your values, from doing what you know to do to the best of your ability.

And when you’ve done that, you’ve spent enough time in solitude to know what you really believe and what you can do with your whole heart. You’ve come to understand the pain behind your anger, the insecurity behind your defensiveness, and the fear that keeps you from doing what you most want to do. You’ve known the bliss of connecting with your spirit. You’ve learned to love yourself!

It follows that you have no qualms about simply being who you are, with and without your clothes on. How liberating is that! You can still get scared and veer off track, but you don’t beat yourself up or blame somebody else for it. You take a deep breath, learn from the experience, and begin again.

Instead of working so hard to win everybody’s approval—or feed our egos, as the case may be—we can just do what we would do naturally. We can just be happy! No kidding—because there is only one prerequisite to happiness; and that’s self-esteem.

Granted, getting back to what you would do naturally can be hard work. It means finding your authentic self, the beautiful, pristine, and fearless spirit that is innately yours. Way back as a young child, scared that you didn’t measure up, you started piling on more than sweaters to win love and acceptance.

We each set out to meet whatever criteria was laid out for us to be good enough—looks, money, religious standing, education, accomplishment, or perfect parenting. And since we can’t really get rich or pretty enough to feel good about ourselves, we inevitably run into a dead-end.

I recently saw a huge billboard in NYC: Recession 101: Self Worth Beats Net Worth. When we find our worth in the external, it’s subject to the economy, age, trends, and other people’s preferences. It’s not really (SET ITAL) our (END ITAL) worth at all. But when we find our worth in what’s inside, it’s ours; and nobody can take it away from us. We’re home free.

Now let’s apply this to Romance 101. What we really want is somebody to love us down to the core … but we’re hiding. We expect them to somehow wade through camouflage to get to our breasts, read between the lines to know what’s really hurting us, and cross uncharted terrain to get to our core. And then, we expect them to do something (SET ITAL) we (END ITAL) have been unable to do—love us just the way we are!

Now we have a picture of why it’s crucial for us to be authentic in relationships. It’s the only way to get what we want!

Are you with me? Are you ready to know and love who you are, so that somebody else can also know and love you?

The more layers you remove, the deeper your knowledge, your sharing, and your intimacy with a partner. Intimacy is connection based on psychological knowledge. It’s the “we’re together in this” you long for. You don’t have to feel alone with any secret, fear, challenge … or pleasure.

You have somebody to talk to about your mom’s forgetfulness, your aging skin, and your fantasies. You also have somebody to help you love yourself well. And when he suggests that you start jogging, you don’t leap to the conclusion that he no longer finds you attractive.

If you want to know what he’s thinking, you ask—without overreacting when he tells you. You’re not embarrassed by or afraid of the truth. And with no fear of rejection, there is no falling short … only growth.

You’ll always be learning to manifest the goddess within, but right now your life is more meaningful than it’s ever been. You know who you are, you love all of your parts; and you’re excited about sharing wonderful naked you!

Dance, baby, dance, like nobody’s watching or everybody’s watching. It doesn’t matter. The music is you, it’s beautiful; and you’ve never been so comfortable on the dance floor, the board of directors, the beach, or the launch pad.

Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a self-esteem expert and consultant, the author of Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You’re Not (Health Communications) and Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams (Hampton Roads) and the columnist who penned the nationally syndicated “Inside Relationships” for ten years. Denise conducts workshops, speaks professionally, serves on the faculty of Omega Institute, and consults with individuals and couples nationwide. She is silly and deeply in love with life and her husband Dr. Sam Ferguson. They live in McIntosh, Florida, where their home in the woods—Gleneden—is also open to others as a sanctuary and retreat center.