I’m standing in a juice bar stocking up on fresh juice for my 3-day cleanse. Not only am I wearing my baggy house clothes, but I’m bald. And I’m a woman. And I look pretty bad.

There are three other people in the tiny shop, all waiting on their juice orders. I suddenly realize that they are in the position I’ve been in so many times before: The “Oh gosh, that poor person. Look at them. They must have cancer. Or some horrible disease. No wait, don’t stare.”

I grin at them. They look awkwardly away.

I’m surprised at myself. For one thing, I’ve realized for the first time in my life that not worrying about being pretty is awesomely liberating. I realize I don’t give a rat’s ass how I look.

It’s a funny feeling having no way to hide. I could wear a wig, but I just don’t care enough. It’s hot, I’m tired, and chemo is kicking my butt.

Everything is fully exposed: forehead wrinkles, saggy neck, heck even the shape of my skull.

Here I’ve spent 30 years with my long blonde flowing hair and pretty makeup, fully invested in how I show myself to the world. Now I look 10 years older, bald, pale, and parched.

My ability to control how I look to others has largely been taken away from me. I can’t shape how people see me to the degree I used to.

The next day, I get a text from my mom about some new bald photos of me that have made it onto Facebook. She assures me I don’t look that bad in person and that I must really be getting a big test having to do with stripping away all my ego.

I whimper in response, “So you think I really look that bad?”

I hesitate. I could untag myself in Facebook. Or I could suck it up and get over myself. And that’s exactly what I decide to do. I leave the awful photos up.

By the way, this email is not about vanity, or feeling good about yourself. It’s about control and identity: Who we are and what we expect life to give us as a result of how we control how others see us. Identity is our deeper layer. Think vanity on the outside, and identity on the inside.

Vanity is fueled by lack-thinking.

Self-worth is fueled by feeling good about yourself.

And identity is fueled by many things, including your comfort with yourself at the deepest level, your ability to shift and flow with your changing identity, and by letting go of your need to control others’ perceptions of you.

I discover that I’m tired of trying to control everyone’s perceptions of me and my identity. I don’t need to look any certain way to do my work, so why did I ever think I had to?

If you like me, if you get me, its because you hear my heart, and my ideas and teachings make sense. My bald head is irrelevant. My vanity is irrelevant.

And, if you know me, you know that I’m always looking for ways and places where I’m leaking my inner power. “Can I close that gap? Can I shut off that leak?” I constantly ask.

For me, my manifesting is fueled by my inner power and clarity. I create what I am. This is why the whole “being-bald-thing” has become so interesting for me.

I think about all my fellow Flowdreamers and M.E. Schoolers, many of whom who also suffer with the same need to get their bosses, family, and partner to want to see them in a certain way.

Our identity is on the line: “Here’s how I want you to see me,” we gush with every breath. “If you see me this way, then that’s how I’ll see myself.” 

Do you know what happens next? We not only then end up trying to control our own lives, but we try to control how everyone else feels about us too.

Think about that sister-in-law whom you keep trying to get to like you. Not only do you have to do the right things, and be the right way, but I bet you have to present the right “look” as well. And by extension, your house has to present the right look, or your car or even your kids.

Think about how you want your clients or co-workers to perceive you. What clothes do you wear for them? How do you do up your face or hair for them?

Think of the hundreds of people whom you want to feel certain ways about you, and what you do to try to get them to see you how you want them to see you.

Think of the effort and worry you go through to “come across’ a certain way, with a certain look that fits in to your job or community.

Know what? It’s not working anyway. Some people will think you’re pretty, or handsome. No matter what you do, some people will think you’re ugly. Some people will think you’re smart. And some people will think you’re not so bright.

Some of your family will think you’re greedy or uncaring, and some will love you.

Some of your coworkers will think you’re overweight, and some will think you look perfect.

And this isn’t up to you. And that’s a good thing.

So why is this even important? What does this have to do with manifesting, or even Flow?

In Flowdreaming, I talk a lot about personal energy and power. Personal energy is like our battery. When we use up our power trying to control the perceptions of people around us, we end up draining our power instead of using it for better things, like creating and manifesting in ease and alignment.

Your identity is inside you. It should be strong and healthy. How people perceive you is outside you”¦it’s not your job to try to control that.

If you do, then you’re losing heaps of your precious emotional energy every day engaging in invisible tug of wars as you try to persuade the world around you to see you the way you need to be seen.

Being bald has changed my identity, for sure. And so do things like losing a leg, being in a wheelchair, going blind, coping with ongoing pain, aging, discovering your gender identity or orientation, coming home from war, downsizing from a big fancy house to a small apartment, becoming an empty nester, being divorced or widowed”¦thousands of things impact who you are in big and small ways all through your life.

What I want you to remember is to keep your power through them. Let go of controlling the world. Control yourself instead. Partner with your Flow. Work on your insides, and let the right stuff align to your outsides.

I’m going to help you do this right now. Up top, I posted one of those horrible photos of me. My husband has even cleverly Photoshopped a cool blue Mohawk onto it. (No I do not have a mohawk for real….but if I did…so what, right?!)

Now, how can this inspire YOU to let go of some need to have others see you a certain way?

Post your insights below. I’d love to read them. And inspire the rest of us!

XO Summer