“It’s what’s on the inside that matters.” Riiiiiiiight. You may feel this rings true for you intellectually. And you may even wholeheartedly believe this applies to others. But do you really believe this when it comes to your own good self? When you look at yourself in the mirror, can you see past your perceived flaws? You can’t help but see lumpy bits, wrinkles, ugliness, a humongous stomach, cellulite, a crooked nose…the list can feel endless. Feeling dissatisfied with your appearance can affect your self-confidence and impact how you interact in life. Read on to learn steps for helping you get on the path of appreciating yourself even just a little bit more…
What are you saying to yourself?
Disliking your appearance in some way may be something you have carried around with you for years. Periodically reminding yourself just how dreadful you look may have become so habitual that you’re not even conscious of your self-criticism.
Step 1: Next time you look in the mirror, make a mental note of what you’re telling yourself. Just observe the judgements you’re making. And observe how one remark can trigger a downward spiral of further negative comments. The more you can pick up on the first ‘layer’ of self-criticism, the greater chance you have of being able to separate yourself from that criticism. And as a result, you’re less likely to get embroiled in the exhausting cycle of self-rebuke.
Not good enough for who?!
So we’ve established you’ve spent a good portion of your life reminding yourself time and time again that you’re simply “not good enough”. You’re not slim enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not attractive enough. These statements become so normal and so engrained that you treat them as factual; as the truth.
Step 2: When you’re telling yourself you’re not enough in some way, PAUSE. And ask yourself:
“Enough for who?”
(And if there is someone who is telling you’re not enough then maybe now is the time to evaluate your relationship with that person!)
“Enough for what?”
Who are you measuring yourself against? What standards are you placing on yourself? Where have those standards and measurements come from? Who says we should be measured and compared alongside someone else? And what does being attractive enough actually mean? Digging deeper into thoughts can shine a light on how irrational, unrealistic or unhelpful our self-judgements may be. Or they may reveal pressure that you’ve piled on yourself due to a previous experience that you’re not letting go of.
Resist Or Accept
So you’re as sure as hell not going to validate yourself, so you look externally. And if someone else gives you the approval you’re desperately looking for, you finally feel good about yourself….temporarily. And then you’re back to square one.
Or perhaps you don’t receive the validation you want from others, and so you fall deeper into what seems like a bottomless pit of shame and self-disgust.
Apart from the pit is never bottomless. And ‘square one’ is not permanent. You have a choice.
You can continue to resist yourself, lamenting the state of your appearance. OR you can start by ACCEPTING yourself.
Step 3: Whenever you experience self-loathing or self-criticism, place your hand on your heart and say to yourself, “I accept myself exactly as I am right now”. Out loud or just a thought – it’s whatever you feel comfortable with.
Who are you, really?
You are not your body or your face. You are your laugh, your smile, your kindness, your irritability, your caring nature, your habits, your skills, your passions, your dreams, your wisdom, your sense of humour, your sensitivity…there is no exhaustive list. The more you can focus on what is ‘right’ about yourself, the more you can recognise you are SO much more than your exterior. You are refusing to be identified purely with the physical.
Step 4: Make a list of everything you like about yourself. If this is a struggle, ask a friend or family member. And include anything – no matter how small (for example, from acknowledging your eyebrows to appreciating your dedication to housework!). Remind yourself you’re more than enough by looking at this list on days when you’re feeling particularly down about yourself.
And if you need some inspiration on how you are so much more than your body, I urge you to watch this wonderfully moving and uplifting TED talk:
We are all perfectly imperfect, FACT!
Consider these wise words of Lao Tzu: “When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be.” This moment is a new opportunity to let go of the pattern of self-rebuke and the clinging to the exterior. By doing that, you give yourself permission to shine brighter than you’ve ever shined before. And remember: we are all perfectly imperfect in our own unique way. The sooner you can make friends with your imperfections, the greater freedom you have to enjoy life.