Stop the self-criticism and focus on being the best you
From the moment we’re born, we are conditioned to focus on our appearance. Others judge and comment on how we look because there’s nothing else to remark upon—we haven’t yet developed personalities.
“What a beautiful baby!” “She has eyes just like her mommy!” “Who does he look like, mom or dad?” “Oh no, grandma’s ears!” Our height and weight are even the very first official facts sent to our family and friends on our birth announcements. The comments about our appearance begin the second we make our entrance into the world and continue until the day we die.
With the tone set from Day One of our existence, it makes sense that we would evaluate and scrutinize our appearance. And with books, articles and conversations everywhere about self acceptance, one might wonder why so many of us still struggle with this issue, why we still judge ourselves so harshly and have such a hard time accepting and loving the physical self that we are. I believe one of the fundamental reasons we’re so challenged in this area is because of the many mirrors that speak to us each and every day.
Be kind to yourself
You see, there are two kinds of mirrors we encounter in our lives: the actual, physical mirrors we look in to see our reflection and the metaphorical, or symbolic, mirrors that are the people reflecting who we are and how we look.
I want to turn the whole discussion of appearance upside down. Let’s take the focus off of societal messages and ideals about our body image and turn to our own personal self-projections. Whether or not we personally accept ourselves as we are is the most powerful mirror we can look into. Therefore, the goal is to build your ability to embrace who you are and how you look in the most accepting and loving way possible.
You are the only person who is around you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year in and year out. You impact yourself beyond all others, and you are in charge of your life, your appearance, and ultimately, how you feel inside and out each and every day. That’s why it is extremely important to learn the skills to diminish the critical and harsh ways that you view yourself and move toward acceptance and self-love.
The changes toward having a more positive and accepting image of your body can begin with a few easy steps:
1. Take time out of each day to focus on being your best you
You cannot think negative thoughts about your body at the same time you are focused on nurturing it. Take a yoga class, exercise to a workout video, put on some great music and start dancing around your house. While you are doing these activities, focus on thinking about how good your body feels and how wonderful it is that you are working toward keeping it healthy. If negative thoughts enter your mind, push them out and focus on the good taking place.
2. Make a commitment to stop criticizing your appearance
Commit to not allowing unkind words about your body or yourself to enter your mind anymore. If they do creep in, counteract them with something positive about yourself, such as “I am a good person,” “I am intelligent” or “I am always there if someone needs me.” As I mentioned earlier, you cannot have a negative thought and a positive one at the same time, so keep those positive ones coming!
3. Be good to your body so you feel appreciated and pampered
Take baths, drink delicious healthy juices, give yourself a manicure and shower using a body scrub that will make your skin feel soft. While you are doing these things, remind yourself how you are appreciating and nourishing your body and that you deserve to feel good.
4. Stop comparing yourself to other people
We are all built differently, and no one is perfect. You will always find someone with a smaller waist, less cellulite or smoother skin. It’s a losing battle to try to be like someone else, so instead, focus on being your bestself.
5. Spend time with people who love you for you
The fact is, being around critical, scrutinizing people puts each of us in a similar mindset. Surrounding yourself with positive, accepting people who give compliments freely will leave you in a more positive and self-loving state toward them and yourself.
6. Celebrate your gifts
While you may not love everything about your body, there must be some parts of it that you can appreciate. Do you have shapely legs? Beautiful hair? Thick eyelashes? Hands that can type quickly? A mouth that knows just the right words to say to comfort someone in pain? Be grateful for those qualities and allow yourself to recognize and honor them.
Remind yourself daily that you have been given one body to occupy, nurture and accept for the entirety of your life. It will be there to move you across a crowded street, to lift something that you need moved and to go with you to every important life event you have to attend. Accept it, embrace it and nourish it with kind words and healthy living.
Are you overly critical, or do you love your body? Take our quiz to find out.