As women, we can be rough on ourselves. As silly as it sounds, we so often compare our bodies to the unrealistic standards that are set by plastic, Photoshopped models in glossy magazines.
If we want to be truly confident about our bodies, it’s time to shift the general perspective.
The Powerful Hold of Negativity and Self-Judgment
Would you say your life is characterized by self-judgment? If so, you aren’t alone.
Critical judgment of oneself involves thoughts you have about yourself and the implications and meaning of those notions. In most cases, self-judgment consists of negative assessments and feelings of inadequacy.
When you allow yourself to get stuck in a cycle of anxiety, bitterness, and frustration, it becomes extremely difficult to reestablish clarity. To some level or degree, self-judgment is a problem for every person: man, woman, teenager, or child.
But for women in our 21st-century American culture, the unavoidable pull is toward critical judgment of our physical form. We feel that we don’t match up to the “standard,” which fosters feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and even depression.
The key to a more contented life that’s characterized by freedom from social norms and acceptance of one’s unique self is to break the negative cycles of self-judgment, and learn to love the body you have. You need to embrace body confidence and stop being a prisoner of your unrealistic expectations, which are mostly driven by external commercial forces.
Four Ways to Embrace Body Confidence
It’s easy to say you wish to embrace body confidence, but actually going out and doing it is a much greater challenge. Here are four concrete steps you can take to that end.
1. Stop Comparing
When you find yourself making comparisons, immediately try to shift your focus to something else. To start with, you’ll find that most of the comparisons you’re making are unrealistic.
If you’re 45 and have three kids, where’s the sense in comparing yourself to a 19-year-old model who is barely out of high school, or even a twenty-something? There’s nothing to be gained from that kind of unfair matchup.
2. Get Over the Notion of Perfection
If you’re living as if you expect to achieve perfection, you’ll drive yourself to collapse. It’s an unrealistic burden that nobody’s designed to carry.
“Being happy with your body doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It simply means you’ve chosen to embrace your imperfections,” therapist Jacqueline Hurst writes.
“It means the bump at the bridge of your nose is a beautiful, fabulous part of you as you are, being real. Every day, practice looking at yourself in the mirror and being grateful for the body you have. It’s an incredibly powerful exercise and sends all the right kind of empowering messages to your brain.”
3. Invest in the Right Clothing
Ditching self-judgment doesn’t mean you’re going to let yourself go and cease to care about your physical appearance altogether. It just means you’ll stop letting the world define who you are and focus more on doing the things that make you feel good.
Accentuating your physical strengths will make you feel more confident about who you are … and that’s what matters the most, isn’t it?
4. Surround Yourself With Body-Positive People
“If there are people who are constantly putting you down, being rude to you, or are just bad influences on your self-esteem, do your best to cut those people out of your life or spend less time with them,” relationships expert Kristin Salaky writes.
“More importantly, prioritize the people who spend their time supporting you and building you up.”
If you surround yourself with body-positive people, you’ll notice a significant shift in the way you view yourself and others. This is perhaps the most powerful yet easy course to adopt.
Love Who You Are
In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you. Shout aloud, I am glad to be what I am. Thank goodness I'm not a ham, or a clam, or a dusty old jar of gooseberry jam. I am what I am, what a great thing to be. If I say so myself, happy every day to me!”
Just as Dr. Seuss attempted to teach us when we were young children, each of us is different from everyone else, in our own way. The fact that we’re unique makes us special.
You don’t look just like the model in the center spread of your favorite magazine … but so what? You are who you are, and life can be so much finer when you embrace that.