Being Beautiful – Let’s face it (pun intended); society is obsessed with appearance. Even though concepts of beauty seem to change every generation, our current culture’s obsession with gender fluidity, LGBQ options, along with “plus-sized” modeling has not changed the fact that we are still obsessed with how other people perceive us. Recent surveys found that over 50% of adults in the USA, UK, Australia, France, and Germany have a negative opinion of their weight and appearance.
I have probably lost 40+ lbs. 6 times in my life. Right now, I am doing it again, but this time it is for medical, not cosmetic reasons (high blood pressure). I have thrown away more diet pills than a small pharmacy.
It wasn’t until recently that I finally quit equating my body with my sense of self. It wasn’t easy, I still remember the pain of being picked last for a pickup game, being rejected by girls who preferred slim body types, being considered obese on the BMI scale, and my feet constantly hurting.
The torture that I have put my body through over the years to have a “nice body” amazes me. It started with losing 40 lbs. in high school in two months to make weight for wrestling. I have also run five marathons, even though it was torture for my body and my feet. I forced myself to run 6, 8, or 10 miles every day to “Slim” down.
Our society makes us feel uncomfortable when we don’t look right, or have the right clothes, or have the right “stuff.” We are looking for that perfect figure, that perfect companion (soulmate), that perfect career, and that perfect life. The irony is that the perception of perfection is all in our heads. We already have everything that we want inside of us if we are only willing to look to find it.
I stumbled on the secret to this realization recently when I was looking at my high school yearbook online. I found my senior year annual and looked at my photos. I was very surprised to see that I looked fit, although I remember feeling fat and out of place. This realization clued me into the reality that beauty has nothing to do with what we look like; it has everything to do with how we perceive ourselves.
Here are some key practices to seeing ourselves as beautiful.
(1) THE MIRROR IS MY FRIEND:
For most of my life, I avoided looking in the mirror. I must have thought I was a vampire or something (traditions say vampires can’t see themselves in the mirror). I was afraid of what I would see. I had to change my mind about that and say to myself, “I am beautiful,” while I was looking at my reflection. It is perfectly acceptable to want to be healthy and make changes to reflect that, but it is not acceptable to criticize what you see in the mirror. What we see is our own creation, and we must take responsibility for it. When we look in the mirror and think, “You are beautiful”, your mind will eventually believe it. Neuroscience calls that “neuroplasticity.”
(2) THE MIND:
We must remember that we perceive what is going on in our minds. If we are critical of our body, that is because we are probably overly self-critical anyway. Neuroscience confirms that we are what we believe. We must start loving (liking) our bodies and simply look for ways to be healthy, not try to fit into someone else’s definition of beauty. Quit looking at photographs of others that have probably been photoshopped anyway. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen all those gorgeous bodies in real life. The reason is they don’t exist anywhere but in our minds. Every time I meet someone famous, I usually think to myself, “Wow, they don’t look anything like their photograph.” Stop looking at photographs and wishing that you looked like that. They don’t really look like that, either.
The only person that gets a vote in your life is you. What other people think about you is none of your business and probably isn’t accurate anyway. The only opinion that matters is yours. For the most part, we are conditioned to worry about what everyone else is thinking about us, and that is nonsense. When I focus on my own life and leave everyone else alone, I am much happier. I am especially happier when I don’t care what anyone else thinks about me. To paraphrase Henry Ford, “Whatever you believe is right.”
Only you are responsible for what you look like, and even that probably is an illusion. We see what we want to see. Like my high school years, I wasn’t that fat after all, I just thought I was. Do your research, eat smaller portions, don’t eat crap, and get up off the couch. There are a lot of powerful natural ways to get to a natural healthy size. You don’t have to starve yourself, be patient. All you must do to start is to admit to yourself that you are beautiful. Our body believes everything we tell it.
I am still losing weight because I have a target weight of 165, which is what I weighed at my slimmest in high school so long ago. My perception of beauty has radically changed since then, and I consciously say to myself, for everyone I meet, “That person is beautiful.” That includes that guy in the mirror every morning. Beauty truly is an inside job.
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