Last week I talked about “how to feel better about the way you look.” I mentioned that the way to feel better about the way you look is by focusing on feeling better about yourself and accepting that you may not “like” your appearance.
While your appearance doesn’t define your worth, it’s still nice to be able to make peace with the image looking back at you in the mirror. This is why I wanted to give you 7 ways to accept the way you look—either in pictures or when you see a reflection of yourself.
You can play around with these things to help you come to a place of nonchalance about your appearance.
7 ways to feel better about the way you look:
Choose body “nonchalance” over “love”
I rarely look at myself and think I look attractive or “oohhh, I love my body so much!” I save that type of adoration for edible objects with icing.
My emotions aren’t tied to my body anymore and I really don’t think about it much, which is what having a positive body image is all about. You can respect, be kind to and appreciate your body, but you don’t have to “like” it or find yourself attractive.
Expecting to feel that way can set you up for disappointment because those moments are rare. There is a big difference between looking in the mirror and thinking “I don’t really like the way I look” and having a neutral response versus seeing yourself and feeling shame.
Aim to come to a place of nonchalance, ambivalence or neutrality with your body… think “meh” over “oooohhh, sexy…I love my body so much.”
Recognize this is not your voice or the story you want to keep telling yourself.
A reflection and image is only a moment in time and when we feel negatively about it, it’s often because we’re perceiving it from an outside perspective. What we’re saying to ourselves is generally what we think other (horrible horrible) people would think.
The shame we feel is a response to a “there is something wrong with me” story in our head. Our appearance has come to represent thoughts such as, “I’m a failure,” “I’m not good enough,” “no one will ever love me,” etc. What does your appearance really mean to you?
When you can uncover this answer it becomes easier to see that changing your body is not the solution, rather changing the negative beliefs about yourself is.
No one else is going to change this story for you. But, you can, and you can do that by acknowledging the B.S. belief that’s not helping you and making a point of reinforcing a new story for yourself.
Expand your body repertoire.
Look at images of women of different shapes, sizes and ages not traditionally shown in the media—studies and lots of personal experience have shown this to be extremely helpful to redefining your perception of “beauty” and perception of yourself.
Load your Instagram feed with body positive women of various shapes, sizes, ages etc. and actively spend time looking at them to un-brainwash yourself of society’s beauty standards.
Be more loyal to how you feel versus your image.
Mirrors and pictures can horrible liars. If you were feeling good 10 seconds before you saw an image of yourself, remind yourself of that and ask yourself, “Do I want to be more loyal to my image or the way that I was actually feeling?” Come back to the way you were feeling before you saw the image.
Discover what is more important to you and chase after that.
Identify a few things that are more important to you than liking the way you look and focus on those things. For example, connecting with friends/family, reading feminist literature, being in nature, helping stray dogs, being adventurous, having fun, helping other people, living in the moment, etc. etc.
Make a point of actively focusing on the experiences you want to have in life that are more important to you than liking the way you look and you’ll find your body isn’t such a big deal anymore.
Have a go-to compassionate response.
Come up with a compassionate response you can use with yourself when you see your reflection (i.e. “You’re OK” or “You are enough” or “You are a badass bitch that is powerful and fierce and don’t let your brain tell you otherwise!” <<< I highly recommend this one).
This is not going to “fix” your initial response, but it will make it easier for you to accept it and move on.
Focus on the parts that you do like.
It’s common to spend all our energy on certain aspects of ourselves that we hate and neglect the things we actually appreciate and/or like. Perhaps you do like your eyes, hair or fingernails.
Aim for appreciation over “liking” it. In my case I can appreciate my mini-meatball hands for what they do without liking the way they look.
Try focusing your attention on those parts of you and as you feel better, start to shift your focus to other pieces of yourself that need some lovin’.
Remember, we all have good days and bad days and we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t really like.
I know that you’ve got this. I know that there is so much right with you that you don’t see for yourself yet. Keep looking…it’s there.