Updated: Oct 15, 2021
It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. Not truly. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself. The wrinkles and laugh lines don’t tell a complete story. Not when looking in the mirror.
Why can’t we see ourselves as honestly as others can? Why do we get hung up on the little details that don’t even matter? We see only the flaws as one might in an aging mirror (which is a real thing, if you’ve ever been in a bathroom with harsh fluorescent lighting). Give yourself a break. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Where did we learn this cruel incessantly nagging behavior? Would we be as harsh to anyone else as we are to ourselves? Is it a female thing? I know I have heard girls say mean and unsupportive things to one another. Boys don't seem to have that same mean-spiritedness. Sure, they'll punch each other in the face, but then once the punches stop flying, they are again buddies, and all is right in the world. Girls, women ... not so much. We have a way with words, we have a way to find the sharpest blade. We know just where to stick it, too, and how best to turn it, causing the most damage. Why can't we be more supportive? Especially of ourselves? I know, for sure, people who are in pain cause pain for other people thinking it will help them feel better. Even knowing that, knowing it is HER problem, and not your own is not helpful when the barbs are flying, especially when they fly in front of peers. And, sadly, if we hear these mean things often enough, our own inner voice starts mimicking the mean words, too, towards ourselves.
No. Enough already.
Know this: there is not enough time, not enough space, not enough energy for you to continue to carry about this poor image of yourself. Know this: the energy you are spending wishing for something different - hair, clothing, nose, skin, height - can be used for things that are ever more important and lasting. Appreciate your hips because they carry you every day, and if/when you become a mom, they will be part of the miracle of birth. Appreciate your eyes because they will see every moment of emotion and of feelings and of happiness and they will gain wrinkles with every smile. Appreciate your hair because it will curl and knot and twist with every breeze and rain. Know this: there is no such thing as an opinion that matters on your appearance except those you allow to matter. Chose those who matter wisely.
The kindness and compassion we can and should extend towards others should also be a gift we can give ourselves. We can be gentle in our self-commentary, allowing for forgiveness when we make a mistake, and giving room to grow and try again. We can incorporate nurturing thoughts to our own problems, as we might for our friends or children. We can be patient if things take a little longer. If you hear harsh words coming from your own brain, ask yourself: would I say that out loud to another person? How do I feel when I hear these negative comments? And then deliberately stop the words. As your mother probably told you when you were young: if you have nothing nice to say, it is better to say nothing at all.
If you would like to take a deliberate step towards noting and then quieting that inner critic, try this simple meditation: https://www.mindful.org/basic-meditation-tame-inner-critic/
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