Most of us never stop questioning our physical appearance. Unfortunately, society places a lot of pressure on the idea of “beautiful”. TV and movies, magazines and books, as well as thousands of products and advertisements claim that there is only one “ideal” picture that must be met to be “beautiful”. This unrealistic and exclusive standard has been rooted in our minds from an early age. Research has found that 50% of girls between the ages of 3 and 6 worry that they are "fat" and nearly a third would change their physical appearance if they could. However, some studies also show that "beauty" is very subjective and personal. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is not only one way to be beautiful. Learning to accept yourself and be confident inside and out will help you feel beautiful every day. And research shows that when you feel beautiful, other people tend to feel that way too!
Method 1 of 3: Learn to Accept Yourself
Step 1. Love yourself
Appearances can be a source of embarrassment and emotional misery. Sometimes, this shame prevents you from seeing true beauty because you are caught in a cycle of feeling unworthy, unloved, unworthy, or unworthy. If others judge you by the artificial standards of society, you will also feel ashamed or humiliated. Self-love is an antidote to the shame that comes from judging others (or judging yourself). Here are some exercises you can do to start loving yourself:
- Recall an embarrassing experience or old wound from the past. Imagine what you wished the other person had said to you at that time. What words would you like to hear? Write down the words.
- Then, imagine those words on paper spoken to you by someone you love, admire, or care about. That person can be a good friend or even a spiritual figure. Listen and let the words sink in. Pay attention to the emotions you experience when you hear them. What do you feel?
- Practice saying these words or phrases aloud to yourself. Focus on the breath and let the words sink in as you breathe in deeply. Pay attention to how you feel when you hear those words from your own mouth.
Step 2. Think about how you would treat a friend
At times, we are much harsher to ourselves than to others. Think about how you would talk to a friend who doesn't believe she's beautiful. What will you say to him? Try to apply the same kindness to yourself.
- Imagine your friend comes in and says she doesn't like the way she looks. What would you say? How did you respond? Write it down.
- Think about your critique or feelings about your own appearance. How would you respond to yourself in a similar situation? Write it down.
- Compare the two. Is there a difference? If yes, why? What motivates your response for others? What motivated your response for yourself?
- Write down some ways to change the response to your own problem for the better and understanding.
- Research shows that people tend to choose friends who are in some way considered attractive. Think about what you think is beautiful in the person you love. You may find that the standards of beauty for your friends are much more inclusive than the standards you set for yourself.
Step 3. Resist self-criticism
Research shows that self-criticism can lead to anxiety and depression. Maybe you are unhappy with yourself because you compare yourself to the artificial standards of society, or because you have been judged by others and feel ashamed. The more often you practice fighting unhelpful or critical thoughts, the more likely you are to feel comfortable accepting yourself as you are.
- The human brain has an unfavorable tendency to focus on negative experiences and information so that the positive ones are overlooked. The next time your inner critic says you're not “______ enough”, remember that the brain doesn't always tell the truth. The brain may miss the positive when it focuses on the negative, which may not be true.
- For example, you may have critical thoughts such as, “Never mind. I can't be skinny. There's no point in trying."
- There are several ways to deal with thoughts like this. For example, you can search for reasons that make you want to be thin. Is it for health reasons agreed upon by you and your doctor? Or because you compare yourself to other people's beauty standards? Remember that no one can tell you what you should look like.
- You can also look for the positive side in yourself to fight these negative thoughts. For example, “I will not give up. Maybe I'm not skinny right now, but I'm going to work out to stay strong and be able to play the sport I like."
- You can also set new goals that show kindness and acceptance in yourself. For example, “I don't like going to the gym, but I like walking around the neighborhood. I don't need to exercise like people have to. I will do what makes me happy.”
Step 4. Practice being aware of your thoughts
One way that can help you deal with self-judgmental thoughts is to remember that they are only in your head. The thought is not necessarily "right". Trying to fight negative thoughts doesn't always work. In fact, you may become obsessed with the negative thought in an attempt to "get rid of it." You may be judging yourself for not being able to stop the negative thoughts. Instead, try to admit that the thought does exist, and then realize that the thought is not a fact.
- For example, “I have thoughts now that I am not beautiful. This is just a thought, not a fact. I can't control these thoughts, but I don't have to believe them."
- Practicing meditation can also help you become more aware of your thoughts. You can learn to accept it without judging yourself. Mindfulness meditation and happiness and love meditation are a good start. Studies show that meditation can actually change how the brain responds to stressors.
Step 5. Focus on the positive
Being surrounded by pretty stereotypes can leave you vulnerable to “filter” cognitive distortions, namely focusing only on what you “don't” like about yourself. Fight this distortion in the mind by turning it into a game. Whenever you think something negative about yourself, immediately look for something positive to counter it. It's a good idea to say something positive in front of the mirror so you can believe that what you're saying is true.
- For example, if you're thinking, "Uh, my teeth aren't straight," stop and look for something positive, like "My smile is bright and shows that I'm happy and encouraging others."
- Sometimes, guilt and judgment from the world make it difficult for us to find our own beauty. If you feel this way, try to start focusing on the amazing things you can do. Are you good at playing sports, lifting weights, dancing, running, laughing, breathing? Can you hug someone, sing or cook? Appreciating what your body can do will make it easier for you to find things to like about yourself.
Step 6. Make a list of self-esteem
Since the brain is great at focusing on the negative, counter this tendency by making a list of the positives about yourself. Deliberately taking the time to notice and jot down the things you like about yourself will help "store" them in your brain for later recall. If you're having a bad day, pull out that list of self-appreciations and reflect on the many things that make you beautiful as you are. Here are some questions to get started:
- What do you like about yourself and your life?
- What skills or abilities do you value?
- What compliments do you receive from others?
- What do you like about your appearance today?
- What success did you achieve today?
- What do you think is beautiful today?
- What aspects are you proud of about yourself?
- What do you find beautiful about the impact you have on others?
Step 7. Write yourself an apology letter
Learning to forgive yourself is critical to healing old wounds that may be preventing you from seeing your true value. Maybe in the past you made mistakes that keep you blaming yourself to this day. Maybe you feel guilty about past experiences. Either way, forgiving yourself can help you move forward.
- Be aware of experiences that make you feel guilty or sad. Write a letter to yourself in the past.
- Use kind and loving words. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a guilt-ridden friend or family.
- Remind yourself that mistakes are opportunities to learn, not something that will forever ruin your life.
- Make plans to use these past experiences as a way to improve in the future.
Method 2 of 3: Developing Confidence
Step 1. Question beauty standards
Because every day we are bombarded with the meaning of beauty that “should” be in society, it is easy for us to be deceived into accepting that the stereotype definition is correct. Remember that the definition is narrow, artificial, and exclusive. Often, "beautiful" by definition means tall, white, thin, and young. You don't have to accept other people's standards. Learning to recognize that these standards are artificial and unrealistic can help you realize that you are beautiful regardless of what other people think.
- The beauty standards promoted by the media that we see every day have a profound effect on us. Studies show that exposure to unrealistic body images can result in an increase in depressive symptoms and dissatisfaction with appearance.
- Do a search for “magazine Photoshop failure” or “airbrush model” to see how many of those beauty ideals are completely made up. Even supermodels cannot live up to these beauty standards without adjustment.
Step 2. Have an active journal
Writing in a diary or journal can help you identify unhelpful thought patterns. Keep in mind that stress and anxiety can affect the way you see and evaluate yourself, so you tend to think negatively more often. Put your negative thoughts or feelings down on paper. Be as specific as possible. Here are some questions that can help:
- What thoughts or feelings do you have?
- What do you do or focus on when you have that thought or feeling?
- What happens just before and right after that thought or feeling occurs?
- What do you think was the reason for that thought or feeling?
- What are other ways to respond to such thoughts or feelings in the future?
Step 3. Get used to being grateful
Gratitude is more than a feeling, it's a habit. Research shows that people who are grateful every day are happier and more optimistic than people who are ungrateful. To build self-confidence, focus on the positive things in your life.
- Acknowledge and reflect on positive moments. The brain can easily ignore positive information because it is always looking for the negative. The next time a friend compliments you or you feel really proud of yourself, enjoy the moment.
- Focus on the feeling when you are enjoying the positive moment. What senses do you use? How does your body feel? What do you think? Reflecting on these aspects can help you remember positive moments more strongly later on.
Step 4. Dress as best you can
It is very common for people to feel insecure, even ashamed, of their own bodies. Maybe you dress in such a way as to hide parts of your body that make you feel embarrassed, or because you don't feel "appropriate" to dress in a certain style. Maybe you feel the need to wait until you have the "ideal" body before buying attractive clothes. This will only destroy your confidence. Buy clothes that fit your body. Wear clothes that make you feel beautiful, regardless of external standards.
- Research shows that what you wear can affect your self-confidence. For example, one study found that people who wore a lab coat when doing simple scientific work were more confident and got better results than people who didn't wear a lab coat, even though the task was exactly the same. If you feel attractive and confident in your clothes, other people will think so too.
- How you dress affects how you feel about yourself. For example, actors often say that costumes help them get into character. So, dress according to the "character" you want.
- Look for clothes that fit your body. Studies show that when people wear clothes that fit their bodies well, other people tend to find them attractive.
- Wear what makes you happy. If you like doing makeup, do it. If you feel really good about wearing loose, comfortable pants, go for it.
Step 5. Take care of your body
Your body doesn't have to follow other people's standards. Consider the motivation in the way you eat and take care of yourself. Try not to do certain things because you feel you "have to" meet society's standards. Eating well, exercising, and developing good habits can make you feel beautiful through the act of appreciating yourself because you are worth it.
- Sport. Exercise releases natural mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Moderate exercise-running, swimming, or gardening-can also make you feel more energetic and positive. Just make sure you don't do it with the idea of "fixing" what went wrong or you'll end up feeling even more miserable mentally. Remember that you take care of your health because you love yourself.
- Eat well. How you eat greatly affects your mood. Make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. If you feel guilty after eating something, think about why. Maybe you want to avoid the food or want to teach it a new way to respond. And remember, everything must be moderate, including the commitment to mediocrity. If you really want to eat a piece of pie, you can indulge.
- Pamper yourself. You can pamper yourself with a hot bath, manicure or massage. Realize that you deserve to be treated well.
- Get enough sleep. If you don't get enough sleep, you can experience symptoms such as anxiety, depression, obesity, and irritability. Make sure you have time to sleep as much as your body needs.
Method 3 of 3: Practice with Others
Step 1. Hang out with people who care
Humans are very prone to “emotional contagion” which occurs when we adapt to the emotions of the people around us and begin to feel the same way. In other words, you're likely to feel the same way people around you feel. Researchers have found that support, compassion, and kindness from others affect the brain and well-being. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who are supportive and don't judge one another based on superficial and artificial ideas.
Ask for a hug. Physical contact with people you care about releases oxytocin, a strong bonding hormone that can also improve mood
Step 2. Say that you feel sick
Some people may make hurtful comments about your appearance without actually realizing that they were being rude. Others may say hurtful things because of their own problems. Defend yourself when this happens. Calmly tell him that he has hurt your feelings and ask him to stop. If he refuses, try to avoid him at another time. You don't have to tolerate judgment or rudeness from others.
Unfortunately, mocking the appearance of others is common. If you are the victim of ridicule, intimidation, violence, or other abusive behavior, report it to the appropriate authority figure, such as a school counselor or HR manager at work
Step 3. Ask for support
Even if you don't “need” validation from other people to be beautiful, listening to the affection and support of people you trust and love can really help. Talk about your feelings with a friend or someone you trust. Ask him if he's been through the same thing. Maybe you can support and encourage each other.
Step 4. Show kindness to others
Showing affection for others can make you feel happier and healthier. The next time you feel disappointed with your appearance, try to say something nice to the other person. Say what you want to hear. The kindness you give to others will also return to yourself.
As you know, beauty comes from within. Studies show that kind-hearted people are more likely to be perceived as physically attractive than unkind people. Other studies have shown that people who show empathy are more likely to be perceived as sexually attractive
Step 5. Pretend that you are beautiful
If you put off enjoying life until you "feel" beautiful, you could be waiting a long time. The brain can convince you that the criticisms and judgments are true. Start acting like you "already" feel beautiful. You can actually pretend to be beautiful until you really feel beautiful.
- For example, if you're worried about your body shape, buy something you want but aren't confident about wearing. Wear it somewhere. Repeat the following words, “I am strong and beautiful. This outfit accentuates my natural beauty and I feel happy.”
- Track your feelings. What does it feel like to convince yourself that you are worthy? Did you enjoy it?
- Look at other people's reactions. Perhaps you expect criticism or even ridicule. And chances are that someone will judge you that way. However, you will be surprised to realize that when you tell yourself that you deserve love and acceptance, other people will also accept you.
Step 6. Talk to a therapist
At times, the pressure to follow society's standards of beauty can cause deep wounds. The desire to meet these standards can also trigger diseases such as eating disorders. If you are powerless against negative thoughts about yourself, a counselor or therapist will teach you how to fight those thoughts and find ways to live a healthy and happy life.
- Eating disorders are now increasing, in America alone there are 30 million people who experience it. If you feel unattractive or dissatisfied with your appearance, you may be at risk of developing an eating disorder. This disorder is a severe medical condition that requires treatment.
- If you are frequently depressed, feel guilty about eating or appearance, feel “fat”, feel like you can't control what you eat, feel obsessed with the type or amount of food you eat, or are worried about gaining weight, seek help from a health care specialist. mentally as soon as possible.
- Remember that society's standards of beauty are unrealistic and cannot be met by anyone, not even actors and supermodels. Don't judge yourself by other people's standards.
- Write yourself a “love note” and share it at home. Write positive phrases and stick them on the mirror, on the cupboard, on the headboard, and anywhere else you can always see.