It’s easier said than done but if you can stop yourself from striving for perfection, you’ll be well on your way to finding your inner peace.
It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll jump out of bed every morning and like what you see staring back at you in the mirror – even those we perceive to be ‘perfect’ will have down days or aspects of themselves they’re hung up on. The key is to put it into perspective and focus on the bigger picture, rather than the smaller details that suddenly swell and expand until they become all-consuming.
“We have literally been ‘taught’ to feel badly about our bodies in the past with images in magazines and the media but sometimes stepping away from that to gain some perspective can be magical,” says body confidence expert, Alex Light. “That isn’t to minimise anyone’s struggle with body image but as humans, we’re all preoccupied with fitting one, very specific standard of beauty but we’re happy to embrace and appreciate the diversity in things like nature or dogs – how boring would it be if there was only one dog breed in the world?! Beauty lies in our diversity and uniqueness and to accept that is a powerful choice and one that means you can finally be at peace with yourself.”
Thankfully, society is changing and while celebrities and influencers are still impacting people’s perceptions of how they want to look, more people and brands are advocating more realistic beauty standards. “Fashion brands are showing different body types, skincare brands are using more diverse representations as well as highlighting various skin conditions and celebrities are embracing natural beauty – for example Pamela Anderson attending Fashion Week without wearing any make-up,” says Kelly Weekers, psychologist and author who specialises in harnessing your authenticity.
“The beauty industry remains dominant and thrives when we want to alter ourselves or at least try and achieve the ‘ageless’ look but the ‘inner beauty’ industry is now one of its biggest competitors. Everything health and wellness – from therapy to supplements is on the rise and this is creating a big shift from – ‘how can I look like her/20 years younger?’ to ‘how can I feel like the best version of myself?’, she continues.
IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN CONFIDENCE AND AGEING?
You may have noticed certain periods of your life where you feel better about yourself than others but in the realms of psychology, it’s proven that your mid-life is when you’ll feel your most confident. “Research has shown that self-esteem peaks in one’s 50s and then sharply drops in old age,” explains Kelly. “A person’s level of confidence and self-esteem typically follows a bell curve, gradually rising during late teen years, peaking during middle age and declining after 60. Suggestions of why this is show that with age many people shift their focus to the importance of body function and health and put less importance on how they look. With age, we tend to better see what is truly important to us and trying to look perfect generally isn’t top of the list anymore.”
TIPS TO HELP YOU FEEL MORE POSITIVE
Feeling happy and confident in your own body doesn’t mean you have to love every wrinkle, spot or patch of cellulite but it’s about seeing the bigger picture, accepting the things you don’t like and then focusing on the good parts and celebrating your body for everything it’s helped you do and achieve.
“Remember that ‘imperfections’ make you unique and your flaws are part of what makes you who you are so you should embrace them as a vital aspect of your individuality,” says Dr Galyna Selezneva, aesthetics doctor with a background in psychiatry. “I have been working in aesthetic medicine for over a decade and while I of course follow industry trends, it’s very refreshing to see that natural looks are becoming so much more popular.”
Still not sure where to start on your self-love journey? Kelly suggests starting with these simple tricks:
- Be very practical and make sure the words you exchange with yourself are positive, supportive and motivating. Talk to yourself as someone who has your best interests at heart.
- Stop pointing out the things you don’t have or don’t like about yourself and focus on the things you do like. We underestimate the negative effect we have on ourselves by being our own biggest critic but your brain believes whatever you tell it, so make sure you’re telling it positive and encouraging things.
- Add in some affirmations. Phrases like – ‘you are beautiful just the way you are’ and begin to incorporate these into your daily routine.
- Be authentic. Whatever authenticity looks like to you is fine – whether that’s wearing no make-up or walking around with full hair and make-up wearing your most beautiful outfit, as long as you are staying true to you, that will help ensure you feel your best self. (Check out the chapter of how to connect with your authentic self in The Book of Rituals).
Dr Galyna also suggests surrounding yourself with positive influences: “Spend time with people who support and uplift you rather than those who bring you down. We are lucky enough to have a body positivity movement right now so if you do look to social media, search out those profiles that will boost how you feel about yourself and quash any negative self-talk.”
READ MORE: How to set positive affirmations?