On Being Comfortable In Your Own Skin
The essence of beauty isn’t the label on your clothes, the shape of your body or the colour of your skin. No. The essence of beauty lies in the way you carry yourself and the amount of respect with which you treat yourself.
I remember seeing an ad last year that really stood out to me. It was of this stunning, curvaceous, woman, walking through, what looked like a castle, in her lingerie and the male in this script couldn’t help but notice and give chase. It was an add for a brand called Additions, which sells plus size clothing and the model was Ashley Graham. I couldn’t help but think how sexy she looked.
She was far from the typical size zero you see on the catwalk and in fashion magazines. This woman had curves, hips, thighs and she stuck out in all the places that models usually do not. Her face was stunning, her hair long and shiny and her skin, flawless, but what really made me take notice was the way she moved. She strutted through the commercial like she was sexy and she knew it – and she was.
It really made me think about how our beliefs about ourselves shape who we become. The amount of self-confidence we have impacts our character, our behaviour, the decisions we make and what we put out there to be perceived by others.
All of us have flaws. All of us have things about ourselves that we would like to change, but it’s our attitude towards those things that ultimately decides whether or not we will succeed or fail in life. I’ve met people who can barely leave their house because they’ve been mistreated and they fear the judgement and cruelty of the world and I’ve met others who are so comfortable in their own skin that they are fearless and there is no limit to what they do and experience.
So how much do you allow limiting beliefs to affect your life? I showed two sets of pictures to five men with whom I work. One set was of super model, Gigi Hadid, the other was of Ashley Graham and I asked them, “Who would you rather sleep with?”
It’s ok, these men are used to me asking them strange questions! All of them said that they’d take both women. I then said what if Gigi wasn’t comfortable with her body? What if she couldn’t relax and felt inhibited during sex and Ashley was comfortable in her own skin and with her nudity? All of them quickly said, “Ashley.” When I turned the question around so that Ashley was the inhibited one, they all then said they’d want Gigi.
The mitigating factor in their decision wasn’t who was heavier and who was thinner, but rather who was more at ease with who they were. I used body size in this example but you could sub in anything, intelligence, confidence, etc. It’s all the same. Confidence matters. How comfortable we are in our own skin matters. It’s the difference between trying and not trying, taking risks or staying in our comfort zone. When we feel good about ourselves we feel like there is nothing holding us back. When we are comfortable with who we are we are limitless.
For many codependents, the idea of accepting themselves as imperfect beings is unmanageable. They have usually been told that there is something wrong with them, that they are flawed and they should be ashamed of these flaws. These perceived flaws lie in shadow, keeping the core self subdued because they become a very real part of who you may believe you are. What you may not realise is that they were the projections of someone who was taught to hate themselves. Children are easy targets. They are helpless, dependent and too emotionally immature to know better. Our job now as adults is to get out from under these repressive beliefs, by getting to the bottom of where they came from, acknowledging their illegitimacy and learning how to reprogram our minds.
Mindfulness: Always, always, always, keep your attention on what you are thinking. Challenge your harmful thoughts and don’t let them run wild all through your head. Ask yourself where they are coming from. Dismiss them and replace them with more empowering thoughts.
Redefine the standards you hold for yourself: Many codependents believe they have to get to Perfectville or bust. The problem with perfection is that it’s an illusion. It doesn’t exist and spending your whole life chasing it will have you missing out on really connecting to yourself and those around you. You’re an adult now and we get to decide what is acceptable and what is not. Let logic, compassion and reality be your guide.
Change the parts of you that you can and accept the parts of you that you can’t: Being a healthy individual means practicing self-care. Self-care means that you take care of yourself emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. Accepting yourself doesn’t mean that if you are behaving in an unhealthy manner that you’re just going to be ok with that. You owe it to yourself to be the best you possible. Know the difference between what you can change and what you can’t and learn to embrace what you can’t.
I don’t care: Let go of the need to impress or people please. What other people think of you is none of your business because their opinion doesn’t matter. Know that the world is full of people who are looking for a reason to be offended and people who get off on making other people feel small so they can feel big. Never give away your power to someone else. When you value and trust your own opinions, those of others will matter less.
Reclaim who you are: You are not everyone else’s expectation of you. You are who you say you are. You don’t need anyone’s permission and you don’t need anyone’s approval to be yourself. When you stifle your individuality and try to be someone else, you deprive the universe of the wonder that is you. Embrace who you are, put yourself out there and have the courage to be you.