This is a topic I’ve wanted to touch on for a while now – about finding comfort (and dare I say it, happiness!) in our own skin. It’s one of the easiest changes we say we are going to make in our lives, but one of the hardest to actually do. It’s easy to read a post or a quote about “falling in love with yourself,” but to actually look at yourself in the mirror, or more importantly to reflect within, and be in love with what you see and feel is tough. It’s a journey. But it’s attainable, and it’s got to be the most important journey we can possibly take ourselves on.
This is an issue I spend a lot of time thinking about. I think about it in regards to myself, the people I know and most often (strangely enough) in people that I observe. I am sort of cursed with the quality of being painfully observant (it can be a blessing when it comes to writing), so when I am in a room with a lot of other people I can’t help but observe, analyze and make postulations. I don’t do it in a judgmental way, it’s more of a subconscious habit, but I do make a note of people’s faces, bodies, the way they carry themselves, the way they interact, how happy/unhappy/distracted/present they look, etc.
Think about it: you are placed in a room full of people. For the purpose of this post, let’s say it’s a room at a yoga studio. The room is pretty packed; it’s a popular class. Everyone is coming to practice yoga, so if nothing else they are motivated to do something good for their body. This generally means most people in the room are going to be fit or be on the road to a healthy lifestyle. Think about how many of these people are comfortable in their bodies. Likely a very small portion of them. Then think about how many of them are happy with the way their body looks. An even smaller portion. And to be completely honest, maybe none at all.
I look around the room and pick out the fittest people, or the happiest people, or the fittest and happiest people in an attempt to gauge who falls into the category of being happy with the way that they look. In the yoga studio I see a lot of people with awesome bodies. But the thing is, no one is perfect. The people who have bodies that I think are awesome probably have a thing or two that they don’t like about the way that they look, and chances are they have a few pounds they’re trying to lose or body parts they want to tone up.
That’s the sad thing about living in this image-driven world – we can be entirely perfect and beautiful in a stranger’s eyes, but in our own eyes we pick ourselves apart. We might be healthy, active, fit and attractive, but we are always going to find that one thing about ourselves that we don’t like. And if we fix that, we will already be focusing on the next issue.
I often do this weird thing where I think about if I had to choose to be in another person’s body in the room, whose would it be? Then I go through my analysis again: physical fitness, level of happiness, level of comfort in their body. I usually try to pick someone who is smiling, laughing or comfortably interacting with other people in the room. There are some people with rock solid abs and not an ounce of fat on their body, but sometimes there’s an undeniable intensity in their eyes that makes me wonder if they are content with themselves or if they are terribly unhappy.
I think we should all challenge ourselves to let those judgments of ourselves go. Problem is, we have already established how hard that it is to do. So I pose this test to you: view yourself from someone else’s eyes. Look at yourself as the stranger in the yoga room sees you, or the girl on the sidewalk or the new co-worker you haven’t gotten the chance to know yet. See yourself from the eyes of a stranger, a loved one, or an old friend. See it all. Tell yourself you can be that person that someone else chooses to be. Because you are happy, healthy, friendly and confident. Not because you have a perfect body.
Let’s be honest, we aren’t going to be happy with ourselves 100% of the time. I’m admitting this as someone who prioritizes health and exercise above most things in life. It’s just the truth. You’ve got to be realistic and set achievable goals for yourself if you want to reach them. And once you do that, you can begin the process of falling in love with yourself.
Next time you look in the mirror, I challenge you to pretend you are seeing yourself for the first time. Pretend you have one shot to make an impression on yourself. How would you carry yourself? What would you want to see?