Posted on 1st March 2021 at 15:29
You would think that accepting ourselves by the time we reach mid-life is normal. By this age, we have experienced life, achieved a great deal and have have more insight about ourselves. So, why is it so common for us not to accept who we are and celebrate our greatness?
I was talking to a friend the other day and we got onto the subject of accepting ourselves. My friend, who had recently turned 50, said that she had always found it difficult to “make peace” with her physical self. She recalled looking at pictures of herself when she was thirty and remembering how she had thought she was fat and unattractive at the time. When she looked back now, she thought she looked great – healthy and confident. I recently had a similar experience when I watched a video from 2003. My husband and I had taken a year off to travel around the world. This was our honeymoon and we quit our great careers to explore and have the adventure of a lifetime. He recently had the old tapes transferred to DVD so we could watch ourselves backpack across South America and all the other amazing places we visited. I looked so young, so fresh, so natural but I didn’t think it at the time.
Going back to my friend, she shared a story about her mother. This woman is nearing 80 and still isn’t comfortable with herself. Apparently, she berates herself regularly about her weight and is still critical about her appearance. I found this sad. When do we start to accept ourselves? Never? That seems like a waste of energy to me. Wouldn’t it be better if we learned to like ourselves and accept ourselves now, so that we can make the most of life? I feel for young women of today, as they have created an almost cartoon like image of beauty that many of them feel an undeniable pressure to conform to. Fake lashes, pouty lips, fake nails and other ‘enhancements’ that almost seem standard, if you are to believe Instagram. It’s almost as if being natural or fairly natural just isn’t acceptable anymore. Who wants to see a natural women, young or old?
It's not always physical
Accepting yourself isn’t always about physical appearance, even though there are very few women who do not talk about this (me included). When I work with women, I get to know them pretty well. Some of the conversations we have, are revelations – things they never knew about themselves. One of my roles is to help women expand their self-awareness, so they can take positive action to create their best future. If they don’t understand themselves, they can’t do that. On a recent program we started talking about personality and how society seems to favour people with a preference for extraversion, rather than introversion. My client is an introvert – quiet and thoughtful, reflective and kind. I admire her greatly for her poise and empathy, but she had always seen this as a weakness. Through our conversation, she started to see that there are great benefits to her introversion. This allows her to be creative and innovative, to have a quiet authority in what she is doing, in a way that people listen and respect what she says.
This illustrates a challenge for all of us. How do we see what is right about ourselves, rather what is wrong? As humans we are hard-wired to look for faults, problems or imperfections. It is much harder to look for strengths or positives. Think honestly - do you accept who you are? Do you like and admire who you are? How do we use our unique characteristics to be our best?
Nobody is perfect. I hear you gasp. Unless you want to live your life through an Instagram filter, you have to start accepting yourself and liking what you see - warts and all.
1) Think about what you DO like about your physical self. You may have an amazing, gravity defying chest or pretty feet. It doesn’t matter – what do you like? If ever I complain about any body part, my Irish mother-in-law will point out “at least you have legs (replace this with your body part of choice)!” She is right of course. Our bodies are amazing machines that help us tackle life. We need to be thankful for them and learn to love them more.
2) Rather than feeling apologetic about what we can’t or don’t do, let’s start focusing on what we do achieve and the positive impact we have on ourselves and others. We take this for granted and do not take the time to congratulate ourselves enough. If you struggle with this, start to write it down. Keep a special notebook where you record your successes and achievements. You will surprise yourself and over time you will start to believe it.
3) Lastly, how do we make peace with our weaknesses? We all have them. Personally, I think my weaknesses are freeing. If I have a weakness in an area, this is telling me to let it go and to use my strengths to achieve my potential. I will never turn my weaknesses into strengths but I might need to do enough to get by. That’s ok. That's not my thing.
If you are struggling with any of the topics mentioned in this blog or feel like now is the time to thrive, please book a no-obligation discovery call today (link at the bottom of this page).
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