A really good friend asked me the other day how they can become comfortable in their own skin. While I was honoured that they had asked me, the question also stopped me in my tracks and really got me thinking!
As a Photographer I meet loads of people on a day to day basis. The most mentioned thing when I am doing photo viewings with my clients is photoshop. Even if it’s mentioned in a joke like manner, it’s still mentioned. “Oh you couldn’t just make me a stone lighter could you?” “Wow! I didn’t realise I was loosing my hair, you couldn’t draw some on for me could you?” “Oh my god all I can see on every photograph is THAT spot!!! Can you edit it out for me?”
And just to clarify…men are just as bad as women for being self critical!!!
So, in answer to my friend, I got thinking and I have come up with 10 ways I have learnt to be happy in my own skin:
- STOP criticising yourself!!! Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. You wouldn’t tell your best friend that they were stupid if they made a mistake, well I would hope you wouldn’t.
- Prioritise yourself. There is a belief in society that if we put ourselves first then we are being selfish. I read a Chinese saying once that has stayed with me: You can not take from an empty barrel for it has nothing to give, therefore you must fill the barrel with what you want to give first until it is full and overflowing. Then giving becomes a natural process. In other words, you can’t give something to other people unless you give it to yourself first. So if you want to be kinder to others, start with yourself. If you want to accept others, then accept yourself.
- STOP saying sorry. No one should have to apologise for existing! Only say sorry if you really mean it. You don’t have to apologise for laughing too loud, for coughing or for being you.
- Talk nicely to yourself. Look in the mirror every morning for a week and tell yourself something that you like about yourself. You will be amazed at how hard you find this at first, but once you start it does get easier!
- Take care of yourself, both emotionally and physically. If you feel like you need to cry, then cry. If you feel like you need to beat the hell out of a pillow then do it. You need to make sure that you are looking after your body. Feed it the correct foods, drink plenty of water (flavour it with sugar free juice if you don’t like the taste of water), get plenty of rest and regular exercise. You wouldn’t expect your car to keep running without petrol would you? Your body is the same, it needs good quality fuel! Your body will thank you for looking after it. Always remember that you will have the longest relationship ever with your body and yourself…wouldn’t it make sense to nurture it like you would any relationship?
- Focus on your positive characteristics instead of constantly beating yourself up about your negative traits. EVERYBODY has positive and negative characteristics. It’s the universal principal of ying and yang, but it’s completely up to you what you choose to focus on. Personally I would rather choose to focus on what makes me feel good. That’s not to say you are ignoring any sides of yourself you don’t like, but you accept them.
- Take your power back. Realise that you and you alone are responsible for your thoughts and your thinking. No-one else got inside your head and made you think a certain way. When you realise this fact it can be life transforming as it gives you the power to be in complete control of your thoughts and your emotions! It puts you in the driving seat. Someone else may say something to you that is hurtful but it is up to you whether you accept their comment or choose to leave it with them. If someone gives you a gift and you refuse to accept it, who does the gift belong to?
- Stop comparing yourself to other people. Yes you can admire someone’s strength, skills, talents etc. but when you find yourself walking away thinking I am so useless compared to them, I can’t ever be like that, you have just slipped into negative thinking mode and need to revisit point 1 on this list. You don’t need to seek approval from others; guidance about your life and your journey comes from within, from your inner self. Other people can offer you advice and direction based on their reality and understanding of your situation, but ultimately no one can tell you what to do or how to live your life. Which brings me to don’t do things merely to please other people, that ultimately leads to resentment because you are not following your true path.
- Be who you are and say how you feel, because those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind! (Dr Seuss) You don’t feel the need to change who you are to suit other people. I can not stress how important this is, and how life changing this has been for me. It took me a while but I realised that the only reason another person will try and change you or control you is because of their OWN insecurities and weaknesses. Let them be responsible for their own insecurities. If you take them on as yours then they will never be able to develop them and become happy in themselves like you.
- Forgive yourself. This takes time, patience and practice but it is so rewarding.
It would be great to hear your additions to this list!