The first time I thought of myself as beautiful, I was 21. I saw the picture above (taken at an event, so I was dolled up that day) and thought, “Wow! That’s me?” It was a little startling to think I was the pretty woman in the picture. This was my first (conscious) experience with perspective changing; I unwittingly happened on a tool that relieved me of a self-limiting thought (“I am ugly”) and increased my ability to shine. I just needed to look at myself through the lens of someone’s camera to see my outer beauty. Not that outer beauty is everything – one’s beauty goes so much deeper than their appearance – but I walk in this world with much more light now that I am confident in my appearance.
Since then I’ve been on a long long road of learning to see the beauty in the very things I don’t like about myself. I’ve managed to do this successfully in a few areas of life – and if you’re interested, here’s how you too can see the beauty in your ugly:
1. Define Your Ugly. In this step, you start with identifying and getting clear with that which you find to be the darkest, the worst. Dig deeply on this one! Get very specific about why you feel the way you feel. Is it that you are comparing your life (or some aspect of it) to someone else’s? Did someone tell you as a child this thing was ugly, and you believed it? If you are going to change the way you see your ugly, you need to know what you’re seeing. For example, as previously noted, I didn’t think I was beautiful until I was 21. Before that moment, I felt my body was ugly and my face not fit to be shown. Without realizing it, I was comparing my physical self to others, and was doing so because as a child, I was often compared to the children around me, who were slimmer. I was told that there was something wrong with me because I was fat as a child, and I believed it. For me to change my feelings about my body, I had to dig deep to discover where those feelings came from. You may find during this step that the ugly feelings you’re walking around with are a result of childhood experiences.
2. Face Your Ugly. By facing your ugly, I mean staring directly at your ugly. If your ugly is not something you can stare at, it might help to write out exactly what you think is so ugly in step 1 and in this step, rereading what you wrote. If it’s something physical, like your body, you can do what I did (and still do): completely undress and stare at your butt-naked body in a full length mirror. And when I say stare, I mean STARE. Give yourself like 1 whole minute of staring at you. It might be uncomfortable at first. But you cannot change anything if you are not facing it!
3. Accept Your Feelings About It. This step works in conjunction with facing your ugly. The word accept has a couple of different definitions, and is usually used to indicate “approval” of something. That’s not what I’m talking about here. By acceptance, you should accede to reality of whatever it is you find to be ugly. You faced your ugly, now you should accept it as it is in this moment. Another way of looking at this step is thinking of your experience with this part of your life as a map, with a dot or a blinking light letting you know where you are located. “You are here.” Accepting it is finding that dot.
Whatever you consider ugly is not likely to change in this moment. It doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t change your location on the map, so to speak. But for now, you are where you are. So, just take it as it is. For example, are you a size 18 (like me) but the fly dress you bought two months ago is a size 14? If you have found the dot, you would know that wearing the dress could be a bad idea.
4. Tell It That You Love It. You will likely be lying when you first try this. Dishonesty aside, you should try it. Literally, tell it that you love it. This step is all about “faking it until you make it,” and by “making it” you are creating feelings of love about a part of yourself. To take it a step further, take some time to come up with reasons why the “ugly” is actually a good thing. For example, my body is not in perfect health or in the best shape (that’s my dot), but it’s a great thing because it is what carries the rest of me from point A to point B. It’s how I get around and I am able to do so without much trouble. It’s what I use to communicate my thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams to the world. It is the vehicle through which I do everything. That is an amazing, beautiful, thing, and one reason I love my body.
5. Practice Indifference Towards Outside Opinions. People will always have their opinions on any given topic, and there are some who will feel like they have to share them with you, either because you asked or because they feel they have a right to share with you. Whatever! You need to practice indifference towards other people’s opinions on topics concerning your personal life, especially if your “ugly” opinions about yourself are founded on what other people told you. I am not advocating a lack of respect towards another person’s opinions, especially in instances where their input would make sense. Just know that you don’t have to agree one way or the other, and no one’s opinion of you means as much as your own. If the person who thinks your ugly parts are beautiful gives you reasons for their opinion that seem valid, those reasons may be worth considering. Just keep in mind, this process is about changing YOUR views about yourself. Other people’s minds can cloud your own, if you let them.
6. Repeat. Keep on doing these things and you might find that when you get to step 1 that your definition of “ugly” will evolve into “newly found beauty.” I experienced this when it came to my image and it’s amazing how much my mind has changed! Meanwhile, my body has not – but I’m working on it, because the body I now love deserves to be healthy! And even better – I do not feel any regret or shame about the way I treated my body in the past. I’m just moving forward, and the change in my view about my beauty is helping me improve my body’s health.
Changing my perspective has set me free, and I know a change in view will do the same for you.
P.S. This post is a modified version of what I wrote here.
P.P.S. One of my favorite fashion bloggers, Chastity Garner, has a really great post up that exemplifies how freeing it is to practice indifference to others’ opinions and appreciating that which she may have once found ugly. Please check it out: I Love Haters.