by Leo Babauta
One of the biggest manifestations of our fear that we’re not good enough is our belief that our bodies aren’t good enough.
Very few people are happy with their body.
I’ll say that again for emphasis: pretty much no one is happy with their body. Not you, not me, not our beautiful relative or co-worker, not that hot girl (or guy) you saw on the street today, not even beautiful celebrities like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt.
We believe we are too fat, or unfit. Or we think we’re too skinny, or too short, or too thick, or weird-looking. Or we’re not overweight but still want to lose 10 lbs. Or maybe we need more muscle or want to be more toned. Maybe we have great bodies but not enough definition in our abs. Maybe our skin is too dark or too pasty white. Or our eyes are too close together, or our teeth are crooked or over- or under-bitten. Our hair sucks. Our toes are ugly.
Can you see what we’re doing to ourselves? It’s a form of self-hate, and it causes us to be depressed, insecure, discontent with ourselves — and seek external forms of happiness.
If we recognize that we are judging ourselves badly based on fantasies of how we want to be and then realize it’s unhealthy and insane, we can start to reverse it.
Let’s start by realizing that we have these fantasy images and unrealistic expectations. They are totally unnecessary. Let’s toss them out.
Now let’s look at the comparison: Why do we need to compare ourselves to others or the images we have of others (who are, after all, also flawed)? What does this do for us? It’s harmful, not helpful. Let’s toss this out too.
What about the judgment? Do we need to judge ourselves at all? Do we need to say, “This is good, but not this”? What if we just said, “I love all of it, without judgment”? Isn’t this how we’re supposed to love our children or spouses or parents — totally, unconditionally, without judgment? Can’t we love our bodies the same way — totally, unconditionally, without judgment?
So then, if we toss out fantasies, expectations, comparisons and judgments, the bad feelings and bad images go with them.
When you notice these judgments, realize that they’re not helping you, and that they’re harming you by creating these bad images of yourself, making you insecure about yourself.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t try to do things that are healthy — eat healthy food, form healthy exercise habits — but you can do those things without thinking that your body sucks. You can accept your body as it is right now and still want to do healthy things out of the joy of doing them, and out of compassion for yourself.
This all takes practice, and I’m not saying you’ll do it overnight. I’m still learning myself. But again, start by noticing and start letting go. Start to love your body, without judgment, without reservation, without wishing it were anything but what it is: beautiful, and you.
Take a look in the mirror. Do it naked if you can, or at least lift up your shirt and look at your torso, and then your face. What do you see? Do you notice your judgments? Do you notice what you’re judging yourself on — what you’re comparing yourself to? You might not realize exactly what that fantasy ideal is — but it’s based on images in the media and others you’ve seen in your life.
Try looking at your body (and face) without judgment. Accept it for what it is, without thinking, “I wish it were different.” It’s not different. It’s exactly how it is, and that’s the perfect version of what it should be. There is no better version.