Liking Yourself In The Mirror: 8 Tips to Make it Easier
Let’s face it, in western culture especially women are “expected” to meet the standard of the ideal female image portrayed in the media. But most of us, by far, don’t have the time or resources that the celebrity types have. We have limited budgets, and the thought of personal trainers, makeup consultants, and dietitians is just a fantasy. So we struggle trying to keep it all together, both physically and emotionally. Sometimes, it’s hard liking yourself in the mirror because we’re so self-critical.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a Neuropsychologist and teaching faculty member at Columbia University, shared some tips to help put things in better perspective. Counseling that we should separate our happiness and self-worth from our physical image, she encourages us to focus on things that provide lasting satisfaction and are rewards in themselves. Here are her insights.
Beauty is no panacea.
On average, attractive people are not happier than their homelier peers. “A sense of optimism and hope, gratifying relationships and meaning and purpose in your life have much more influence on your happiness than do your looks,” says Dr. Hafeez.
Celebrity Media Images Do Not Exist
Understand that the women we see in magazines, advertisements, and television shows do not actually exist. They are phantoms, created by tricks of makeup, lighting, and Photoshop, not real women! Yet we compare ourselves to them, and decide that we don’t measure up. You’ve probably heard Cindy Crawford’s famous line, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.” Because the real Cindy Crawford (who is a beautiful woman) doesn’t look anything like the woman we see in magazines or on television. “So don’t compare yourself to women who don’t exist,” says Dr. Hafeez.
Don’t Compare Yourself
Or, at least, don’t compare yourself with people whose bodies are unrealistic goals for most of humanity. If your standard of attractiveness is too high, you’ll always be discouraged. Dr. Hafeez points out that, “Most of us will compare ourselves whether we want to or not. “Try to compare yourself to other normal people in your culture, and who are about your age. This will make you feel so much more attractive than when you compare yourself to unachievable ideals.”
Remember What Your Body Can Do
When you feel unattractive, it’s easy to focus on all of the things that are wrong with your body. When you think about what your body can do, the gifts it gives you, you will feel more attractive simply because you will feel better about your body, and it’s hard to think well of something and be down on it at the same time.
Say “Thank You”
When you give thanks, you focus on what is good about your life. If you’re feeling unattractive, focus on things you’re thankful for about your body. You may love the texture of your hair, or the way your calves fit so well in boots. Dr. Hafeez says that, “Even if most of the things you’re thankful for are little, the act of giving thanks for them will help you feel more attractive.”
Do Something That Scares You
“It’s easy to fall into routines that turn into ruts, but trying new things literally triggers a happiness response in the brain, says Dr. Hafeez. So do something you’ve always thought looked fun but never had the nerve to try. That spin class you’ve been talking about trying is a great place to start. Go skydiving. Travel. Learn a new language. Get your Scuba certificate. Endorphins are a powerful thing, and you can stimulate them right now for immediate gratification and long-term gain.
Be an Observer, Not A Judge
Don’t issue good/bad/pretty/ugly judgments when you look in the mirror. “If you have a scar, you can decide to see it as a flaw or simply as a memory of an injury,” says Dr. Hafeez.Try to take in your physical attributes the way you would those of a child or beloved friend—with appreciation and acceptance, not criticism.
Show the world that you know you are beautiful where it counts. “Your self-confidence rises in direct proportion to your self-acceptance, remarks Dr. Hafeez. Love the unique and beautiful person you are and share that with the world. This is basically a case of “fake it till you make it,” and that’s not a bad thing.
Smile When You Look in The Mirror
As much as anything else, dare to smile when you look in the mirror. You might be pleasantly surprised as you find how easy it really is to like yourself, just as you are. And that’s a great base from which to build an awesome future.
Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a New York City based Neuropsychologist and School Psychologist. She is also the founder and director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. She is currently a teaching faculty member at Columbia University. Click here to see Dr. Hafeez on Dr. Oz: