In a perfect world, we wouldn't judge ourselves. But, we don't live in a perfect world and we judge all the time. It wouldn't be that bad except we feel terrible when we don't measure up to unrealistic societal standards that we often use as benchmarks for beauty, success, and value.
Unless we live like the Buddha, it's pretty difficult to ignore society's yardsticks. I've worked on letting go for years and still haven't mastered it.
If you're as tired of focusing on your perceived shortcomings as I am, please join me in tossing out unrealistic notions of who we should be and let's start, once and for all, embracing who we truly are.
Here’s how it’s done:
First, determine your own values. Identify what makes you proud of yourself. You may be a good parent, a creative thinker, a compassionate caregiver, or a great friend. Take your time and really think about it.
Then, identify your self-putdowns that are based on unhealthy ideals. It's surprising how often we unconsciously belittle ourselves. Here are just a few examples:
- I'm fat.
- I'm too old.
- I'm not smart enough.
- I don't make a lot of money.
- I'm too short or tall.
This hurtful self-talk slowly strips away self-esteem, undermining the ability to feel satisfied with life.
Once you are aware of your negative self-talk, replace it with positive affirmations reflective of your true value system. For example:
- I value my wisdom and life experience.
- I accept myself exactly as I am.
- I have many creative gifts to offer the world.
- I am so much more than my financial net worth.
- I am beautiful just the way I am.
- I am a good friend and a compassionate listener.
- I'm a caring and attentive mother.
Say these phrases every day, throughout the day, especially when you catch yourself in harmful self-talk. These positive phrases will, over time, automatically replace the negative. Stick to it and you will find yourself feeling better and stronger.
Next, remind yourself that your circumstances do not define the person you are:
- Your job is what you do, not who you are.
- The size of your bank account does not determine your value in the world.
- You are as attractive as you feel.
When it comes right down to it, the traits that others associate with us such as kindness, comfort, compassion, humor, generosity, or wisdom define who we really are. Our accomplishments may be great, but they are only the icing on the cake.
Changing your identification from external to internal doesn't mean letting go of the goals and activities that you enjoy. This doesn't mean you order a second cheeseburger if you are health conscious, or you stop striving to be better. It simply means you honor who you are and what you bring to the world based on your values - not society's.
This process is no easy feat. After all these years, I must still remind myself that I am not my job, I am not my youth, I am not my money, I am not the size of my thighs, and I am not my face.
Instead, I am the quality of my spirit and the sum of my personal values.
I know that making this shift can be an uphill battle, but it will be more than worth the effort.