The Courage to Accept Your Own Beauty

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

As I was looking in the mirror, I was feeling the soft curves of my body, all the way down to the flesh on my belly to where it met my hips. I was frowning at my “belly pooch” as I pinched my skin between my fingers. I had a name for my belly pooch and the other not so desirable places on my body.

I called those places “my chubs.”

My partner and I like to play fight. As we often chased each other around the apartment, he would playfully tease me about “my chubs.” I would always squeal back at him with a “don't touch my chubs” as I tried to tickle him.

It was all fun and games. However, there was a small part of me that the detested how I felt when my “chubs” would get tickled or playfully grabbed.

You may be thinking, “Why don’t you just ask him to stop tickling you?” Being tickled is a symptom of a problem, rather than a problem in itself.

The problem is that I was more frustrated at myself because I allowed other people’s words and actions to feed my worst enemy—my inner critic.

There are days when my inner critic can be extra cruel.

Like countless people out there, I've put my body through a lot with all the latest diet trends. From keeping track of my calories, to the slow-carb diet, the no carb diet, vegetarianism to even eating only one meal a day. I was constantly looking for something to help me feel beautiful on the outside.

No matter how much weight I lost, I still couldn’t see the beauty my lover saw. Even when I was making progress, the friendly tickle fights with my lover or a quick glimpse of my reflection in a window would stir up negative emotions.

Whenever this happened, my inner critic would often hurl me down the depths of despair and a sea of self-loathing.

I could easily blame the media’s portrayal of what a beautiful woman looks like by picking up a magazine, turning on the television or looking at a billboard.

Or I could blame the pornography industry and how they’ve fostered the stereotype that all men want a woman with a small waist and a huge chest as the reason behind my feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’m going take full responsibility of my own emotions rather than blame my external world on how I feel internally.

It’s human nature to want what you don’t have.

For example, if you’re skinny, it’s only natural to want to have curves. If you’re overweight, you can’t help but yearn for a slender body. If you’re short, you may want to be taller. If you’re six foot tall, you may kill to be five inches shorter (unless you play basketball, of course).

Here’s the thing, unless you’re filthy rich and can afford plastic surgery, there is nothing you can really do about changing your height or your body type.

If you’re overweight and want to shed off extra pounds, make sure you do it for the right reasons (like feeling healthy and having more energy) instead of basing your state of happiness on how you feel on the outside.

As much as we need to accept and embrace the reality of our situations, most importantly we need to accept ourselves—no matter what we look like internally or externally.

If you can’t love yourself for whom you are, then how are you ever going to feel good enough to get what you want?

If you ever want to find a loving relationship, get the job of your dreams, or achieve your aspirations, you must have this one belief ingrained into your mind:

The only person who can decide that you’re good enough, smart enough, and beautiful enough is you.

By shifting your mindset and how you feel about yourself, you can radically change your life.

Keep in mind that the difference between those who are happy and those who are not is how they choose to cope with their emotions and their perspective of the world.

You can’t control what happens to you or people’s opinion of you, but you can control how you respond to them. By basing your emotions on what you can’t control (people and life circumstances), you’re essentially creating more suffering for yourself.

It may not always be easy, especially if you’re accustomed to letting your inner critic guide your life. But by taking one step everyday toward self-love and acceptance, you’ll finally reach the total freedom to be yourself and live a life based on your own terms.

I invite you to have the courage to accept your beauty—chubs and all.

Photo by kathryntaylor

About Mika Maddela

When Mika isn’t stuffing her face with chocolate, she writes relationship advice  on her blog, The Path to Passion. Mika is passionate about helping people enjoy better relationships and be loved for who they are. Stop by and say “hello,” she would love to get to know you.

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  • Hi Mika,
    This is really an unique angle of looking at ourselves. We cry so much for the acceptance by others where as there is already a perfect inner critic residing in ourselves. We are our own critics 🙂

    I liked the way you presented this very insightful thought.

  • R_mkrtchyan

    Thank you. I really loved it. 

  • So true Mika!
    Why are we soo hard on ourselves? Where did we learn to be so critical of ourselves?
    The amazing thing is that when we choose it, disengaging from our “inner critic” can become a wonderful new habit. And then, we see what a beautiful world we are actually living in and what beautiful people we really are!
    Thank you. I really enjoyed your post.

  • Whitney

    Perfect post for the day after feasting! My inner critic has been mean this morning…this post was good perspective. Thank you, Mika!!!

  • Sunpup63

    “It’s human nature to want what you don’t have.”  Not always true.  While I do agree that we can be harder on ourselves than anyone else is, I wouldn’t trade who I am… physically or otherwise… for anyone else in the world.

  • Mailjessicamoore

    After struggling with an eating disorder as a teen, I’ve come to realize that it’s a diseased mindset…one that I must audit each day. Would we speak these awful words to our loved ones? Why is it OK to speak to ourselves like this? Glad I read this today, thanks for posting.

  • unionmaid

    Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book True Love, writes about breathing mindfully using the mantra, “Dear one, I am here for you.” The focus can be your partner, child, parent, etc. But i think it is wonderful to start with ourselves. We should be our own “dear one.” Your article illustrates how important it is that we love ourselves, and as the buddha says, lighting our own candle first allows us then to light the candles of thousands of others without our own being extinguished. Good advice to take 1 step each day towards that self love! thank you!

  • Haha, yes perfect timing, this weekend I have been so hard on myself from all the holiday treats. The only thing I can do is look forward and aspire to take ACTION instead of wallowing in self-pity.

  • Thank you for your lovely comment and kind words:)

  • Naveen, Thank you, I’m glad you like it. It’s really important that we use our negative emotions to FUEL positive outcomes. This is something I try to remember when my inner critic is berating me.

  • liz


  • Thanks. I’ve noticed it’s difficult for many of us to accept a compliment, but when our inner critic says something, we EAT IT UP… it boggles my mind. thanks for you comments:)

  • Angela, thank you!

  • Suelynn6789

    I struggle every day with image issues. Now I’m dealing with aging and all the physical changes associated with that. Living in southern California only makes it worse with all the beautiful tan young women everywhere. I know I have had my day in the sun and it’s time for the younger women to have theirs. Trying to keep it all in perspective is challenging. I need to concentrate on my blessings. I struggle with this daily and I really appreciate your insights thank you.

  • This is an important and timely topic for me.  After several years making positive strides in my spiritual journey, I am aware now more than ever of the adverse impact of my low self-esteem and self-loathing.

    I can observe them acting in my life.  As I work to silence the negative voice,  I see this deeply ingrained set of negative beliefs become more insidious in it’s self-sabotage.

    I’m not sure how to have a significant impact on reshaping these long held inner beliefs about my low worth.

    I do regularly meditate, but would also appreciate some additional active “tools” to work in this area.

    Any suggestions appreciated.

  • unionmaid

    here is a wonderful book that helped me: “There Is Nothing Wrong With You” by Cheri Huber (available on amazon). Huber operates 2 zen spiritual centers in california and has written numerous books that speak beautifully to the power of our true selves. This particular bookl in helped me deal with the voices of ego-conditioning that have held me back for so long. Hope this helps you too!

  • Sue, true beauty begins from within. Liberate yourself from your own negative beliefs and let your inner light SHINE. Regardless of your age, you’re BEAUTIFUL. You just have to realize it. I grew up thinking I was UNLOVABLE all my life. My, how much I’ve transformed my life and mindset, although it was difficult. It all begins from the inside out. And now.. I’m in a much happier place. I know you can get there too xx! Mika

  • I could write a whole new blog post on this one. I’m where you’re at. I’ve come a long way, but conditioning your mindset is a daily practice. Some days are great and some days are worse then others. I think a “self date night” will really help you. Taking the time out of your busy schedule to treat yourself and make it all about you. Go to a coffeeshop and read a book, take a bubble bath, draw or paint– do something JUST FOR YOU. Time away from others will create a space just for you to recenter yourself, this is a good way to practice self-love.

  • Some people aren’t as lucky as you. I’m so happy that you love every facet of yourself and seem to have a really good grasp on a positive mindset:) Thanks for your comment. xx! Mika

  • Anonymous

    Great article, Mika. I too struggle with “the chubs;” my guy loves them, I pinch at them self-loathingly. Thanks for providing a different perspective, a more loving lens through which we can view ourselves. 🙂

  • Jshankar40

    Excellent…Knowing we have the choice and power is the path of understanding and awareness…

  • Ldgann05

    Love this post! You couldn’t be more right!

  • That’s true! That’s why for 2012 I will focus on “Be Me” as my theme
    just to be happy with who I am
    and not apologetic with who I am, how I think

  • Shoua

    Beautiful post from a beautiful soul. Thank you, your post touched me.

  • John

    This website is beautiful and heart-touching my soul and my heart 🙂

  • Sophia

    The only thing I can’t physically accept about myself is my skin. I love my body but I hate hate HATE my skin. I hate the color of my skin and I hate how sensitive it is. When I was a kid I used to be so dark. I used to have natural mocha colored skin, even during the winter, and I live in an area where the winter lasts for 8 to 9 months a year. And it’s brutal. Also, I’m Greek, so for being as dark as I was, was rare. My skin complexion was also very beautiful. It was so pure and clean. Then at the age of 16 I hit puberty (I’m very athletic, that’s why I was a late bloomer) and I started having horrible acne. Then I started taking acne pills…which did absolutely nothing but cause my skin to become paler and burn easier under the sun. I never EVER burned before these medications. I’m 23 now and I STILL have acne but it’s barely weaned off. I learned that gluten makes me breakout more. Also my skin is now less sensitive under the sun…but I want my old beautiful skin back! I want my tan mocha skin tone, I want my clear complexion back! I just can’t accept my ghostly pale skin tone so I spend so much money on self tanners. I’m addicted to being tan. I don’t like having pale skin. It looks disgusting on me. How do I love my skin?

  • Mika

    Aww Sophia. It’s totally okay to want what you want but I suggest practicing a little more self-compassion for yourself. If there is little you can do about it now, might as well as take a deep breath, embrace your current situation (work on self love/self-acceptance) so you’re not adding more self-inflicted emotional turmoil on yourself which is going to motivate that self-loathing negative talk (which frankly doesn’t help you). big hugs. learn to love or accept your skin by loving the person underneath it first;) <3 Mika