“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