The world today constantly seems to be in a competition. It feels like society is constantly telling us who's the best looking, the smartest, the most hard working, the most successful, the most popular. Beauty has become something defined by others and overworking has been glorified and is considered a sign of success and hard work. Instagram followers have become a criteria of determining a person's worth.
But have you ever stopped and thought about who, exactly, created all these standards? It's us. It's all of us. We constantly compare ourselves to others and feel anxious and sad when we don't live up to our own superficial expectations. And that's the reason why so many people struggle to feel comfortable in their own skins.
To be comfortable in your own skin means to be fine with yourself just the way you are. It means accepting how you look, how much you weigh and your current position in life. It doesn't mean you stop working on yourself and stop trying to reach your goals. You can still try to lose weight if you want or to quit your job and start a business venture if that's your dream, but all of this can be done while accepting yourself and not comparing yourself to others.
Of course it's easier said than done, and learning to be comfortable with yourself is a whole process that requires a lot of work. This can be difficult, especially with the constant overload of social media content showing people looking impeccable and living perfect lives. To achieve self-acceptance, you must get to know yourself and who you really are, so that you can see that you're unique and you are your own person - what other people are doing or portraying on social media has nothing to do with you and you can detach yourself from it.
Here are a few things you can do to embark on your journey of self-acceptance.
1. Take care of yourself physically
It's easy to let your health take a backseat, but you're not doing yourself any favors by not eating right and not sleeping enough. It's important to celebrate what your body can do by staying active, drinking enough water and giving it the rest it deserves. Take out time everyday to do things that make you feel good and healthy. Go for a run if it clears your mind, hit the weights racks at the gym if it makes you feel stronger, practice yoga if it calms you. Make your physical health a priority.
2. Notice what's going on internally
Amanda White, LPC, a therapist, blogger and yoga teacher, suggests sitting still for 5 minutes and noticing your thought process and internal landscape. While doing this, don't react or counter anything you're noticing, and don't try to numb or escape it. If this is too painful for you, try different activities while you're assessing your internal state - go for a walk or a long drive, or practice yoga.
If you notice negative or uncomfortable thoughts that you don't like, ask yourself why you're thinking these thoughts and try to get to the core issue in order to be able to solve it. Even if your life is great, you can still feel like something is missing, and it's important to figure out what it is. Observing and accepting your own thoughts and feelings without berating and judging yourself is essential in your journey of self-acceptance.
3. Do things that make you happy
Doing things that put your mind at ease are important for inner peace. If you like watching funny movies or reading old novels, make it a point to do these at least twice a week. Even if your hobbies are eccentric and do not fit into the usual norms of society, do them anyway because your happiness is what matters, not other people's approval.
4. Distance yourself from toxic people
Removing as much negativity from your life as possible is essential to finding inner peace and happiness, and the first step to doing that is kicking toxic people out of your life. If it's not possible to completely cut them off - sometimes the most toxic people in our lives are our own parents and siblings - then at least distance yourself from them and keep as little contact with them as possible. Toxic people will drain your energy and try to bring you down. It's your job to not let them do that. Remove them from your life altogether if possible, or detach yourself from them. This can often create feelings of guilt and self-doubt, but always remind yourself that your mental health comes first.
5. Learn to be alone with yourself and your thoughts
In a world where new content is constantly bombarding our phones and communication is just a finger tap away, it can be difficult to get a moment's peace. But it's important to make time just to be alone with yourself, without chatting to someone, scrolling through Instagram or watching videos on YouTube. Being alone isn't something that comes naturally to most people, but it's something you should work on. You'll know you've mastered the art of being alone when you can spend a night or a weekend by yourself without going into an existential crisis.
As Mary Dunlop from Tiny Bhudda says, 'In order to be comfortable with yourself, you first need to be comfortable just being.'
And that's the state we should all be working towards.