The concept of self-love and total body acceptance has become such ubiquitous topics that they seem almost trite and common. But do you really know how to really love yourself?
I know, from first-hand experience, that the road to self-love is a potential minefield for the unwary. Having suffered from body image issues in my teens and young adult years, I’m intimately familiar with the emotions and negative self-talk patterns that occur when we aren’t at peace with ourselves.
After many years of introspection and deep inner-work, I realized that attaining the “perfect look” can never replace the inner peace that comes with the genuine belief that we’re lovable and worthy no matter what others say. Yet the average girl and women today experience frequent bouts of self-doubt because she measures her self-worth based on the superficial standards created by society.
The Causes of Negative Self-Image
Over the past couple of decades, psychologists, mental health professionals, and empowerment experts have probed deeply into the critical subjects of poor body image. They looked into how our society’s fixation on physical beauty perpetuates painful psychological symptoms that cause self-sabotaging behaviors.
They have found that the biggest cause of negative self-image in women is the lack of proper guidance and direction from parents, teachers, and relatives. The absence or inability of parental figures to tune into the vulnerabilities of their children and steer them towards adopting a healthier self-concept increases the likelihood of unhealthy self-image.
Without good role models while growing up, a girl is exposed to the detrimental impact of negative social conditioning. Media outlets, such as TV shows, movies, advertisements, magazines, and social media, infiltrate her mind with unattainable standards for beauty.
Common Symptoms of Negative Self-Image
Women who undermine their value live with a fragile sense of self-esteem. They attach their self-worth to external validation.
There are numerous subtle as well as obvious dysfunctional coping mechanisms that women use to deal with that. The list includes:
- Lack of confidence in both personal and professional realm
- A tendency to attract and stay in an abusive relationship
- Developing addictions
- Spending too much time and money on beauty treatments and surgeries
- Inability to focus on their career aspirations,
- People-pleasing behavior
- A lack of good social and relationship skills.
The Solution: Redefining Feminine Beauty
I believe that we can tackle this pervasive phenomenon by igniting a beauty revolution. We need to address this issue on both an individual and collective level.
Dealing with it on an individual level involves making concerted efforts towards bringing about an internal shift within young girls and women. Educate them on how they can maintain a strong sense of self-worth and develop an identity that is independent of outward appearances.
The second is to change the paradigm of beauty. Take measures to moderate or alter the messages and images propagated by the media and other key influencers. They need to align with a healthier ideal of women’s beauty that draws the focus from physical attractiveness to her accomplishments and her character.
Take an inside-out approach
As women, we need to take an inside-out approach when it comes to overcoming negative self-image. I recommend a holistic approach towards overcoming these blocks. Work on all the relevant aspects of your being – your mind, heart, body, and spirit.
A few of the key points include:
- Adopting a positive mindset and belief system
- Healing any past emotional trauma or pain with a trained professional
- Loving your body by giving it the nourishment and care it needs to stay healthy
- Living your life with a sense of purpose and passion
In addition to overcoming these blocks to personal empowerment, we also need to adopt a constellation of traits, sensibilities, and lifestyle choices. They should lead to a life of balance, accomplishment, and lasting fulfillment which I call the True Beauty principles.
Some of these include:
- Not being defined by your body type and dress size
- Developing your intellect, talents, and your character
- Embracing your unique ethnic features
- Not being intimidated by the aging process
- Moving from a self-centered way of living towards one of compassion and altruism
We have reached an ideal time in history to add momentum in the looming beauty revolution. The old paradigm of forming opinions about women based solely on appearances is antiquated. We need to let them go.
As a civilization, we need to move towards more progressive ways of being and thinking. That way, we can empower girls and women to feel comfortable in their own skin and fulfill their highest potential. That’s how you can start learning how to really love yourself.
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Author: Seline Shenoy
Seline Shenoy is the Director of Relationship Intelligence at Say Allo. Seline, author of Beauty Redefined, is a blogger, podcaster and writer who is a regular contributor to a variety of publications including Forbes, MindBodyGreen, Elite Daily and Life Hack.