Learning self-love by embracing your imperfections
You have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked.
Try approving of yourself and see what happens.
— Louise Hay
Looking back on my life, I came to realize that I spent quite a high amount of my precious time trying.
Trying to be perfect.
Trying to be appreciated and liked by everyone else around me.
Trying to fit in with different groups of people so that I could feel accepted and included.
Trying to get some sense of belonging.
In reality, I was using others as an instrument to get what I wasn’t giving myself: love, appreciation, self-care and self-respect.
I can recall my desperate efforts to ‘make myself beautiful,’ while I was hiding behind tons of makeup. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against being feminine, and I am still using makeup, but I don’t look like I am wearing a mask any longer.The Old Me used to put on lots of makeup as a daily practice. My face looked no different if I was attending a wedding or going to the gym. The idea of meeting someone that wasn’t close to me (family members or close friends), in all vulnerability, scared me to death.
But here’s what I didn’t know at the time and what I know to be true today: It wasn’t other people I was scared of; it was all about me.
I used to perceive myself as not good enough, often making myself small so others would feel big around me. Calling myself names (“Stupid me!”, “Me, again!”) and putting myself down, unable to acknowledge myself for my achievements and taking myself for granted. The only thing I wanted was to be perfect.
I know beauty is entirely subjective and shaped by our minds. We all perceive reality filtered through our own lenses.Things are as they are: not ugly or beautiful, not normal or abnormal. The same thing is valid for people. We don’t see others as they are; we see them as we are, and everyone is a reflection of ourselves.Carl Jung called it the “mirroring effect” — everything we either like or dislike in another is a reflection of Self. How could we even see it, otherwise?
My journey to self-love started with the transformational mirror work of Louise Hay.
The exercise she offers looks very simple: take a mirror, look into your eyes and say “I love you.”
Start feeling that loving energy in your body, going deep inside your heart. I know it doesn’t sound complicated; but if you haven’t had a harmonious relationship with yourself for years, it’s very hard.
“Loving myself? Wasn’t that supposed to be selfish? Isn’t that coming from my ego? What am I doing here — am I turning into a narcissist now?” This is how the voices in my head sounded at the time.
To me, the mirror work was a very uncomfortable exercise to do, but I decided to repeat it every single day. You see, new habits are learned by practice — and that’s exactly what happened. After a few weeks, watching myself in the mirror and saying “I love you” didn’t feel awkward any longer. Not at all. It was natural, warm and cozy.Embracing myself with love and compassion was one of the most beautiful gifts I have offered myself. It felt transformational from the inside out, like a rebirth. I stopped wearing that heavy makeup mask because I didn’t need it any longer. Today, I usually put on a very light makeup, and when I do grocery shopping or go for a walk, I don’t have any.
If this rings the bell for you, I am inviting you to experience another way of understanding beauty and perfection that is very different from the norms imposed by most cultures and societies: the ‘wabi-sabi’ beauty.
The ‘wabi-sabi’ beauty concept promoted by the Japanese culture is based on the principle that imperfections are beautiful.
Artifacts are exposed in museums exactly as they are, cracked or broken. And that’s what makes them so valuable: they’ve passed the test of time. The same thing is valid for people. It is our imperfections that make each of us authentic, special, and unique.
Perfection is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. A sign of fear, it is a source of unhappiness and frustration in many people’s lives. It might look like a strength but, in fact, it’s precisely the opposite. It is an enemy, not a friend. Perfection is the result of not feeling good enough and setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves. The same thing is behind the wish to look perfect. It is a sign of self-criticism, non-acceptance, and self-judgment. Same thing as declaring war to our bodies.
Beauty is a state of mind. We are what we believe. If I think I’m ugly or stupid, that becomes my reality.
If I believe I’m smart and beautiful, that is what my reality is. I am perfectly beautiful and beautifully imperfect, and this allows me to be ME.
Know you are worthy and beautiful, not because others think so, but because you choose to believe it. Decide you are gorgeous, and see what happens.
You may also enjoy reading Could You Love Your Body, Really? | Shifting Your Body identity, by Peggy Farah