The Way You Feel about How You Look
by Kim Fulcher
=== Part 1
In an ideal world, the way we look would not impact the way we feel about ourselves, but since we don’t live in an ideal world; the truth is that most of us are impacted by our body image. This month, we’re going to take a look at the way you feel about your body. I’m going to invite you to broaden your definition of attractiveness, and I’m going to challenge you to start taking great care of yourself.
A New Definition of Appeal
The first step in learning to accept yourself and celebrate your unique attractiveness requires you to broaden your definition of appeal itself. Quite literally, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We’ve simply had our eyes trained for so long that many of us have stopped thinking for ourselves. (If you fall into this category, don’t you think it’s about time to start thinking for yourself?)
Think about a man or woman you have known or seen who doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotypical definition of attractiveness – yet you find him or her intriguing, enigmatic, and fascinating. Perhaps she has an incredible sense of style, or he has a bit of a swagger in his step. This person might be wonderfully put together, or simply have a warm and inviting smile. While this person may not fit the societal definition of appeal, he or she has found a way to embrace all aspects of who they are, and they are incredibly compelling as a result of doing so.
The French actually have a word for this kind of allure. When a person is appealing without meeting the stereotypical rules of attractiveness – they say he or she has joie de vivre. A person who has joie de vivre gets noticed when they walk into a room – no matter what their clothing size is. This person invests in their self-care, and is comfortable in their own skin. He or she not only gets that they aren’t physically perfect, their ability to celebrate these imperfections makes them positively magnetic.
Examples of American celebrities with joie de vivre include Barbara Streisand, Susan Sarandon, and Oprah Winfrey or Colin Ferth, Bruce Willis and Ed Harris. While America’s rules-of-attractiveness might not define any of these people as appealing, as you look at any of them, you cannot deny that each of them is striking.
It’s time for you to embrace a sense of joie de vivre and start walking around with a bit of swagger in your step. Are you willing to broaden your definition of beauty? Will you give yourself the gift of acknowledging and appreciating your unique potential for gorgeousness?
This week, I challenge you to make an inventory of the things you LIKE about the way you look. Select at least one thing you appreciate about your physical appearance, and celebrate it for the next seven days.
If you like your shoulders, wear a sleeveless shirt. If you think you have great feet – get a pedicure. If you appreciate your lips, use them to smile. The point is to invest a little energy in appreciating your physical strengths – instead of focusing on your weaknesses. Next week we’ll begin talking about addressing what you don’t like. This week, simply focus on what you DO.
=== Part 2
Last week I challenged you to broaden your definition of beauty. I asked you to find at least one thing you like about the way you look, and focus on that attribute every day. How do you feel? Has your confidence improved a bit? Have you smiled more frequently than you normally do? I hope so.
This week, I want to introduce you to a new framework to use when considering what you don’t like about the way you look. I call this concept Accept It or Own It.
All of us have physical features we are less-than-thrilled with. Perhaps you are unhappy with your weight, or you may think that you’re too short (or too tall). Every physical feature you are dissatisfied with falls into one of two categories.
Getting clear about what you don’t like, accepting those things you cannot change, and investing your energy in changing those things you can will dramatically impact your life.
It’s time for you to stop beating yourself up about your height, your nose, the color of your eyes, or your bone structure. Why give your energy to something you have no ability to impact?
Instead, identify at least one physical attribute you are unhappy with, and commit to change it! Maybe you don’t like your hairstyle. Thumb through magazines, find a style you love, and go take the plunge with a new cut. Don’t like your style? Think about the kind of style you’d like to have, and raid your closet to put new outfits together. Unhappy with your weight? Make a commitment to begin eating right and exercising.
While I get that all of these things are much easier said than done, I’m also clear that you’re already investing a great deal of energy in feeling unhappy about the way you look. Why not make a more constructive effort to put yourself on the path of happiness? It’s time to get into action.
Right now, pick the one thing you are going to change. Do not go through one more day without taking action to make an improvement. What will you do this week to reform in this area?
Please remember that when you stop directing your energy to lamenting over your flaws, and begin to focus instead on changing what you’re able to, you will experience a wave of self acceptance that will move you to quietly celebrate the abundance of your life – and your looks.
=== Part 3
This month we’ve been talking about your body-image. I’ve invited you to expand your definition of beauty, accept those things you cannot change, and make a commitment to change those things you can. This week, I want to talk with you about the number one obstacle that stops people from making real changes in their lives – time.
I cannot count how many times I’ve worked with a client who shared with me that they wanted to take care of themselves, yet couldn’t find the time. Each time I hear this statement, I agree with the person who is speaking.
Of course you can’t find the time. It’s not as if time itself is hiding from you, waiting to be discovered! No, that would make the task of finding time quite easy to accomplish. I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek here, but I hope you get my point. The fact of the matter is; you do have the time. You’ve simply committed it to other priorities.
Usually when I make this statement in a room full of people I hear a murmur of objection sweep through the audience. If you are experiencing a similar wave of indignation right now, preparing to mount an attack of excuses, let me save you the trouble.
I am in no way suggesting that your life is not complicated. I know you have countless responsibilities. I know you have more commitments to meet than you can sometimes stomach. I get it. I do too! I also know that you will be much more capable of addressing every requirement in your life when you feel good about the person staring back at you in the mirror. This only happens when you’ve made time to take care of yourself!
Here is the stark truth. You’ve got to stop managing your time, and start managing your priorities! You have to decide that taking care of yourself is one of your priorities, and then remove items that don’t rate priority status from your calendar.
I realize that this is easier said than done, but I have a truth for you. If you’re not willing to take this step, you might as well accept every one of the things you aren’t happy with, because you’re never going to change them.
It is possible to make the time required to take care of yourself. It all starts with you getting clear about what matters to you. If making this change matters to you, it needs to be scheduled into your calendar.
This week, I challenge you to get out your calendar, and make a few appointments with (and for) yourself! If you’ve decided to address your weight, make appointments to buy healthy food and hit the gym. If you’ve decided you want to change your hairstyle, pick up the phone and make an appointment for a new cut.
Get out that calendar, and pick up that phone. Follow through on your self-care and personal commitment right now.
=== Part 4
What a month! We’ve been talking about the way you look. I’ve asked you to work toward accepting the parts of your appearance you can’t change, and I’ve challenged you to change the things you can. As we close this month, I want to remind you that you are unique, and ask you to stop comparing yourself to others!
We’ve all done it. We see a beautiful person, and instead of appreciating their grace we begin to compare ourselves to them. Are we as thin as they are? Is our clothing as stylish? Do we have better features or a more inviting smile? Essentially, we are looking for proof that we measure up.
The more readily you can step into your unique appeal, while celebrating the attractiveness of the people around you, the stronger your sense of confidence and connection with others will become, and the more authentically beautiful you will feel.
You don’t have to be more attractive than the person sitting next to you to be appealing in your own right. You are compelling just as you are. You are enough. Stop running through a cycle of comparison.
The next time a gorgeous person walks into the room, give yourself permission to notice and acknowledge their beauty. Then, rather than compare yourself to them, take just a moment to note and celebrate your own.
In closing this month, let me remind you that you are gorgeous! I hope that after moving through our program this month you are able to accept that statement more readily. My wish for you is a lifetime of self-acceptance and self-care, and a healthy dose of joie de vivre!