A warm hello to you, wherever you find yourself today. May you find joy, honesty and calm in whatever comes next. If your year has been anything like mine, you’re ready for the next month to be flooded with just that.
As a blogger I have the opportunity to learn from some extraordinary people and share their wisdom with others. I was recently given the chance to participate in a training program designed to empower people in the area of body image. Though I’ve spent years of my life working on this area and have made significant progress in changing my mindset and perspective, this resource has helped me move my mindset into an even healthier place. I’m excited to continue learning to love my body, and encouraging others to do the same.
This week I heard from a speaker who shared a unique and powerful perspective about the things we perceive as flaws about ourselves.
“Our flaws make us unique; our imperfections are our character.”
The things that we wish we could change about our bodies or our mindset are the things that make us unique as people. While “character flaws”, maladaptive behaviors and frustrating traits may be areas in which we are striving to improve, they speak to our nature, making them illustrations of our souls. The lumps and bulges and divots on our bodies may feel like the areas we want nothing more than to hide, cover and change, they have a story to tell. The things we dislike about the way we look are the things that set us apart, and with a change in perspective may become the things we are most proud of.
I see you rolling your eyes. You’re imagining being proud of your double chin. Those acne scars you’ve spent years covering up glare at you from the mirror and you can’t imagine having anything but hate for them. Your propensity for mac and cheese is currently the least desirable thing about you and you can’t imagine that changing.
Here’s a little challenge for you. I’m doing it too, so I can keep testing this theory, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this. The person who shared this message with me intended it to be about your body, but the same is true for other parts of your identity, so don’t limit yourself. Take a few minutes to think of the things you don’t really like about yourself, and how those flaws and imperfections benefit you. Think of a positive message that they may share. Remember how you got that scar, why your skin is wrinkled, the babies who gave you stretch marks, or the father who gave you his obnoxious laugh. Attempt to see the things you dislike as unique little markers from your rich and wonderful life, and see if you don’t start to feel a little different about them. Maybe you have already done this, or do it on a regular basis. That’s fabulous! There are some parts of my body that I had accepted and learned to appreciate in the past but doing this exercise every month or so helps me to stay honest about myself and really appreciate all that I am.
Here are a few I’ve been working on, for inspiration.
My legs are strong, they’re solid, they anchor me. They bring me stability and I share that with those around me.
As I’ve talked about here before, my thighs are not small. The phrase “thunder thighs” was my leg identifier before I was in high school. It didn’t ever really bother me, but it ingrained in my mind that there was something wrong with my legs, they were less than desirable, less than perfect. With some thought and rephrasing I have learned to appreciate and maybe even love these tree trunks.
The gradually forming wrinkles around my mouth.
I love to laugh, more than most anything. I am not ashamed of my smile. I bring joy to those around me. I spent more time laughing and smiling and singing than being silent.
For years I watched my face form lines. Specifically those lines that go from the corners of your mouth to your nose. I was afraid of them, hoping that if I just stretched enough they would go away, wondering if maybe I could lose enough weight for them to disappear. But I’ve realized that wrinkles on your face are some of the most noticeable ways to tell who in the room has the most experience, who’s been out in the world, who has laughed the most. From then it was a little easier to see the lines forming, and now my goal isn’t to see if I can keep them away, it’s to make dang sure that I have more lines and creases from laughing than from frowning.
My need for control when I’m travelling.
I have the ability to make any place feel like home. Give me a vague plan, some carrot sticks and a chance to work out and I can be happy anywhere. I am a capable, independent person and can take myself all over the world. I am an organized and plan oriented person, especially when on the road.
I learned pretty early in my life as a traveler that I had the capacity to be the happiest I could ever be while traveling or completely miserable, and the power was in my hands. I got pretty annoyed with myself the first time I was frustrated, grumpy and wishing to go home while abroad, and started to beat myself up about the situation. As traveling ranks on my life list just below laughing, I was angry that I was somehow deficient at it now, and determined to figure out why. With some meditation on the situation, conversations with my ever understanding husband, and some perspective changing monologue, I was able to change what I perceived to be a huge flaw in my basic makeup to a manageable and dare I say positive trait.
A sweet tooth that’s really more like a sweet upper plate.
I enjoy all the sweetness life has to offer. I can have new and rich experiences with very little money. I learn about people and the world through the things they have for dessert.
At times nothing frustrates me more than the fact that I could eat a handful of Twizzlers without noticing. Half of my favorite places to shop are candy stores.Being as healthy, svelte and trim as I would like is really hard when more of me wants to eat chocolate covered cherries than wants to be healthy. But you know what? The way I appreciate candy makes me special. The fact that I can name every pastry in the case faster than the kid selling them to me is something unique. I have enjoyed morsels of sweet goodness and had laugh out loud joy thanks to my penchant for treats. I have baking skills and an entire world of things to learn thanks to my interest in dessert. In moderation this sweet tooth of mine is a very beautiful thing.
I send this out with hope that like me, you may find this perspective on yourself refreshing, welcome and helpful. May you learn just how special and brilliant you are; because of your “flaws”, not in spite of them.