What If You Loved The Way You Looked Each Day, No Matter What?

When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? When you see a picture of yourself, do you judge your face and body? Do you constantly find yourself picking apart every single characteristic and criticizing your “imperfections”?

If the answer is “Yes!” then today’s discussion is definitely for you! Today we’re going to be covering physical confidence and how we can apply it to our overall self-confidence to free ourselves of the insanity and learn to mentally relate to ourselves in a healthy way.

Now, when I ask clients about how they view themselves, I get a range of answers, from, “I love the way I look!” to, “I’m literally disgusted with myself.” Some of my clients will even admit to experiencing both emotions depending on their mood or the specific feature they’re viewing.

Strangely, these are the most common responses.

Almost NO ONE is comfortable saying that they feel confident and happy with their physical appearance on a regular basis.

I don’t know about anyone else, but it seems so strange to me that feeling negatively about ourselves is downright normal. Here’s what I think: we’ve become so accustomed to questioning our appearance and basing so much on outward physicality that we’ve bought into a mindset that forces us into self-doubt.

In a way, it’s almost as if it feels wrong to have physical confidence.

Think about it this way: hundreds of years ago, no one had mirrors. Sure, the wealthiest people had looking glasses and the like, but average people didn’t have big, full-body mirrors in which they could assess their appearances before toiling all day in the fields. They weren’t looking at themselves in the mirror dozens of times per day; they weren’t looking at photos of themselves on social media; they weren’t taking selfies and constantly being bombarded with the carefully curated selfies of others. This sort of life creates a totally different mindset!

In modern society, we see images of ourselves all the time. In addition, though, we have also collectively developed a sort of perfect image of how someone of our gender is supposed to look. These idealized images usually include ridiculously toned bodies with perfect skin and hair and almost super-hero-level body proportions . . . and the margin for error on this archetype is very small.

What’s the problem with this ideal? It’s impossible to live up to!

Even for movie stars who have every resource, including tons of specially dedicated gym time and personal trainers, it’s a ton of work. Furthermore, we’re not all meant to be built that way!

Sure, it’s smart to eat healthy, but some of us just naturally possess more body fat and slower metabolisms than others. Sure, it’s smart to exercise using both cardiovascular and weight resistance training, but some of us just naturally possess more muscle mass than others.

The secret to physical confidence isn’t losing twenty pounds or killing yourself to build six-pack abs—I know plenty of people who have accomplished similar goals yet remained critical of one feature or another.

In order to achieve physical confidence, we must rid ourselves of our attachment to this unrealistic—and sometimes unhealthy—physical ideal by shifting our patterns of thought and behavior.

We need to fight against the toxic messages of our culture that try desperately to convince us that the human organism in its natural form is bad or wrong or gross. And we need to stop perpetuating that mindset, judging others, and holding them accountable to it as well. We must stop the madness.

But how do we do that?

To begin with, we can refuse to buy into that way of thinking. When we begin to feel the negative thoughts creep up in our mind, we can remind ourselves that the human body takes many different forms and ages uniquely for each person. We can begin to think of ourselves as just one of the billions of human animals on the planet.

Can you imagine walking through a herd of zebra on the plains of Africa and judging each one based on its physical appearance? That one is too long; that one has funny ears; that one looks stupid. NO! It would be ridiculous!

So, why do we do it to ourselves?

Again, it’s just a reaction to unfortunate programming we’ve all been exposed to since birth. Recently, I’ve been working with a couple clients on changing this programming, and one very effective method to accomplish this is mirror meditation. All this involves is taking a moment to stand in front of the mirror after a shower or when changing your clothes and simply observe your appearance with no judgement and breathe. You’ll want to be naked for this exercise if possible, and you’ll probably want to start with one minute, eventually building up to three minutes. You’re not trying to make anything special happen with this exercise—it’s simply a meditation in which you attempt to focus your attention and clear your mind.

Through this exercise, we’re merely allowing ourselves to observe the picture (sort of like observing the zebras on the plain). We just notice what we notice and allow ourselves to breathe. In doing so, we can begin to see ourselves as an organism to be appreciated, rather than a body to be perfected.

Have you ever actually considered the many trillions of processes that are happening in your body every second just to keep you alive? Literally trillions of connections need to fire seamlessly just so that you can take a drink of water! It’s an actual miracle, and we take it for granted every day.

What if we could break free and truly begin to see ourselves as the miraculous organisms we are? This is what I hope for you, and through this shift in your mind, you can begin to make it happen.

Please share your experiences with mirror meditation in the comments below! How has it affected the way you see yourself? How has this work changed the way you view and treat others? I love to hear how these exercises help you grow on your path to confidence, so please subscribe so that we can all stay connected and learn from one another.

Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.

Dr. Aziz