How to embrace your flaws and be happy with who you are

Struggling to ignore your inner critic? Here’s why it’s difficult and what you can do to feel comfortable in your own skin.

Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated caused quite a stir when, for the first time in the history of its annual Swimsuit issue, it featured a model in a bikini proudly showing off her C-section scar.

It was refreshing and honest. Many of us become fixated on our imperfections when the reality is no one on the planet is perfect — shouldn’t we learn to embrace them instead?

Why we find it so hard to embrace our imperfections

If you’re going to own your imperfections, it’s important to know exactly why it’s so difficult to do.

Life coach Alex Kingsmill says that it’s human nature to see the negative because we’re negatively biased.

“The negative stuff stands out in our brains far more than the positive,” Alex, founder of Upstairs Coaching, says.

Twiss Psychology psychologist Amelia Twiss admits it’s pretty hard for many of us to celebrate our perceived imperfections.

“Low self-esteem and high self-criticism can certainly get in the way,” Amelia says.

There’s also the fact that we find ourselves bombarded with images of seemingly “perfect” people on a daily basis.

Whether it’s on social media, TV or film, it’s hard not to feel affected when we compare ourselves to those who seem to have no flaws.

Be mindful of your thoughts

Notice when you’re experiencing negative thoughts about yourself and acknowledge them, Alex advises.

“Notice when they tend to flare, notice what happens inside your body and your head — and try to hold off on judging yourself for judging yourself!” Alex says.

Next, try to be more conscious of the thoughts that you do want to have: Alex suggests choosing thoughts that fall within the latitude of acceptance.

“Instead of using a phrase like ‘I am the best’, go for something more moderate like ‘that is part of who I am, and I’m trying my best’,” Alex says.

“Developing an understanding of the way we view ourselves, or speak to ourselves, and learning how to influence that narrative is a really effective way to become more accepting of yourself,” Amelia adds.

Stop the comparisons

The next time you find yourself looking at someone and going through a mental checklist of the things they seemingly have but you don’t, catch yourself.

“While it’s very natural to compare ourselves to others, it’s more helpful not to do it — we don’t all start from the same starting line when it comes to our genes, our upbringing and opportunities in life, so it’s not an equal comparison from the get-go,” Amelia says.

Prioritise yourself

Yes, a healthy diet, regular exercise, prioritising sleep, having supportive relationships, reducing stress and not consuming cigarettes, drugs and alcohol really do make a significant difference in how we view ourselves.

“Start looking after your body and your attitude towards it, and cultivate a relationship with yourself for the long haul,” Amelia advises.

Look at the benefits

The more we look at ourselves with kind, more accepting eyes, the more we are able to be our authentic self.

“The things you see as imperfections are elements of who you are,” Alex says.

“If you’re trying to change yourself or hide away, you’ll never be able to live authentically — and that will diminish your capacity for deep relationships, true confidence and sustained wellbeing,” she explains.

Written by Tania Gomez.