Perfection is Imperfection: Reshaping the View of Self-Acceptance!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Although I was not able to compose my first blog post of 2023 until March, regardless of timing, I wanted to start of 2023 by addressing acceptance and love from a different view. And because I do not believe that there is one individual on this earth that is perfect, I figure I'd use this post to address the challenges of self-acceptance and embracing individual imperfections amid the current culture of significant reliance on social media.
BARRIERS TO POSITIVE SELF-IMAGE
Granted establishing and maintaining a positive self-image encompasses self-love, self-acceptance, and self-actualization, the barriers we’ll discuss essentially counter each of the identified. These barriers act as blockages to achieving a positive self-image, challenging one's perception of themselves, which in turn taints one's ability to establish and maintain healthy (or positive) self-love, self-acceptance, and self-actualization. So in an effort to support by providing an ability to identify these barriers, let's discuss them.
First, understanding that there are many barriers, I will only highlight three, with the greatest of these being social media, followed by bullying (all forms), and brand marketing. Each contributes to one's inclination to devalue their self-image by way of frequent comparison to others. Similarly, with respect to tactics of marketing, as the most common marketing objective is fundamentally to get you to buy, the motivation for “self-improvement” is the basis of generating buying power. It’s another perceptive for supply and demand, where the desire to feel “on trend”, “average”, or identify with widely accepted perceptions of “pretty” fuels a never-ending demand for the products and images we seek to achieve or obtain. Nothing that we are currently not in a place to singlehandedly combat capitalistic marketing practices, we need to be mindful and considerate of the psychological trauma encountered by insecurity and negative self-image. Therefore, it is important to be active in our willingness to learn how to establish a positive self-image so strong, that very little would be able to disable it. Our best effort of doing this, however, rests in motivation to reshape the way we receive and interpret information.
RESHAPING THE WAY, WE RECEIVE INFORMATION
The process of reshaping perspective is a complicated one as it’s essentially creating a new habit, which they say takes about 20 to 30 days to develop. Thus, when speaking in terms of an active effort of mindfulness (consciousness) is vital in reshaping the way we receive information, perceive what is desirable, and measure our individual value and self-worth.
At present conditioned perceptions contribute to concepts of what we view as desirable and undesirable in terms of physical traits and features, so it’s important to recognize that those perceptions are reinforced by what we see on social media and in marketing ads, through the models, we are told are a perfect size, the fitness junkies that make us feel that genetics do not have anything to do with predispositions for weight gain or plastic surgeons who promote maintaining “agelessness” like it’s not a natural part of life. Therefore, in order to disarm any barriers to a positive self-image, we must understand the role that each of these play in stripping body positivity. And that by fixating on what we do not have, we distract ourselves from embracing what we do. Furthermore, fixating on deficits creates an imbalance between value and self-worth because we’re more inclined to prefer being desirable to others over being confident within ourselves.
So how do we learn to remind ourselves that everything that we are told is not real and aspirations we are sold are not required goals for everyone?
As there is a negative impact on our psyche when we allow ourselves to be so vulnerable, essentially, we need to make more of an active effort of mindfulness to remember that your value is not in the things that are being sold or advertised. And that it’s ok to not want to be or look like anyone other than ourselves. Because subscribing to the culture of inadequacy makes us more prone to anxiety, depression, and lowered self-esteem to name a few. Therefore, it’s imperative that we learn to keep an active gauge on embracing individualism. And understanding that we set the tone for what we believe is desirable and that our body, mind, experience, and preferences don’t have to be set by the culture we know and observe.
EXTENDING GRACE & COMPASSION
I must acknowledge that I understand we reside in a world where we're encouraged to seek cultural trends and are inclined to assume that our ability to acquire said trends contributes to our self-worth, however, when we are active in our consciousness (mindfulness), we maintain an ability to recognize that just because we may not be able to operate within a trend, does not mean we are less than. It is that mindset that allows us to extend grace and compassion to ourselves and others when engaging in socially prompted bullying or experiencing increased insecurity when comparing ourselves to others. Because we recognized it's not a requirement, or representation of individual worth and value but more of an expectation of sales and marketing.
Therefore, throughout the process of reshaping, it’s important to acknowledge that there will more than likely not be changes to social media exposure, marketing consumption, or the perception of others, thus, we can expect to falter through this process and succumb to old ways. Again, because reshaping is essentially establishing a habit that can take up to 30 days to establish, any continued exposure to social media would naturally trigger the reactions, responses, and perceptions we’re trying to get away from. But, it is in these times that we extend ourselves grace and compassion, and remember that each of our experiences are unique.
And as the dynamics of learning vary, in addition to the uniqueness of our individual journey, we should be mindful that social media is crafted for the acceptance and gratification of others and is not structured to widely support individual differences and cultivate individuality, therefore, our perceptions, reactions, and responses should matter to us first and foremost. And again, we should be willing to grace and express compassion to anyone struggling with conformity.
SELF-ACCEPTANCE & CONFIDENCE IS KEY
What may not yet be realized is that being likable and acceptable to others happens naturally when we first love and accept ourselves. It is only then that we recognize we reserve the right and power to grant the choice for others to accept us as is. And if they choose not to accept us, we also recognize that we do not require acceptance from another to feel whole and loved, because we are not lacking in that respect. The key is to understand that when we love and accept ourselves first, we create a baseline for the love we believe we deserve and expect. Essentially, cultivating expectations and standards of behavior for those we encounter.
When there is a lack of self-love and acceptance, however, there is room for insecurity to creep in. Because it is when we leave the room or create an environment that invites negative self-talk, self-perception, and welcomed social assessment, that triggers responses driven by feelings and thoughts of inadequacy.
So please do be encouraged to establish, maintain and fight for individual confidence. As it is that confidence and courage that we exude, that is instinctively recognize by others, it not only drives our comfort with individuality but prompts others to be intrigued and attracted to us. Therefore, when we are ready to step outside of the shadow of cultural desirability (conformity), it is then we can move forward with accepting ourselves completely and confidently.
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