The one thing which continues to amaze me is, when I share stories about my skin journey, how many women I meet feel shame about their bodies – even when they look completely perfect to me!
How can this be?!
When I started to lose the pigment dramatically in my skin, I became good at covering and hiding my “flaws” to the outside world. For many years, even close friends weren’t aware of the secret I was keeping.
Given honesty and openness are important values to me, this made me feel like an imposter. So I was not only feeling low self esteem, but guilt as well – talk about a double whammy to one’s confidence!
When I started showing up as I am and sharing my story in my blog and on INSTAGRAM, the most amazing and unexpected thing happened.
Not only did I feel the guilt fade away because I was finally being authentic, but I suddenly felt more free than I’d ever felt in my life.
Why was I suddenly feeling so free when nothing much else had changed in my life?
Thanks to years of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and then training in Cognitive Behavioural Coaching myself, I was able to distill this learning experience into a simple catch phrase I still use to this day.
When I became really honest about what thought process was going on when I felt stressed and anxious about my skin, it went like this:
“When my skin is perfect again, THEN I can relax and be happy.”
The issue was, at the time, I couldn’t control what was happening to my skin (a decade of research later and I’ve not only stopped my skin condition progressing, but its healing). However, at the time, I was feeling more and more anxious as I watched my pigment disappear.
So here I was placing an expectation on myself that was not only unrealistic, but actually completely unachievable at the time!
I was totally setting myself up for failure.
So it will come as no surprise when I say in that situation I felt pretty rubbish and if I’m honest, was in fact depressed.
In took years of work in various areas of my life to restore my confidence, health and kick start my skin healing, but this very simple phrase has really been a saviour for me.
Whenever the familiar shame of not feeling perfect or good enough creeps up on me, I remind myself, “Which do I choose: to be perfect or be free?”
It’s a simple question, but it reminds me to let go of that need to be perfect which is instilled in us by society, yet leads to so much discontent and unhappiness.
I don’t need to look perfect to feel good – and neither do you. You and I and every human on this planet are worthy of pursuing our dreams, no matter how our skin shows up, no matter how thin or wide our beautiful behinds are, no matter how tall or flat our noses are, no matter how many love handles we adorn ourselves with and what shape and form our wonderful breasts take.
It’s not how our bodies look that matters most, but what we DO with our bodies that really counts.
So enjoy being free of the constraints of perfection and shame and have fun being YOU!