Here’s to the Real You

By Alice Inoue Posted in: Go Ask AliceImprove

If seeing your reflection has you cringing these days, don’t take your mirrors down. Instead, do some “inner feng shui” work that leads to a celebration of your inner beauty

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: I read your article on mirrors, and I got inspired to put mirrors in my home to expand the space and bring in good energy. I love the effect. The problem is that I am overweight and unattractive, and I now find myself cringing internally when I see a glimpse of myself. What do you suggest I do?

The way I see it, only two options are available. One is to take down the mirrors, energetically reduce the spacious feel of your home and let the negative thoughts about your body and appearance rule your life. Or do some “inner feng shui” work, using this as an opportunity to move to a new awareness about your body.

Of course, I suggest that you choose the second option. Keep the mirrors up, gain a new perspective and feel good when you see your reflection.

Who sees themselves as beautiful?

Your question reminded me of a Dove commercial that came out a few months ago. It was geared toward women, garnering more than 100 million views.

The commercial is a short film where an FBI-trained sketch artist draws portraits of women first based on their own self-perception and then based on the perception of a stranger. The strangers’ descriptions were regularly more positive, depicting how the subjects actually looked. The point is that women tend to be overcritical about their appearance, failing to see their true beauty. The ad sends the message to women viewers that we are more beautiful than we think and that the ideal the media bombards us with is not necessarily what others use to measure our beauty. Nevertheless, according to a recent survey, only 4 percent of women think they are beautiful.

Accepting ourselves as beautiful is hard

Many of us, even men, have a hard time feeling good when we stray from the physical ideal we have in our minds, but women especially have a hard time accepting themselves and seeing their true beauty, obsessing about how they look. When I look back on photos of myself from 10 or 20 years ago, I now see that I looked fine, but I distinctly remember not feeling good about myself at the time, seeing so many things about me as extremely unattractive. In retrospect, the way I thought I looked was at odds with the way I actually looked. My perspective was warped.

Judgment of self

We are so critical of ourselves because we believe that beauty gives us the right to be loved and accepted. In reality, our appearance has nothing to do with our worthiness, yet we learn otherwise from the media, our friends and family.

It’s all in the mind

Our perception of beauty and how it relates to us physically is skewed by unrealistic images in the media. We buy into the perfect look, whatever that is, and measure our self-worth from that vantage point. We examine every perceived flaw, every deviation from the perfect specimen — too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too hairy, not hairy enough and so on — until we no longer see our true beauty. This negates the qualities that really count like kindness, humor, generosity, compassion, loyalty and integrity, qualities that transform our outer appearance, which is why others may see us differently from the so-called perfect media image. Physical perfection is an unreasonable goal, and measuring beauty on such a superficial scale will always yield low self-worth.

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Inner feng shui

It’s time to start changing your perceptions, or thoughts, of self so that you can keep those mirrors up. Train your mind to perceive beauty differently from the way you have always perceived it. The truth is there, but you have to bring it from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind so that it becomes part of your reality.

By doing the following exercise, you will create new, neural pathways to help balance your perception so that you can see the bigger picture, gaining a new perspective. Answer the following questions daily:

• Who praises you and shows you love, befriends you, and cares about you, even though you do not look the way you want to?

• Who do you love, admire and respect, even though that person does not fit the classic mold for beauty?

• Do you know someone who is physically beautiful, yet you would in no way switch places with that individual, because of the things you see in his or her personality that are a “turn off?”

Train your mind to look beyond the superficial to the substantive! It’s hard to do at first, because your mind will not want to go there, but trust that things can change.

Move toward the truth of who you are

The “inner feng shui” exercises will help you create a belief system centered on who you truly are. We all have perceived flaws, but we can view them through the eyes of self-love, embracing our own uniqueness.

Alice Inoue is a life guide at Alice Inoue Life Guidance LLC, a company committed to assisting people in living empowered lives. Alice shares her wisdom as a professional speaker and personal consultant, and offers a series of instructional DVDs on feng shui, as well as her award-winning books on feng shui, happiness and spiritual life wisdom. Visit www.aliceinspired.com to read her blog, sign up for her newsletters and download useful feng shui tips.