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Looking beyond our flaws with compassion

Recently a video was posted of my friend and I online. There was nothing harmful about this video. It’s a lighthearted, fun, comedic Q&A filmed by a social media channel as we were heading into an event. The worst part about it - the moment I saw the video, publicly available for all to see, it filled me with every negative thought of myself you could possibly imagine. It was like my flaws were being paraded around under a spotlight. Why is my hair like that, why does my face look like that, why do I even SOUND like that. Now I consider myself to be a confident person, but a troll commenting ‘that blonde girl is annoying’, hit hard. For a split second, I agreed with him.

Social media is well and truly beyond the days where it’s just for you and your friends to connect, post memories, and essentially just be together, online. The negative side of social media is well publicised. For the best part, we know to treat it with caution. We know the perfection often posted isn’t always reality, and finally we’re seeing influencers in their hundreds getting behind this movement to show their ‘real’ selves. But regardless, when a friend posts a photo you don’t like or don’t feel confident in, or a huge social media channel posts a video of you that every ounce of you wants deleted, it can be a huge dent to our confidence. We’re only human after all, and humans have feelings.

So next time you’re looking in the mirror or staring at a photo of you wondering where the ‘good’ genes went, here are a few steps to look beyond your flaws with compassion.

Remember nobody is perfect
Quite literally, nobody is perfect. We’re human, we have flaws. But that’s what makes us unique, interesting, and individual. If everybody on planet earth was the same, how boring would that be?! It takes time, but learn to look at your flaws with compassion and confidence. Learn to love your flaws. Speak to a friend, or remember back to the last compliment you received. Chances are your friends, or even strangers in the street, have a widly more positive view of you than the (most likely) small areas the monkey side of your brain is zoning in on (if you haven’t read Steve Peters’ The Chimp Paradox then head to Amazon immediately).

Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude over time can have a huge impact on how you view yourself and the world. Every day, think about three things you’re grateful for on that day, and three things you’re excited for the following day. It can be as simple as the food you ate for breakfast, the fact you made your bed, or a Whatsapp conversation you had with a friend. Write it down if it helps, but even the process of thinking in an appreciative and gratitude way can do wonders for your cognitive outlook.

Distract yourself
There are two types of worries - a hypothetical worry and a current problem. If you find yourself in downward thinking spirals or fixated on a worry, write it down. Map out whether it's a hypothetical worry or a current problem. If it’s a current problem, put a plan in place to try and solve it. If it’s a hypothetical worry, distract yourself. Go for a walk, watch a movie, read a book, go for a workout… The world is your oyster. You’ll notice that through distraction, hypothetical worries drift away.

Look for factual evidence to prove or disprove the worry
Imagine you’re in court and you’re being accused of whatever it is you’re worrying about. ‘She’s annoying when she’s drunk’, ‘her hair is awful’, ‘she’s bad at her job’... now when you’re in court everything is based on factual evidence. What factual evidence do you have that either proves or disproves the worry? A friend text you saying how much fun they had the night before, a compliment you received a few months ago, or positive feedback you received from your boss. Chances are, you have very little hard evidence to prove the worry right.


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