Monday, December 31, 2012

Not Everyone Is Beautiful: How to Accept Ugly

The meaning of beauty and the usage of beauty has been muddled with other desirable character traits.
Often, people are so used to calling each other "beautiful" that we feel entitled to being seen as beautiful, and that we are being treated wrongly or perceived wrongly when other can not see our own brand of personal beauty.

In writing this article, I would like to help you free yourself from the constraints of beauty and the prevalence it has taken over our modern culture. Freeing yourself from the illusory entitlement to beauty is a vital step.

Not Everyone Is Beautiful
Physical beauty can be measured. The ancient Greeks found phi, the golden ratio to beauty (which I highly recommend you read We have the BMI, the waist to hip ratio, the lines of symmetry, the angles of one's facial features, the condition of one's skin.

These features all provide us with information- from a biological standpoint, beauty is a highly coveted trait which means that the genes which cause it can be spread through proliferation. Those who possess beauty are given more chances to breed and spread their genetic material. This does not only happen in the human species, but in all living organisms. Beauty signals fertility, a more desirable gene pool, an opportunity to give predecessors the benefit of attracting many partners.

Beauty is also pleasing. Not all appearances are equally aesthetic. Some people have faces which you find actual pleasure from staring at, whereas others possess faces which you might describe as "nondescript" and unremarkable. Others have a face which you become fascinated with because their features are so different, so out of the norm, so odd looking. Depending on your geographic location, certain faces are exotic.

Yet, regardless of being appearing foreign or not, some people just have very unappealing faces. Some people just possess features which are not pleasant to look at- albeit being very interesting. In simple terms, some people are just ugly.

The point is that not everyone is beautiful, not everyone is remarkably attractive, and not everyone is a sight for sore eyes.

Empower Yourself: Embrace the Diversity
Beauty truly increases one's quality of life- but you do not need to wear beauty in order to benefit from beauty. You can surround yourself in a beautiful environment, and you will greatly benefit from it regardless of how much physical attractiveness you have to offer.

Beauty is also in the eye of the beholder- your face will never appeal equally to everybody. This is actually advantageous- from a biological standpoint, if everyone only found one "look" beautiful, then the genetic variation needed to increase survival would plummet. People are wired to be attracted to certain appearances- some of it has to do with their DNA and some of it has to do with their culture.

Embrace the diversity.

Don't Rate People, Including Yourself, for Emotional Boosts

People subconsciously rate others on many levels- it is a way of processing information about the environment and the people we will interact with. Again, we have genes that give us these instincts, and these instincts allowed our species to survive and evolve so far- to discount them would be to stop being human.

The danger of rating people's appearances lies in the conscious practice. People pick apart other people's appearances in hopes of raising their self esteem. This really has no benefit- nothing good or productive or educational comes from comparing the measurable physical attractiveness between different people.

People just look the way that they are- because of their genes and because of their lifestyle. You may find it useful to gain information about others based on deduction, but to constantly derive self worth from this process is destructive.

We all have days where we feel we look extra incredible, but that usually comes from a better self care regime and embracing that which enhances our appearance. These extra steps are choices, which others can pick up on and gain insight from, but ultimately, our looks don't change from day to day.

Our bone structure remains the same-we will always look like the same person, except we age. Unless we undergo cosmetic surgery or master the art of makeup, we can not change how we look. Your face is the only face you will get- and if you want to change it with surgery or makeup, that is your rightful decision- but before you decide to do so, know that there is nothing WRONG with not being gorgeous.

And if others hold your lack of beauty against you, know that you can not control how others behave, and that beauty is not the only quality which others can judge you by. Ignore them and do not let yourself be so affected.

Beautiful Is Not the Best Thing You Can Be
When has beauty, solely beauty, ever accomplished anything?
Although beauty definitely possesses its nurturing and pleasing qualities, beauty is not the best quality the possess and it certainly isn't the trait that leads to the most success.

Can you think of another trait which seems so tragic standing solely on its own?
The person blessed with intelligence, or determination, or compassion can offer the world more service and value than the person who only possesses beauty.

The Point
Beauty has and always will be a highly coveted trait. When one does not accept their level of beauty and is greedy for more, when one is too attached to their beauty- we call this an excess of vanity. Vanity can be extremely destructive. You have better things to do with your time and resources than invest them all in looking beautiful.

Accept the level of beauty you have- and take pride in the fact that your behaviors and your willingness to work on your other traits and to maintain a healthy regime of self care can surpass the initial level of physical attractiveness your genes endowed upon you. You can offer the world more and make yourself more desirable by accepting what you have and nurturing yourself and truly understanding your strengths and weakness and the value you are most equipped to offer the world.

Friday, December 28, 2012

How to Gain Self Respect: Personal Boundaries

Self respect is essential to true self love. In order to fully love and care for yourself, you must become aware of your boundaries and values and you must commit to them and thus commit to yourself. Self respect is about preserving your values and acting in a way that promotes self growth whilst fulfilling certain standards regarding how you want to be treated.

What are your values?
In order to define your personal boundaries, you must look within and gain insight through introspecting and honesty.
How do you think you deserve to be treated? How do you think you should treat yourself?
Do you let people walk all over you, or do you walk all over other people?
Do you not trust other people, do you act in an untrustworthy manner?
In order to understand how you would truly like to be treated, you must also consider how you treat others. There is no separation between the two when true self respect and self love is reached.

What you value, you must exercise. If you do not exercise your values, then you will be lowering your standards for yourself and for others. If you value patience, you must be patient with yourself and others. If you value understanding, you must practice empathy and good listening in order to allow more understanding to fill your life.

Avoid Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy is natural to human beings. We all practice hypocrisy- but we can also practice acting in ways that minimize any traces of it. 

Think about the behaviors and characteristics of others that really bothers you. Then, be really honest with yourself and recall any instances in which you behaved in similar manners. Consider the possibility that you also possess those  traits which you find very bothersome in other people.

Be very honest with yourself, and take the time to fully process these opinions and memories. You owe yourself the care and effort to gain a better, clearer understanding of your reactions.

As you practice awareness, let go of those grudges you hold- against others for behaving in such ways, and against yourself for realizing you also act in such a way. From now on, before you act in a way that in reminiscent of hypocrisy, think through the situation and stop yourself before you let yourself react in an instinctual, thoughtless manner.

Ask yourself, is this the best way to handle my experiences? Or is there a way that I can handle this situatin in a way that helps me exercise my values?

Practice is needed in order to cultivate this mindfulness, but the more you practice, the more you will be able to be mindful with ease and effortlessness. Mindfulness will gradually become second nature to you, and you will automatically ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

When you think through your responses instead of allowing yourself to react in a knee-jerk fashion, you take back control over the quality of your interactions and thus, the quality of your life, and thus, your self esteem.

The more mindful you are, the better you can fulfill actions and interactions that support your self esteem and the quality of your relationships and life experiences.

Setting Personal Boundaries
Hypocrisy can also be practiced in a way that allows others to disrespect your boundaries.
If you hold yourself to a certain standard when interacting with others, but allow others to cross your personal boundaries, you are also practicing hypocrisy.

You must allow yourself to defend your personal boundaries. You must allow yourself to only tolerate civil interactions. You must NOT tolerate others' behaviors that hurt you. You must also not allow yourself to practice self neglect.

To cultivate this strength, you must look within and try to understand why you allow others to treat you badly.
Did something in your childhood occur that caused you to believe you were unworthy of loving, caring interactions?
Were you taught by experience that you didn't deserve to be treated with respect?
Do you believe you are inferior, worthless, and undeserving?

In order to heal from self hatred, you must understand why you initially cultivated such beliefs, and how your behavior and others' behaviors have affirmed and reaffirmed those beliefs.

As long as you hold those beliefs, the world will only show you proof that it is true.
You must change your beliefs and truly know that you are worthy of love, care, and respect. 

In order to let go of these beliefs, you must see the good in yourself and practice patience and understanding. Hobbies are great for this- when you work on something and see your skills developing, you gain self esteem and confidence. Also try working on others skills-like social skills. Learning about rapport and good conversation will also boost your self esteem-as you become more skillfull with interacting, you will be able to practice responding to people instead of just reacting.

When you learn how to respond tactfully, you gain the power to reject behaviors that do not suit your values. 
Do not allow others to tell you that you don't deserve to be treated in such ways. Although you can not control exactly how others treat you, as long as they fall within your range of accepted behaviors, you can continue to interact with them.

Determing your range of accepted behaviors
Not everyone will treat you EXACTLY how you'd love to be treated, but the people you choose to continuously interact with will treat you in acceptable manners.

Be Discerning
You must be careful when drawing the line- sometimes others are having a bad day or a bad week, so it is best to practice patience and understanding. But if they fall way out of your range once, like engage in abusive and hateful behavior with you, you must not see them again until they are ready to act in a mature and caring manner.

You must break ties with these people, and if you do not,  they will continue to treat you badly. You must also not fall into the trap of promises.

If someone promises to change, and they have treated you badly, it is best for your safety and self esteem to not see them until they have changed. You are not their counselor or babysitter. If you have recently just begun to take charge of your personal boundaries, you are especially delicate.
Allow these people to seek counsel in others. If you feel you are ready and firm enough in your stance to help them, do so in a way that doesn't give them the accessibility to hurt you. But do not allow yourself to be swept up in trying to change them and help them. Do not allow them to take over your life. You must respect yourself enough to stop yourself from engaging in such behaviors.

Find Balance
Do not allow others to treat you badly, and do not allow yourself to treat others badly. Do not demand of others what you are not willing to give to them.
Find your self esteem through your ability to be virtuous towards others and towards yourself- not simply in others or yourself.
Self esteem is supported by both internal and external experiences.

To truly respect yourself and defend your personal boundaries, you must know that you are worth it and that others are also worth it. Surround yourself with positive people who love themselves and are supportive. Be honest with them so that they can understand your situation and help you. You deserve to be supported and helped, so long as you do not depend on others. 
The majority of this work is intended for you to process and progress on.
As you practice the mindfulness necessary to build self esteem and personal boundaries, you will cultivate control and responsbility over your life which will allow you to love yourself.