It can be hard to feel sexy or even just attractive or good enough in our modern culture. Airbrushed images bombard us daily, and we’re constantly encouraged to “improve” our appearance through plastic surgery, makeup tricks or changing our hairstyle. I want to be clear that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be attractive or feel sexy. The problem is that despite all the pressure on appearance most of us just don’t feel good about ourselves. Recent studies show that 74-96% of women don’t think they are attractive, that means only 6-26% (depending on which study you look at) of us are o.k. with how we look! The images we are shown through our media and culture encourage us to “fix” this problem by focusing on how we look; losing weight, getting plastic surgery, spending more time and money on our makeup, etc. Yet this approach rarely works. We may have a temporary sense of relief that we “fixed” an offending part of our body, but our mindset doesn’t change so the feelings of being unattractive and not good enough continue.
To fix this problem I suggest an internal make-over that starts with developing a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is a non-religious practice that has roots in Buddhism. In the last 20 years or so it has become very popular in the west with lots of research to show that it can help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and increase overall feelings of happiness, which means it can even help you get your sexy back and start feeling good about yourself and your body again.
Mindfulness is a practice of being in the present and learning how to bring our mind back to the present moment. Most of the time when we are feeling anxious, depressed or are struggling with our self-confidence we’re thinking about things that have happened in the past or worrying about things that could happen in the future. With mindfulness we learn how to notice our thoughts and see our thoughts for what they are-just thoughts. Often when we are anxious or feel something is not good enough about our body we start obsessing and fighting the thoughts in our head. This is a no-win battle; your anxiety will always win, you can’t out run it or out think it but with mindfulness you can outsmart it.
For example, maybe I worry that others will judge my nose as too large or perceive me as not being thin enough. These thoughts haven’t happened in physical reality, or maybe I’ve had experiences in the past where I did get this feedback. With mindfulness I can catch these thoughts and take a step back and notice that they are just thoughts rather than start going down the worry train of obsessive thinking and worrying.
Here’s a simple mindfulness exercise you can try today. When you find yourself obsessing about a part of your body or feeling not-good enough imagine that you are stepping back and just noticing these thoughts. You can even say to yourself “I’m noticing that I’m feeling like my stomach isn’t flat enough” or “I’m noticing that my mind is thinking….” This allows you to separate yourself from your thoughts rather than fighting the thoughts. When you notice these thoughts try not to get angry at yourself, just notice that your mind is thinking a thought and allow yourself to move on with your day. The more you focus on the negative thoughts the more energy you give them. By stepping back from your thoughts, you’ll be able to just notice your thoughts without letting them ruin your day or send you down a train of worry and anxiety. That’s the first step to feeling sexy in your own skin.