The first time I (willingly) took my shirt off in public, I was nearly 20 years old. Life is far too short to worry about what people think or be ashamed of your own body, but it’s not easy to stop caring about people’s judgments and opinions; not easy, but completely possible.
When I was extremely overweight, I was terrified of what people thought of me.
The fear of people judging me kept me out of the gym and left me very embarrassed and ashamed of my body. I always thought that once I got skinny, I’d be more confident and care less about what people thought, or what I thought they thought of me. After losing 130 pounds, I got skinny and sadly, it didn’t bring me much more confidence at all.
Even after I filled out my frame and became an athlete I was still sorely lacking confidence and obsessed with what people thought of me. I slowly realized that gaining confidence and overcoming my self-conscious way of living wasn’t a physical issue, it had to be addressed mentally.
I learned that Self-acceptance and Self-improvement are two entirely different journeys.
Self-improvement, such as working out and eating healthy, won’t make you accept yourself. As long as you don’t accept every part of yourself, you leave room to feel shame and care about others opinions. Self-acceptance is the opposite of shame, and when you fully accept and love every part of yourself you will find yourself doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, without being limited by things as petty as a strangers thoughts.
A great way to start overcoming opinions and getting over what people think is to do an inventory of everything you’re ashamed of. Think hard about your biggest insecurities and fears, find all the moments in your past that make you cringe and one by one, begin the process of loving and accepting those aspects of yourself. You might not suddenly be able to love your greatest insecurity on the first try, but with repeated practice of facing your fears and confronting insecurities head-on, each of those issues will lessen their hold on you as you rise above them.
If you’re too scared of what people think to exercise, pursue a hobby, chase a dream or anything else, it is only in DOING that very thing you’re scared of that you can ever get over the negative opinions.
I thought I needed to improve my body and looks to get over what people thought, but really I needed to get over what people thought in order to improve my body.
This paradox repeats itself all over in life. You may think you need to gain confidence in order to do a certain thing, when really you need to do that certain thing in order to gain confidence.
You are ENOUGH, you are WORTHY and CAPABLE just the way you are, but it will always be up to you to accept that, or you can continue to debate it endlessly. Do what scares you until it doesn’t. It’s that simple my friends!