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Learn to See Yourself Without Judgment

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Learn to See Yourself Without Judgment

How do you see yourself?

Do you ever really study your face? When you look in the mirror or see yourself in photograph, do you only see the flaws, blemishes, and wrinkles? Or do you see the beauty, too? I’ve been paying more attention to the thoughts that run through my head when I see myself in a photo or look in the mirror, and they haven’t been all that kind. Self-criticism runs rampant as I critique the wrinkles, the scars, the dark circles under my eyes, or whatever else stands out on any particular day. 

As an experiment in self compassion, self kindness, and self love, I decided to spend some focused time studying my face and exploring all my features. I took a selfie and I studied it. For the purpose of this exercise, I committed to cast aside all judgment about how I looked, and focused instead on just really seeing myself. Instead of wrinkles and blemishes, I let myself see the natural contours and lines of my face. I’ve always thought my eyes were my best facial feature, but I don’t really look at or appreciate them anymore because I’m too distracted by the flaws.

After looking at my face for awhile, I got a pencil and some paper and attempted a self portrait. On my first try, I mostly looked at the photo, not the paper much, as I followed the contours and lines of my head and face. On my second try, I looked at both the photo and my paper, trying to catch a more accurate representation of what I was seeing. On my third try, I made adjustments and added some additional detail.

I look at each of these drawings and again notice the self judgment that immediately surfaced: this is why I don’t draw! These are terrible! …. But then I realize, the fact that drawing doesn’t come naturally to me is not the point of this exercise. The point of the exercise is to spend time with myself, to really see myself, and to practice accepting myself just as I am. Everything I see is a part of me and is what makes me whole and unique … the wrinkles, the deep lines, the dark spots and scars…. but also the light and bright spots, the contours, and the feature I love best, my eyes.

Related: The Ongoing Mission of Accepting Myself

It’s so easy to judge and criticize our self, both for how we look on the outside and how we feel on the inside. What’s not as easy is to release the self-criticism and self-judgment in favor of self-kindness, self-compassion and self-love. We practice self-compassion when we remember that everyone has flaws and blemishes and no one is perfect. We practice self-kindness when we release self-criticism and self-judgment and learn to honor the way we are, right now. We practice self-appreciation when we look past the blemishes to see our natural beauty, delight in our favorite features, embrace our good qualities. Part of our journey toward true self love is to really see ourself, and to learn to accept ourself, exactly as we are without wishing something were different. ​

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