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“The moment will arrive when you are comfortable with who you are, and what you are– bald or old or fat or poor, successful or struggling- when you don’t feel the need to apologize for anything or to deny anything. To be comfortable in your own skin is the beginning of strength.”
― Charles B. Handy
The ironies of life never cease to amaze me. As a child I grew up believing that the relationships I had with other people would determine my happiness in life (so many number of friends, the right boyfriend, etc), but what I’ve discovered is that the relationship I have with myself is at the core of how content I will be as I move through life.
An enlightening discovery indeed as I then realized that I held the keys to my own happiness.
The French phrase “bien dans sa peau”, literally translating to “well in one’s skin”, is a phrase that is simple in theory, but difficult to achieve. Why? Why is it so terribly difficult to be comfortable with something we’ve been traveling around in all of our lives?
The good news, we didn’t always feel uncomfortable in our own skin. No, as children, toddlers, prior to adolescence, before the world presented its ideals of what we should or shouldn’t be, what we should or shouldn’t look like and who we should or shouldn’t spend time with, we were actually quite at ease in our own skin. An ingenuous child is a child that is free from outside pressures and expectations and uninhibitedly speaks the truth and adheres to their own authentic callings, curiosities and talents. An ingenuous child is the one time for certain that ignorance of the world can be a beautiful thing.
However, now that we are adults and we understand the world and its realities, we can either accept and become what the world wants us to be, or we can understand the world, and then go about creating our own. No, I don’t mean to get all science-fiction on you. What I mean is that by understanding the world, and more importantly, understanding ourselves, we can return to our authentic selves and thrive no matter where we live on this vast world.
After all, we become our best selves, our most assured and thus successful selves, when we become comfortable in our own skin. Here are a few ways to being “bien dans sa peau”.
1. Treat your body with respect. Once you understand what your body needs to perform its best, feed it, exercise it and care for it, so it can do what it was made to do for you as you go about living your life.
2. Understand what makes you come alive – respect it, protect it. It’s easier to say no when you are clear about what you love and wish to protect. Finding that inner strength to place boundaries around the time you spend doing what you love becomes easier when what you are protecting is indeed something that you hold dear to your life’s purpose and true passion.
3. Step away from your childhood (home, friends, town) and explore the world. The only way to know who you are is to go some place where people don’t tell you what you are. While yes, it’s easier to let other people make decisions about where your life should go, it can also be devastatingly dangerous. Step away from the life that shaped you and cared for you. It doesn’t mean you can’t return or simply visit, but if you want to view an honest reflection of who you are, you have to find the strength to gain a broader perspective.
4. Hone your intuition. Take the time to listen to what your observations tell you. At first they may be wrong and from time to time, you may read someone incorrectly, but more often than not, if you take the time to assess what your intuition is telling you, you’ll eventually establish an invaluable tool.
5. Tactfully walk away from people who will never understand. Whether simply interacting with someone casually at a gathering and quickly finding yourself in a conversation that you know will get unnecessarily heated, or when it comes to friendships or romantic relationships in which there is an inability to see or understand who you truly are, tactfully walk away. There are other conversations, friendships and relationships waiting for the opportunity for you to become available, but you first have to extricate yourself from the ones that will never progress.
6. With each year, celebrate, don’t hate. Getting older is a gift too many people sadly will never have the opportunity to experience. Rather than dreading each passing year, revel in the wiser self you have become in the year just passed.
7. Find a career, a life, a passion, that you fall madly in love with
8. Become an insatiable sponge for knowledge
9. Stop trying to impress others. If you’re too busy trying to impress others, you’ll never find time enough to get to know how to tickle your own curiosities.
10. Create a life you love living
11. Learn the Art of Dressing your body and for your life
12. Never speak negatively about yourself to others
13. Maintain an air of mystery. There’s a reason mysteries are a popular genre in literature and television, humans are curious creatures. But once the mystery is solved, that’s when the story ends. Case in point, keep a certain air of mystery and you’ll always be one step ahead.
14. Become comfortable with silence. A woman who is comfortable with silence is a woman who knows when conversation is and isn’t necessary.
15. Become comfortable with your own company without using technology as a crutch
16. Speak with confidence. Not every scenario (meeting, conversation, gathering, etc) needs our feedback each time a question is asked or silence is rendered. But knowing when to speak and doing so with confidence and a steady tone of voice speaks volumes of the woman doing the speaking.
17. Give of your talents and time in such a way that is comfortable, and in so doing not to gain recognition or praise, but because you have something to contribute. Part of feeling comfortable in one’s own skin is knowing that you are contributing positively to the community around you. And while there are always volunteer opportunities popping up, when you choose to contribute in a way that allows you to give of your talents, the intrinsic fulfillment is priceless.
18. Accept imperfection. Revel in imperfection. The most beautiful, confident women are those who own their unique look, talents, age and lifestyle, and refuse to apologize. If anyone chooses to chide, bully or snicker, they’ve just place a mirror in front of their face exposing their own lack of self-confidence. Don’t poke the beehive and keep doing what you’re doing. It’s working.
19. Strive for excellence
20. Stop apologizing. Whether it’s habit or you say sorry even if you purposely did something, and don’t actually wish to apologize, get a handle on apologizing. While if indeed you wish to apologize, do so, but otherwise, stand in your decisions, your actions and move forward.
21. Recognize the harm of being your own worst critic and find a healthy balance. While pushing yourself to do your best is a noble and rewarding quality, berating yourself when even after doing your best, you don’t approve of the outcome can actually be detrimental. Become aware of the difference, and strike a balance. In doing so, you will not erode a healthy self-confidence, but will also remain driven toward excellence.
22. Realize that relationship status doesn’t determine one’s contentment, rather a content woman determines her own contentment.
23. Set goals to strive toward. Click here to find out how.
24. Create a life schedule that includes time for hard work and productivity as well as regularly pampering and self-rejuvenation
25. The knowledge that each day is an opportunity to grow and evolve
Becoming comfortable in our own skin is hard-earned, but upon achieving it, you will find yourself being able to not be swayed by others’ opinions and comments, but rather be objective and able to stop anything from being personal. And while there will be times when you may waver, so long as you are able to recognize these times of weakness, you are still someone who knows herself and knows how to get back on the path of self-assuredness.
Being comfortable in our own skin is liberating and a removal of a burden we don’t need to carry. Upon lifting said burden, so many other wonderful moments, opportunities and relationships can occur. And since they are built on a foundation of authenticity, they are far sounder and sturdier than anything you might have built on your former less authentic self’s decisions and behaviors.
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