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As someone who has loved fashion since I was a young girl, I can vividly remember wishing and hoping I would someday look half as beautiful as Cindy Crawford or Claudia Schiffer. If I had to tally up all of the hours I have spent and continue to spend on daily, weekly, and monthly beauty regimens, the number would be astronomical. Which leaves me to wonder, how much time have I spent tending to my inner beauty?
By no means am I suggesting that women should be spending less time on external beauty or eliminate the time spent on fine tuning our wardrobes and taking care of our skin, but I do believe we should match the time we spend on our outer beauty with the time we spend on cultivating and strengthening our inner beauty. If we dedicated ourselves to acquiring knowledge, strengthening our minds, mastering our thoughts, etc, and never relinquished in toning our inner beauty muscle, imagine the subtle, yet powerful changes that could be made!
The term inner beauty can easily be uttered, but I find that few people know what it entails. Yes the maxim, “it’s not what’s on the outside that counts but rather the inside” strikes a warm, fuzzy tone, but what the heck does it really mean? Does it mean that we allow ourselves to become physically haggard, so long as we are kind to those around us? Absolutely not! Does it mean we put others ahead of our own needs? Again, I disagree. Or does it prescribe an elevating of ourselves, our potential, and our unique gifts as we combine our inner and outer beauty? In a nutshell, yes.
Every Thursday, the Style Inspiration post is revealed, and I must say, I genuinely enjoy poking around the web for outfits that will inspire and instill confidence and help accentuate the beauty that already resides within. With that said, if the women wearing the clothes doesn’t have a healthy sense of inner beauty, it’s much more difficult for the clothes to work their magic. Why? Because we are much more than just the clothes we wear. The wardrobe we choose is simply a beautiful bow that reveals to the world how we feel about ourselves and gets us in the door or prompts it to be slammed in our face. Beyond that first impression, who we are as individuals, what self-confidence, thoughtfulness and intelligence we have, will carry us each the rest of the way.
In line with one of my resolutions this year, I placed the cultivating of strong inner beauty as one of my top priorities. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been contemplating exactly what such a trait might look like and this is what I’ve decided upon:
1. Self-Respect. Being respectful of others is most definitely an admirable quality, but more importantly, we must always respect ourselves. Once we genuinely respect who we are, the potential we can fulfill, and the dreams we dare to dream, we then gain strength to refuse to be treated disrespectfully by others who may wish to pigeon-hole, stereotype or discriminate against us.
2. Integrity. The first ingredient necessary to acquire integrity is to know what we value and what we deem as the maxims for living our daily lives. Once we are clear about what we wish to protect, encourage and cultivate, we may not always have the support that would make it a much easier journey but knowing which direction we want to go in is half the battle. Integrity involves standing up or speaking out when it isn’t the popular thing to do, but rather the right thing to do. It does not mean you attack people, it means you are clear about what you can and cannot tolerate, and you in your own way, stand up for your values. Having integrity means staying true to your word, being honest, telling the truth and treating others as you would prefer to be treated.
3. Compassion. Choose to live in such a way that you are considerate of others’ feelings and choose to help not to gain something in return, but to simply offer yourself, your time, and your resources when you can. Compassion also involves placing yourself in others’ shoes, doing your best to understand how they might be feeling. While compassion involves tough love, most importantly, it involves love.
4. Applied Wisdom. Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer. As a young boy, he would read any book he could get his hands on as his father didn’t support his insatiable love for the written word. Regardless of where we go to school, who are parents are or where we grow up, knowledge is available for us to grab if we choose to look. Inner beauty suggests an inner strength to do what may not be expected, but what we wish for ourselves. When we take knowledge and apply it to improve our lives and the world around us, our inner beauty shines.
5. Perpetual Curiosity. In order to continually gain wisdom, remain forever curious. Ask questions, listen to those with more wisdom, try new things, travel, read, simply be aware that the world if full of lessons to be learned and experiences to enjoy
6. Not a Push-Over or a Pleaser. While being compassionate and kind, it can be quite easy to become someone who is ready to agree to any demand in order to please those we live with or work with. Consciously decide not to be a pleaser or a push-over simply to avoid confrontation, but instead be strong enough to reveal who you are and what you can and cannot do. Set boundaries. Dig deep for your inner strength.
7. Flawed, Yet Not Frozen. Often the knowledge that we are not perfect stands in the way of treating ourselves with respect and requiring that others do the same. Someone may throw our past in our face and for a moment we believe we don’t deserve to dream beyond our current circumstances or have no right to expect something better for ourselves. However, please know, this is a form of brainwashing. Ironically, one we are inflicting upon ourselves. No one is perfect. Everyone has made mistakes, and we will continue to make mistakes. Accept the past, be determined to learn the lesson and then respect yourself and your one life to move forward with integrity and determination.
During this year of 2013, I am challenging myself (and feel free to join me) to exercise my inner beauty muscle as much as I exercise my love-for-all-things-stylish muscle. By focusing on these seven traits, based on how much time I peruse through fashion magazines, style blogs pinterest and websites, I know amazing results await. Are you with me?
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