How do you stop worrying about what others think? How do you worry about yourself first?
Worrying to Death
Dear Worrying to Death,
It’s difficult to find balance in a world so hypercritical and centered around perfection. I climbed into my car last night to drive home from work and when the radio cut on there was a dermatologist commercial. The tag line for this commercial was: We’re here to fix all the thing you don’t like about your skin. I sat there, stunned, thinking about all the little girls staring at themselves in the mirror wondering what society thinks of their acne, freckles, moles, birth marks, stretch marks, scars… That their imperfect skin somehow needs to be fixed.
I stare at billboards and magazines often times thinking how inundated we are with messages that we aren’t good enough. We’ll never be young enough, we’ll never embrace age with enough grace. Our skin sucks, our hair needs to be full, shiny and strong. Men won’t ask us out for a second date if our nails aren’t done (yes, I read that somewhere). We wear too much makeup yet it’s controversial if we don’t. Too much sex, too little sex. We eat too much or we’re told to eat a hamburger. Exercise more. Exercise less. Our clothes are too tight, too baggy, too conservative, too short.
No wonder you can’t stop worrying about what others think, baby.
The worry doesn’t cut off suddenly and everything is fine, but you can begin a journey of self-love and acceptance.
Start with acknowledging and accepting that you are not perfect nor will you ever be. You have beautiful faults and flaws that make you exactly who you are. The human condition is imperfect. However, we are surrounded by love not in spite of imperfection but because of it. Imperfections are a challenge to human compassion and you can confront the judgments of others with compassion and empathy.
You must have compassion for yourself first though and then you can have compassion for other people. One day, you’ll begin to realize that others’ judgements have nothing to do with you, but reflect their inability to tolerate imperfection within themselves.
Having compassion is just like the instructions we hear on airplanes just before takeoff. In the event of an emergency, you must put your mask on first and then you can help other people with their mask.
Put your mask on first. Take deep breaths. Feel your lungs fill with life and realize we’re all close to impact. You do what you can to save yourself and then you can act with compassion towards others.