Although it’s healthy to be concerned with how we look and to take care of our bodies, it is much too easy to become obsessed about appearance. To find balance, one must stop looking in the mirror and look inward, says Victoria Moran, author of Lit from Within (Harper SanFrancisco, 2001). Consider Moran’s tips for cultivating inner beauty and stopping self-sabotage.

  • Broaden your concept of beauty. Go to an art museum and look at how beauty has been construed over the years. You’ll find paintings of women who were once considered exquisite but by today’s standards would be obese. By looking at art from other parts of the world, we see that beauty is more than the American supermodel stereotype.
  • Realize that if you could live long enough, your beauty would become the ideal. Moran was recently talking to a woman in her 90s who said that when she was young, she couldn’t go to the beach because people would laugh at how skinny she was.
  • Look at specific parts of yourself that you really like. Maybe it’s your hands, your jawline, or the shape of your calves. Start to appreciate that part and then grow into appreciating the whole.
  • Become a phenomenal human. If you can’t get beyond a big nose or bad skin, then work on your personality. Nobody ever looked at Mother Teresa when she was saving a life and said, “Oh, you are a little bit old and thin, aren’t you?”