You know that voice inside your head that often scolds you? The one that berates you whenever your appearance falls short of something or makes you wince every time you happen to see someone who looks more glamorous than you? Well, whether your self-esteem is still going strong, fading, or has disappeared altogether, that beastly voice needs to be silenced – for good!
Of course, we all like to say we’re “not shallow” and don’t judge appearances, but in truth, most of us tend to be the most judgemental towards ourselves. If you can’t remember the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and didn’t find a single thing to complain about, then it’s high time you did. Arming yourself with a healthy dose of self-esteem is more important than ever, especially in today’s challenging environment.
In a world of peer pressure and mass media messages, self-criticism and an obsession with outward appearance are beasts that have been let loose. We live in a culture that makes people feel they aren’t good enough, pretty enough or rich enough, and unfortunately, most of the time appearance is valued over character.
Beauty is a word that can be given unlimited definition yet we are surrounded by a stream of monotonous messages telling us what beauty is supposedly about. Society has raised us to pay attention to those messages, which gives a deep hit to our self-esteem. We’re bombarded so much by images of perfect-looking people and fabulous lifestyles that when we look at our own selves, we’re faced with our inner critics and a line of questioning about why we’re not good enough. People are often confused about what it means to have self-esteem and keep thinking that others would like them better if they looked better. We tell ourselves that attractiveness can only be had if we wear this or eat that, buy this and not that.
Self-esteem simply means loving and appreciating yourself for who you are, flaws and all, and having confidence in your abilities and worth. Allah (SWT) made us all beautiful in our own way and we should accept it and not try to change ourselves just to fit in with everyone else. Allah (SWT) says:
“…He has given you shape and made your shapes good (looking) and has provided you with good things.”(Ghafir: 64)
We’re made by Allah (SWT) to look the way we do and we’re all given different blessings, so why do we fight the battle of self-perfection at the expense of our self-confidence? It is also mentioned in another verse:
“O man! What has deceived you about your Lord, the most generous? Who created you, proportioned you and balanced you?”(Al-Infitar:6-7)
Be thankful for what you have and respect yourself. Every time you look in the mirror, instead of listening to the beast inside your head, read the dua:
“Oh Allah, as You have made my appearance beautiful, make my character beautiful”
(Allahumma kama hassanta khalqi fa hassin khuluqi).
We need to learn to ‘see’ with the mind, heart, and soul and not just the eyes because beauty transcends what is apparent. Recognizing internal beauty is a great first step towards gaining a good self-image. Beauty isn’t only about weight or facial features or makeup, nor should it be based on factors such as the car you drive, the job you have, or the house you live in, it’s more about life’s magnificence reflected in your own character and attitude because real beauty stems from the inside. If not that, then what makes us beautiful? Is our beauty really only skin deep?
Building self-esteem includes making the effort to change by having the courage to look ourselves straight in the eye, appreciate what we see, and then move on from there. The worse you feel about yourself, the less energy and motivation you have to do what it takes to turn your self-esteem around. Feelings of inadequacy and damaging thoughts make your self-esteem plummet as your brain locks in on negative thinking, but self-esteem improves by changing both your notions and behaviors.
Originally posted on sistersmagazine.com