Flaw Fixation

It’s been one hell of a year. Well, actually, it’s been hell of a decade. 

My road has been filled with all sorts of twists and turns, some very positive ones and some difficult ones. Nothing too out of the ordinary — don’t worry, I won’t flatter myself. I’ve learned a ton, and I’m excited to keep going. I’m very aware of the fact I don’t have a map to my destination because there really isn’t one destination — except for my inevitable death, let’s not forget… we are mortal (I’ll save this for my next blog post). I’ve surrendered to the idea that much of what happens to me is out of my control.

But… over the past decade, I’ve figured out that I do have some control. I get to make choices every day. I can control what I eat and how much I exercise. I can control what I wear and how I style my hair. I can somewhat control the visibility of my acne with a bit of makeup, and I can even control the whiteness of my teeth with activated charcoal powder. Empowering, right?

No, not really. This kind of power can become obsessive. Have you ever had a friend, family member, or partner who would complain about a broken nail, a piece of hair that “was out of place,” or maybe even a single pimple? You didn’t notice any of this, but there they were — standing in front of the mirror. Bitching about some little thing that was barely visible to the human eye. To them, that flaw might seem a lot bigger than others perceive. Why? Because the person who has the flaw has the “power” to cover it up somehow. We get a little high on “power” because, in many other areas of our lives, we are powerless. 

The reason why I’m writing this blog post is that I, too, am fixated on my flaws. Here are two examples:

Body Image

Where the f*ck should I start? Feeling insecure about your body is a double edge sword. There is no winning. This weekend I watched a movie called “To The Bone.” In a nutshell, the main character Ellen suffers from severe anorexia. She gets admitted to an in-patient treatment program. While I don’t want to spoil anything, one key takeaway is the amount of influence we have over each other in the way we think about diet and body image. I’ve come to the realization that I should NEVER comment on someone’s body image. Even if it is positive. Saying “you look amazing, I can tell you lost weight,” might seem like a compliment, but really, all I’m confirming is the idea that we should all be striving to be thin. I’d much rather say, “I love your outfit” or “you have a nice smile.” I came across a tweet a while back, and boy did it resonate. See below:

 I think the only way for us to teach each other how to love our bodies is to stop idealizing a particular body type. Seriously, people are dying over this shit. We should stop talking about our crazy diets and insane workouts. We shouldn’t eat a single cookie and whine to our friends about “how we overate,” especially when everyone in the room is eating cookies. All in all, we need to keep our mouths shut because you never know who might be struggling. I’ve decided I’m not going to share my personal body image insecurities, because doing so ultimately contributes to the contagious negative mentality. In other words, me pointing out my “flaws” only emphasizes that these physical attributes go against the “ideal” body image. Me listing my insecurities could lead to others also feeling insecure if they share these same features. Let’s all stop the fat talk. Capiche? 

Do I sound like a frog?

The other day, I presented at an all-company conference call for work. In order to prepare for the presentation, I thought it would be a good idea to run through the presentation a few times while I recorded myself. As I listened to the recordings, I found I was less concerned about what I was talking about, and more worried about the sound of my voice. Damn, do I always sound like that? My voice is hard to describe, maybe a bit croaky – like a frog? Haha. Right before it was my turn to present, I told myself that there is nothing you can do about your voice, so just deal with it. This sort of radical acceptance is helpful because it allowed me to surrender. There was simply nothing for me to fix. My croaky voice is something that makes me unique, and hey, I’ve had it my whole life, and it hasn’t stopped me from doing what I need to do. 

Controling our flaws doesn’t make us powerful. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s as if our need to control our flaws has power over us. To say I never notice anyone’s flaws would be a lie. Seriously, if someone had a zit the size of a quarter on their forehead, I think I would notice. That said, I’m also able to see the person behind the zit. So, I have to think to myself, people are probably able to see my flaws while also recognizing the positives. Therefore, while you may be looking in the mirror pointing out flaws XY&Z, there are people out there who see you as the entire alphabet. On the other hand, let’s be honest. This isn’t about other people’s perceptions. The real challenge is for you to see yourself as a person, and that is way more empowering than whitening your teeth.

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