How to stop obsessing about your appearance

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    Many of us have one thing about our body which we are particularly aware of. If left unchecked, it can drive us to an unhealthy obsession, a negative body image and even unhealthy spending, to correct that supposed flaw. By becoming aware that you are obsessing about your appearance, and determining strategies to keep your obsessions in check, you can better enjoy life.

    Here is how I dealt with this issue:

    In my twenties, I realized the attention I paid to my hair wasn’t healthy. I wanted long straight hair that never got frizzy.  What I had was inconsistently curly hair that responded with dramatic frizz to humidity and had a triangular- flat on top and increasingly wide as it tumbled down- shape.

    Disappointed by my hair, I cycled between two behaviors.  I spent an hour daily straightening my hair (and then feeling frustrated when the humidity ruined my hard work) and I bought the latest products for curly hair in hopes they would reform my curls.

    Then, one morning, as my arms cramped from my straightening routine, a number flashed in my mind.  300.  If I did this 300 days a year, I was spending 300 hours or 12 days of my year on my hair.  The number jarred me.  Then, I opened the drawer where I kept my hair products. I had over $100 worth of hair product in there.  Obsessing over my hair wasn’t adding to my life.  It was limiting me in multiple ways.

    how to stop obsessing about your appearance

    Do you have an unhealthy obsession?   

    Is there an aspect of your appearance that receives more of your time, attention, or resources than you are comfortable with?  How much time do you spend tending to or thinking about that issue?  Are you comfortable with that?

    Now, consider your spending.  Are you comfortable with how much you spend to camouflage or alter that feature?  What if you put that much time or money into ‘dealing’ with that feature in the years to come?  Is that trade worth it to you?

    Read related: You are beautiful just the way you are

    How to put your obsession in check   

    What was I not doing while I gazed in the mirror and and tried to tame my hair?  After discovering how my obsession affected my time and money, I made some changes.

    First, I limited the time I spent on my hair.  I gave myself 90 minutes a week for hair. If I wanted to straighten my hair once a week, great, but that used up much of my time and I would leave my hair natural the rest of the week.  I still don’t have the curls of my dreams but I also care less now because I know my time is being spent out in the world and not in the mirror lamenting my hair.

    I also decided to spend less on hair products.  First and foremost, I had to use the hair products I already owned before I could buy any product.  Now, I buy what I need and finish it, even if I am not completely satisfied.

    By becoming disciplined about my obsessions, I’ve lessened them, improved my comfort with and confidence in my hair, and, thus, positively impacted my sense of self and body image. 

    What’s your obsession?  What rules can you adopt to keep your obsession in check and prevent it from holding you back from being an active participant in the world around you?

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