6 min read

If you’re anything like how I used to be, most of what I share won't really cut it!  Because as things stand:

  • you want to look attractive;
  • you want other people to think you look attractive; and
  • the way you perceive your appearance is not aligned with either of those desires.

So, you feel upset, and may see the only solution as trying to change or 'improve' your appearance in some way…… a way which is probably time-consuming, difficult, and possibly very expensive and dangerous to your physical and mental health.

Are you open to change?

At this point, it’s important to ask yourself a key question: Are you open to a radically different perspective which will end all your suffering in this area? 

Because that’s what’s required if you want to find a sustainable and permanent solution to this problem.  

Are you up for that?  Are you interested?  

Be honest.  You may not be ready.  

You may just want to keep trying to make your appearance conform with the so-called ‘beauty’ standards. If that’s you, that’s ok.  

I was like that for decades.  I was scared of change because I believed all my own thoughts and couldn’t imagine how it would be possible to see things differently.  The only happy outcome I could envisage involved conformity and admiration.  I had to suffer deeply for a long time until I became ready to consider something new.  

How about you?  Do you feel ready?  Are you listening for anything beyond your own existing beliefs? 

What if you're not open to change and you can't help but keep chasing the illusory dream of 'the body beautiful'?

What if you’re not ready for change yet?  What then? 

Maybe you think losing weight, getting plastic surgery, or building more muscle will make you look better and feel happier.  So, you restrict what you eat, try to save up for an expensive procedure or spend all your free time at the gym.

Part of you senses that there’s something off with what you’re doing.  You can see that it’s creating imbalance and problems in your life.  But you’re still not willing to give up on the dream of having ‘the perfect body’ just yet.  

Or perhaps you've got 'comfortable' with hating the way you look and your 'friendships' are all merely focussed on commiserating with other people about how awful life is.  

It can sometimes feel safer and easier to blame our suffering on our genes, our childhoods, 'society', our mental health labels or the unfairness of life in general than to consider the possibility that we might actually have something to do with our own experience of life.

So, what to do?  What to do when you’d like to change in theory but don’t really want to in practice?  

That was me for a long time when it comes to controlling my appearance.  I could tell there were massive downsides to how I was living, but I just wasn’t ready to let it all go because to me that felt like resigning myself to a life of misery in which I’d never feel good about myself.   It was a painful place to be, and I felt stuck.

Or what to do when you simply can't conceive that change is possible and you're stuck in the trap of believing the world needs to change for you to be able to feel better?

Laughter is the best medicine.

If this is where you’re at, here’s what I’d recommend: try to have a sense of humour about what you're up to.

I realise that when our behaviours are very unhealthy and are costing us so much in terms of health, wellbeing, time, energy, and money, they don’t seem very funny.  

And I don’t want to dismiss the serious consequences of being at war with your body.  All my work now is about trying to help people to find peace with their bodies, so, of course, I take this problem seriously.  

And yet… I have to be honest and admit that when I was struggling with this, I found laughing at the craziness of my behaviours helped everything seem less overwhelming.  

I had so many intricate rules about eating and my body that were utterly ridiculous.  And today’s so-called ‘beauty’ standards are so elaborate, it’s farcical!  How did our culture get into the position in which it's almost impossible for anyone to look 'good enough'??

When I stopped to think how funny it all was, it helped me relax a bit, and see myself like I often see my little girl when she’s having a tantrum over something apparently inconsequential – with tenderness and compassion.  

And it’s this kind of gentle attitude towards ourselves that can help us become more open to something new…. Embrace lying in the gutter but keep looking at the stars (to sort of quote Oscar Wilde!).

Drop the self-judgement and pressure to change.

Do your best not to judge yourself for doing what you’re doing.  You’re not crazy – you’re doing it because you believe it will make you happy.  Judging yourself only adds another layer to your suffering.  

But at the same time, don’t give up hope of change.  Stay interested in new ideas and possible solutions. Listen, read, and watch things that point to a different, easier way of being in the world, a way in which there is no need to ‘manage’ the way you look.  

Don’t try to force yourself to change, but, as best you can, listen with an open mind to healthy perspectives that resonate with you.  You never know when something will click and might take you a tiny bit closer to where you want to be...

Hold it all lightly.  Try to differentiate between your current experience and your identity.

We all go through phases in life, and these phases come with different habits of thought and behaviour. Sometimes these habits last for decades, or even nearly our whole lives.  But they still don’t define who we are.  

You’re the one who’s going through the experience.  You’re not the experience itself.  Our experience of life changes when the thoughts that look true to us change.  Change can happen at any moment.  

As Sydney Banks said, happiness is ‘just one thought away’.  So, try to hold your current experience lightly and be open to the possibility that change might be round the corner.  

When you have that perspective, you’re less wedded to your current modus operandi.  This all comes down to self-acceptance and self-love because that is where true, lasting change really comes from.  

So, the next time you beat yourself up for doing the same old things that you know you ‘shouldn’t’, please bear that in mind.  Kindness will take you in the direction you want to go much more steadily that berating yourself ever will.

How do people change?

I believe that there are three key qualities that run through the process of change, namely:

  1. humility
  2. curiosity
  3. courage

I spoke about these in more depth in my free one-hour talk - From Judgement To Joy: insights to heal body insecurities, shame and obsession.  I'll go though each now briefly in turn.  

If you can cultivate these qualities in yourself, positive change becomes inevitable.


Humility is a pre-requisite for change.  If you think you know best and that everything you think is 'right' and the only way of seeing things, change will be impossible.

Your current perspective is creating your current experience.  If you want a different experience, you have to become open to something other than what you currently think.  It's that simple.

Most of us take our thoughts very seriously, and a lot of time, we don't even realise that they're thoughts at all.  We just see it as 'the way things are'.

It can be uncomfortable to consider the possibility that we could be wrong about some things.  Even though our existing perspective may create enormous suffering, the prospect of venturing out of the cocoon of our familiar opinions often feels terrifying.  To question the foundations of your reality is destabilising.  However, when the stability that's being created is one of misery, it's worth it.

Discovering that I was wrong about many things turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

I think people often avoid being humble because they equate it with humiliation.  They don't want to look stupid in front of other people.  And perhaps, more painfully, they view it as a recognition that their suffering is their fault.  When you've been blaming other people and outside forces for your predicament, this shift to look at your own role in your suffering can feel very threatening.

However, being humble is very different from blaming yourself for your suffering.  After all, if you knew better, you would have done better.  We all do the best we can with the thinking that looks true to us.  No one chooses to believe thoughts that cause suffering.  It's more a case that we believe what our minds tell us without realising that's what's going on.  

Being humble is simply a recognition that we might have innocently and unwittingly been duped by our minds into a way of seeing ourselves and the world that caused us suffering.

It is part of being human to see the world through the filter of our own thinking without realising it.  We don't do this because we are stupid, lazy or self-destructive.  We do it because we don't know there is an alternative.


Once we've become humble enough to realise that our suffering might have something to do with the way we relate to our thoughts, the next step is to get curious about whether another perspective might be possible.

When we're curious, we become open to fresh ideas.  It can be wonderfully exciting and interesting.  It's like going from living in a tiny, claustrophobic prison cell to throwing open the jail doors and enjoying the fresh air while exploring what's out there!

If you’re suffering with painful thoughts about your appearance, asking yourself - How do people change? -  is a great question to consider.  

Often, we don’t ask this question though.  Instead, we just ask questions like:

  • What do other people think of the way I look?
  • How can I improve the way I look?

We don’t realise that it’s the preoccupation with these kinds of questions that is the true source of our suffering.

To stimulate a bit of curiosity, why not spend a few moments pondering the questions in the 'Over to you...' section below...  Try not to rush to your usual, standard answers and take it slowly.  What if there was more available to you than what you'd thought previously? 🤔


Obsessing about our appearance is often a way for us to avoid feeling our feelings.  We feel safer up in our heads than we do feeling our raw emotions.  I've had the habit of overthinking for most of my life.  It's a way I try to come up with plans to make my life more secure.  But it's an illusion.  Overthinking doesn't make us safe - it just ends up exhausting and depressing us.

Stepping out of the habit of analysing, planning, theorising, obsessing can feel very scary.  It takes courage to feel emotions, such as anger, sadness, and sometimes even joy.

But the rewards are immense.  A life spent in our heads is not a full life.  Emotions provide our life with guidance and meaning.  Read the post I wrote - You can trust your emotional pain to teach and heal you. - for more on this topic.  We may have to learn to navigate them with maturity, but that will give us so much more fulfilment than trying to avoid them.


  • People change when their relationship with their thoughts changes.  
  • When you start to realise that there is more to life than your habitual thoughts, you become open to change.
  • Once you see for yourself that the thoughts behind your suffering aren't true, and that you're capable of feeling all your emotions which exist to teach and help you, life will become so much easier.  
  • The context in which negative preoccupations, such as body dissatisfaction, take root will thus start to dissolve.  And that's how your life gets transformed in a profound and lasting way.

And now it's over to you.  What are your thoughts about change?

Take a moment to reflect upon thes questions below and let me know what you think in the comment box at the bottom of this page.

  • How does change happen?
  • Can it happen to anyone?
  • Is there anything we can do to make it more likely?
  • Is change always hard?  
  • Can it ever be easy?

I’d love to hear what occurs to you!  Your answers to these questions will have an impact on the likelihood of you experiencing change.  But don’t worry, all beliefs are always subject to change!  And if your beliefs aren’t serving you, that’s good to know.  😊

Reach out if you'd like support

Having support and encouragement really helped me to achieve sustainable change.  I couldn't have done it by myself, and I don't think we're meant to.  

If you'd be interested in having some help from me on your healing journey, check out my free resources or find out how you can work with me.

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