How to Feel More Comfortable in Your Own Skin
Dietitian and nutrition therapist Haley Goodrich works with clients with very different shapes and sizes. “[A]nd as unique as they are, many don’t feel comfortable in their own skin for a lot of the same reasons.” They tell her it’s because they’re not small enough or pretty enough. They say it’s because they take up too much space. They say their bodies are just wrong. They feel judged for their food choices, skin tone or rolls, said Goodrich, who’s passionate about helping others create flexible, joyful eating habits and cultivate a peaceful relationship with their body.
“[T]hey have memories of being bullied, or have been shamed for gaining weight or affirmed for losing weight.” And, ultimately, they feel uncomfortable because they don’t conform to our culture’s ideal image of beauty and health.
How we feel in our own skin also goes beyond our bodies. “[T]rue comfort with ourselves is a state of mind,” said Amanda E. White, LPC, a therapist, blogger and yoga teacher who specializes in working with women with addiction, eating disorders and trauma in Philadelphia.
White has observed that people feel uncomfortable because “their words, some of their beliefs, actions, values and goals are in direct competition with each other in some way.” She shared this example: A client says he wants to stop drinking. But when he and White determine where his drinking stems from, he refuses to work through these unresolved issues. Another client says she wants to feel closer and more intimate with her husband, but she won’t tell him about her infidelity.
We’re also uncomfortable because we try to dismiss or escape from our pain with wine, food, staying busy—and all sorts of other behaviors and habits. “As a result, the feeling never leaves us; it’s never processed and released,” White said. “Most of us are living our life with unresolved emotions from when we were 10 years old. No wonder we feel uncomfortable in our skin. And the more we try to fix things on the outside, the less satisfied we feel.”
Psychologist Deniz Ahmadinia, PsyD, also noted that we search for answers or solutions outside ourselves to fix our supposedly faulty or broken parts. “I often hear various scenarios from clients, such as ‘Once I get this job, once I lose the weight or if I could just make this much more money, then I’ll be happy.” Then I’ll feel better about myself. Then I won’t yearn to crawl out of my skin. Then I won’t feel so utterly uncomfortable.
We become truly comfortable in our own skin when we accept ourselves—even the dark spots we don’t want others to see, said Ahmadinia, who specializes in mindfulness, stress and trauma at the West Los Angeles VA. We “see ourselves completely, as we are, without trying to avoid, run away or resist.”
Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. But there are practical, meaningful ways you can start feeling more comfortable in your own skin—like the below.