Almost everyone desires beauty. Many teens I coach strive for it. However, the type of beauty they (and many others) seek is external beauty. It is all about perfect hair, skin, lips, lashes, and body shape, and is accompanied by the belief that this level of beauty equates to instant happiness and fulfillment.
It would be a mistake to completely dismiss external beauty. When coaching teens in this area, I always validate the importance of looking and feeling good. But I also describe the problem of putting so much emphasis on outer appearance- our body is always changing, especially during the teen years, and it can be stubborn to transform in the exact way we wish. Quite often, we can’t naturally make curly hair straight, acne-prone skin clear, short lashes full, or body parts shrink or inflate. Additionally, when we strive for a particular outer appearance and do not achieve it, self-doubt, frustration, shame, and low self-esteem set in.
These are the reasons it is essential to help teens cultivate a sense of inner beauty and understand how it supports them when outer appearance cannot.
In a recent coaching session with a sixteen-year-old, we dove into the topic of inner beauty. After exploring her beliefs about beauty, she asked an important question, “What does inner beauty look like?” This prompted us to brainstorm a list of inner beauty qualities.
Qualities of inner beauty include (but are definitely not limited to):
I asked my client to think about how these qualities shine on the outside and how they impact beauty. I pointed out, you can meet someone who is unbelievably gorgeous but if she is rude, selfish, fake, or disloyal, suddenly her outer beauty fades. What seems attractive and alluring becomes repulsive. On the flip side, when you meet someone who may not have flawless skin, luscious lashes, or a perfect physique, but is generous, kind, funny, caring, and true to herself, she glows! She is also more likely to feel confident and happy and be surrounded by genuine friends.
Then, my client asked, “How do you become beautiful on the inside?”
Secrets of cultivating inner beauty
- Create your own definition of beauty, including inner qualities, and measure yourself by that, not what society dictates.
- Identify your personal strengths and values. These may include some of the qualities listed above.
- Recognize how it feels when you allow these qualities of inner beauty to shine and notice how others respond.
- Start to develop the qualities you admire. With commitment and time, you can strengthen any quality or ability.
- Focus on the parts of your outer appearance that you appreciate and admire.
- Tame your inner critic (Check out my blog about Confronting your Gremlin.)
- Nourish your connections with uplifting friends and people who also focus more on personality overlooks.
- Stop engaging in self-deprecating conversations.
- Shift comparisons into compliments.
- Think kindly about yourself, others, and the world. Kind thoughts are at the core of inner beauty.
The Bottom Line
When we embody the qualities of inner beauty, we can make a difference in the lives of others and build stronger connections. We become more connected to ourselves and our emotions which supports better decision-making and self-control. We feel happier and more satisfied with our lives.