Growing older can be a beautiful process. You become wiser, know yourself more deeply, and understand more of what is important in life. Unfortunately, those messages often get drowned out by negative voices in a youth-obsessed culture. Instead of seeing age as a natural process that everyone goes through, society equates value with youth, especially for women.

Self-acceptance is a radical act in a culture obsessed with outward appearance and how many candles are on your birthday cake. Showing yourself love and kindness is something you have to work at continually. To do so, consider these tips for empowering self-acceptance and inner beauty in a society obsessed with youth.

1. Embrace the Power of Choice

Exercising your power to choose is crucial to thriving in a youth-obsessed culture. Your first decision could be to reject societal standards and media representations that insist you look a certain way. You can decide to focus on your inner beauty, which is where the most wonderful transformation happens. Honor what is gorgeous on the inside by enumerating your favorite personal qualities.

On the other hand, your choice might involve honoring the desire to keep looking a certain way. You form a particular attachment to your physical image, and it can be difficult to see that slowly change through the years. If that’s how you feel, there’s no shame in working to maintain your look with an anti-aging treatment or cosmetic procedures. Just be sure you’re choosing this for yourself and not for anyone else’s approval.

2. Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is instrumental in empowering and accepting yourself. Remember that the practice may look different from day to day. Some days it might be logging off social media if comparing yourself to others is getting you down. In other moments, self-compassion could mean speaking as kindly to yourself as you would to someone you love. Self-compassion also requires caring for your physical and mental health, as you deserve to be treated well and feel great.

You especially need to show yourself compassion when you feel overwhelmed by the pressure to look a certain way. When you experience a wish to turn back the clock, meet that thought with grace instead of shame. Acknowledge that it is normal to be affected by societal messages sometimes, but they needn’t keep you from loving yourself. Be honest with your feelings and allow yourself to be a constant work in progress.

3. Make Friends of All Ages

Making friends from different generations opens you up to new connections, an expanded support network, and diverse perspectives. Cultivating these friendships also allows you to deconstruct your stereotypes or biases, especially regarding age. Having friends of all ages lets you see how you can experience life at every stage. These connections can also remind you who you’ve been and want to become.

Older friends help you ponder what you might be like in a few years and how you want to grow into that person. They can become role models that shower you with wisdom and offer fantastic advice based on their broader life experiences. Younger friends are a sweet reminder of life stages that are full of challenges but also energy and potential. These friendships can feel healing as they encourage you to look back on a younger version of yourself with love.

4. Heal Your Inner Child

One of the main lessons of growing older is understanding how the past shapes your present. For example, childhood trauma could significantly affect how you move through life as an adult. Doing work to heal your inner child is a tremendous act of self-love for every version of yourself. Start by acknowledging your inner child and listening to what they say. You might even write your younger self a letter to move through the healing process and deconstruct the past.

Another tip for healing past injuries is placing a photo of yourself as a little kid on your mirror. Choose a picture that represents your uniqueness and fills your heart with so much love for this past version of you. The key is to never tell your current self something you wouldn’t say to your sweet younger self. So ponder the photo whenever you look in the mirror and feel bad about yourself. If you wouldn’t express harsh thoughts to that version of you, you shouldn’t do so to the person you see in the mirror now.

Accepting and Loving Yourself

Embracing who you are at any age is one of the most important ways to show love to yourself. Societal standards and media messaging try to make you believe you’re not good enough as you are, especially as you grow older. You have the power to reject this harmful and outdated messaging by embracing your uniqueness and focusing on the beauty within. You may also find it helpful to set boundaries with messaging and people that make you feel inadequate.

Always remember that true beauty radiates from what’s inside you and how you treat yourself and others. The journey to self-acceptance is not linear or always easy. You will experience days when it’s harder to look in the mirror. On other days, you might feel at peace with your inner and outer beauty. Whatever day or emotion you’re experiencing, meeting yourself with grace and compassion will be the key to loving yourself well.

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Jennifer Alvarez is an investigative journalist and is a correspondent for European Union. She is based in Zurich in Switzerland and her field of work include covering human rights violations which take place in the various countries in and outside Europe. She also reports about the political situation in European Union. She has worked with some reputed companies in Europe and is currently contributing to USA News as a freelance journalist. As someone who has a Masters’ degree in Human Rights she also delivers lectures on Intercultural Management to students of Human Rights. She is also an authority on the Arab world politics and their diversity.