The stereotypes surrounding gay men can quite often be damaging, even if they are the so-called positive stereotypes. A gay man is expected to be incredibly witty, always stylish and best-dressed, almost impossibly good-looking, as well as sensitive, emotional, a great dancer, successful, and the list goes on. The biggest problem is, the pressure has transcended from external and has become internalized, so even if other people’s expectations aren’t burdening right now, decades of external pressure have taken a toll, which in turn leads to self-esteem issues, according to psychologists at Anglia Ruskin University. So, our goal today is to help you shake those stereotypical notions from your skin, ditch the expectations, and be the best version of who you are, not what someone else wants you to be.

Look into the mirror

This may seem cheesy but stay with us. Stand in front of a mirror and look at yourself. Think of at least five things you like or love about yourself in terms of your appearance. Believe it or not, affirmations do work, and they’re not just one of the New-Age philosophy fads. Just like we tend to believe the worst about ourselves when it’s repeated by one or numerous people, positive messages also have a way of sinking into the brain. So, every morning, look into the mirror, and say five nice, amazing things to yourself about yourself and not long after you’ll start believing them. According to psychologist Ken Howard: “The affirmations of cognitive therapy have been proven particularly effective in addressing depression and anxiety, which go right along with self-esteem.”

Fix what you can

Once you’re done embracing all the good and accepting and loving all those perfect imperfections, it’s time to fix that which is fixable. Now, bear in mind that you should never change anything for anyone else. External validation makes you feel good for only a nanosecond, so if there’s something you wish to change, do it for yourself and yourself only. For instance, you don’t like your tummy; you wish it were chiseled and flat. Ok, this is doable, just hit the gym and get a personal trainer. If there is a certain body part that causes you to feel insecure and it can’t seem to be fixed with regular workouts, you can always treat those minor imperfections with minimally invasive procedures. Many Australians have been turning to the fat-killing Holy Grail treatment called CoolSculpting in Perth that serves to freeze and kill off the stubborn fat cells. Don’t let corrigible flaws stand in the way of your confidence.

Ditch the negative voices

There are two types of negative voices – the ones that come from toxic people around you, and the ones that come from within. Never put yourself down and don’t allow others to do it either. Negative people are like cancer, and you need to remove them from your life surgically. Yes, you won’t always be the best at everything you do. There isn’t a single person out there who hasn’t made a trillion mistakes and experienced failures. However, the way we cope with failures is what defines us, and positive people play a major role in that. So, surround yourself with loving, non-judgmental people who will be there to lift you and make you laugh in the toughest of times, and say good riddance to those who will undermine you even when you’re at your best.

Stop with comparisons already

Not to go all Christina Aguilera on you, but you are beautiful no matter what they say, so stop comparing yourself to that ripped guy at the gym or that toned fella on the latest cover of a men’s health magazine. Even the people who seem perfect aren’t, and it would be incredibly boring if we all looked the same. It’s the differences and little flaws that make us who we are. Who knows, perhaps that same ripped guy wished he had your sense of humor or your great eyes; the bottom line is, we all think the grass is greener on the other side. Spoiler alert: it’s not, we all have our shortcomings and our strengths, so as soon as you start accepting yours and separate your worth from that of others you’ll be immensely happier.