What IF the only resolution you made was to love YOURSELF more? It seems like such a simple question, with what “should” be such a simple answer. But for many females in our society, young girls, teenage girls, young adult women, and adult women, loving ourselves is not always something that comes easy. I am 25 years old, and can say that in the past two or three years I have finally began coming to a place where I am feeling more comfortable, proud and confident in my own skin. Have I always felt this way about myself, my potential, my knowledge, skills and body? No. Was it easy to get to where I am now? Absolutely not. Did my negative self-talk hold me back in my roles as a student, friend, sister, daughter and partner? Uh huh. Did I compare myself to others throughout my teenage years and into college? You bet. Does this still happen for me at times now if I am not mindful of my thoughts? Of course.
What scares me is not that I am alone in any of these experiences or thoughts that I just shared with you. What worries me is that there are WAY too many other women and young girls who are experiencing what I just spoke about (and more) daily. Our society has a way of telling females how we “should” be. What we “should” look like. What jobs we “should” have. All the tasks and responsibilities we “should” be able to manage. Our culture has created an environment of competition among women. Instead of empowering each other and advocating for one another, we compare, we contrast, we judge. We not only make assumptions and evaluate others, but we do this to ourselves. It seems like a never ending circle. It seems like a cultural epidemic that has no answer. And yet, if we try and understand this on a smaller scale, the solution does seem to be a bit more “manageable” (not sure I like that word, but you know what I am trying to get at 😉 ). If we stop and reflect on this vicious issue, we may find that it might not be as difficult as we think to create the change we’d all like to see in order to live in a world that encourages more self confidence and self expression and less judgment and competition.
With that said, as I am female who has struggled with self-talk, self-esteem, and body image, I am not saying my journey or your journey in becoming more self confident will be simple. I definitely am not implying that. But what I am suggesting, is that the changes we make in our everyday lives can be simple. We can begin strengthening our self confidence and respecting our own self-worth. We can empower those around us, our friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, neighbors, collegues, classmates, the list goes on and on.
I wish more than anything I could give you, or my friends, or my little elementary girls who have very low self-esteem, something that would just take these struggles away. I wish I knew exactly what to tell you and how to tell you to love yourself, your body, and your special and unique qualities. But, I can’t. No one can. My own journey, and every woman’s journey, in learning to appreciate herself (myself) looks different. There’s no magic wand to make it happen. There’s no trick that allows you to wake up one day and poof, all of a sudden you’re confident and proud of the woman you are. Yet, there ARE a lot of us on this planet. A lot of us that are in conflict with ourselves daily. A lot of us being our own worst enemies. We can come together, we can struggle together, and we can find ways to support each other while we help ourselves learn to love who we are, all that we are, and all that we do.
Learning to love ourselves comes with time. It takes effort. It takes stepping in your own “stuff” and working through it. It takes strength, and an openness and willingness to grow and learn. While every experience will be different, and the process may take longer for some than others, we can still support one another. As I said before, I don’t know the “secret” but I would like to share some different ideas with you in this post and in posts in the future. Some of these are things that have helped me in my own journey in becoming a more confident individual. Others that I have listed are thoughts, websites, activities, etc., that stand out to me and I feel as though could be helpful to you or for others around you. As always, please feel free to share and exchange any thoughts of your own as well.
- Be mindful of your thoughts, your self-talk and the way you present yourself to others. Is what you say something you would say to your best friend? To a co-worker? A sibling? Reflect on treatingt yourself the way you do to those you love.
- Forgive yourself! Everyone makes mistakes, no one is “perfect”…
- Avoid “shoulding” on yourself. If you find yourself saying, I “should have” or I “must” you might be placing unreasonable expectations on yourself.
- Encourage yourself!!!! Be your own cheerleader.
- Create a word for yourself, such as strong, beautiful, intelligent, caring, respectful, driven, etc. When you notice those negative thoughts, recognize that they are, but use your “word” to help you focus back on the positive and present.
- Appreciate your body. Recognize ALL that it does for you each and every day.
- Take notice of when you pass judgment and compare. What does this do for you? Instead of looking at how you’d like to be like someone else, VALUE all that you are.
- Exercise! Exercise increases the release of endorphins (chemicals in your brain that fight stress). Exercise boosts self-esteem and helps decrease stress, tension and anxiety.
- Listen to your body. Everyone’s needs for exercise, nutrition, sleep, socializing, etc. is DIFFERENT. Know what feels “right” for you. It’s amazing how wonderful we can feel by simply listening to our body and honoring what it asks of us.
- An oldie, but a goodie! Dove Real Beauty Sketches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57SUnwrY59o
- Embrace and Empower (“Like” it on Facebook) – A page that encourages self-love and self-acceptance through inspirational quotes, resources, etc.
- The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz (Just check it out… 😉 )
- Yoga: This has been a big one for me. Yoga encourages mindfulness, awareness, and it connects you with your thoughts and body. Yoga has challenged me mentally, physically and has been an amazing part of my process. It’s help me learn to acknowledge my self-talk, but then has also supported me in not allowing negative thoughts to interfere with my practice. Basically, the greatness I’ve found with yoga is that I’ve been able to integrate my awarenesses and greater self-appreciation that I continue to learn on my yoga mat into “real” life situations.
- Gratitude journal. Treat yourself to a fun, little notebook and begin journaling about all that you are thankful for, and all the strengths and special qualities you have as an individual.
- No more “fat” talk. “Fat talk” does not refer to just weight, it includes all that we say as women that brings us and others down. It’s more “negative” talk, in my perspective. The following website is dedicated towards helping to eliminate negative talk. http://www.operationbeautiful.com/release-form/how-to-become-fat-talk-free/
- Have a student sit on a chair in front of a whiteboard while other students write positive phrases on the board.
- Tape a blank piece of paper on student’s backs. Students walk around and write positive comments on other student’s sheets.
- “Friendship bracelets” —See “Noticing our Kindness” post (individual/group activities)
- Bucket Filling—See “Bucket Filling” post (under curriculum)
More to come here….
I hope you have a wonderful end to your week. And I hope you are able to begin embracing yourself, all that you are, and that you are also able to empower those around you to do the same. 🙂