Today is an exciting day here at Tiny Buddha! It’s the pre-order launch day for Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself, a book about taming your inner critic that features 40 stories from Tiny Buddha contributors.
Throughout the September, I plan to publish 21 “self-love profiles,” introducing you to some of the book’s contributors.
I’m excited to start with an interview with Tiny Buddha member Alesha Chilton, a mother and MBA graduate whose contribution for the book focuses on believing that we’re good enough.
A little more about Alesha…
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your self-love journey.
It has taken a while to dig down deep and love myself just as I am. And it didn’t happen magically, miraculously, or suddenly. It happened a little at a time, slower than a snail it seemed, over the course of many years.
I battled bulimia, bullying, and self-belittling. My eyes are still being opened every day—and that’s the joy of life. We get to have revelations and light bulb moments in the midst of enshrouding darkness, just when we have almost given up hope.
Through the bad and good, realize that this too shall pass.
2. Have you ever felt there’s “something wrong with you”? If so, why, and what’s helped you change your perception?
Of course I have felt—and sometimes still feel—like there is something wrong with me. Being a perfectionist doesn’t lend or cut you any slack. However, I’ve learned to lower my expectations about my body, my time, and my abilities.
So what if I don’t look like a supermodel in a bikini? What’s important is that I am healthy, which I am. And I’m not supermom by any means, but my child is happy and healthy. That’s all that really matters at the end of the day.
3. Have you ever thought something was a flaw only to realize that other people actually appreciate that about you? What was the “flaw”?
I used to think that being short was a flaw because I couldn’t reach the dishes on the top shelf or play the hitter position in volleyball. But I practiced a lot and did a lot of conditioning, becoming the fastest player. Soon my coaches appreciated my hard work ethic and my quickness, and so did I.
4. What was your biggest mistake (that you’re willing to share), and what helped you forgive yourself?
My biggest mistake was getting into and being involved in an abusive relationship. I felt so ashamed, hurt, confused, and guilty.
I forgave myself in many different ways as I learned more about why people get into abusive relationships. I realized that I was young and insecure. I thought that I could “fix” or change him if I was loving and caring enough. I didn’t know what red flags to look for when dating. I didn’t truly believe that I could find a “soul mate.”
5. Complete this sentence: When other people don’t like me, I…
…do some self reflection to see if the problem lies in my attitude, tone, words, or actions. Sometimes other people can shed light on our not so attractive qualities, and thus help us become a better person.
I try to be understanding and compassionate with others, even though I fail sometimes. I don’t let someone not liking me ruin my day. Often the problem lies within themselves.
Whenever I’m annoyed or don’t like someone, I try to do some self-reflection as to why. Once you understand why you dislike someone, you can learn and grow into a better, less judgmental person.
6. What are some areas in your life where you’ve compared yourself to other people, and what’s helped you let go of these comparisons?
I’ve compared myself to the strong, independent woman traveling around the world. I’ve compared myself to the mom with perfect abs, who still finds time to make organic meals. And I’ve compared myself to the summa cum laude Harvard lawyer graduate earning six figures.
I’ve learned to let go and not compare myself to these people in varying ways. They are on a different journey than I am. That doesn’t make my journey less valuable, less successful, or less meaningful.
I judge my success on happiness and being able to provide the basics for my family. Recently, I have become enlightened enough to take more risks. Taking risks is scary, but taking healthy risks—like applying for jobs and calling potential employers—is good for the soul.
If we doubt our capabilities, we doubt ourselves. Although you may encounter many failures, you can also encounter great success! Idleness will keep you on the same boring road.
7. What’s one thing you would tell your younger self about looking to other people to complete you?
I would tell myself that it’s nice to have someone by your side, but it’s more important to learn to be happy on your own. You have to be with yourself every single day. There is no escaping yourself.
8. Have you ever felt afraid to show people your “real” self? Why—and what’s helped you move beyond that?
I was bullied for being “weird” when I was younger and I let that define me. I was afraid of revealing my whole true self for fear of rejection. But I’ve learned that the world has a place for everyone and that people appreciate confidence, even if you are a little strange compared to others. You just have to accept yourself first. There are lots of people like you, but it’s up to you to see the similarities, not only the differences.
9. What are the top three things you personally need to do to take good of yourself, mentally and emotionally?
I need sleep, intellectual stimulation, and reflection.
Getting a good night’s sleep allows for clearer thinking and deeper reflection. I need intellectual stimulation so that my mind doesn’t focus on trivial worries and negative things. I need reflection in order to become a more mentally stable and happy individual.
10. What’s something you do regularly that makes you feel proud of the difference you’re making in the world?
Lately I have been making and putting anonymous love letters in random public places (see www.moreloveletters.com). It helps me feel good knowing that my letter can help inspire someone, give them hope in humanity, and help them have a better day.
The smallest differences are sometimes the biggest in the end. I try to smile and be friendly with people, even if I’m feeling grouchy myself. People need to know that others care about and appreciate them.
*Note: I edited this post to remove info about the pre-order promotion, which ended on October 8, 2013. You can learn more about Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself here.