“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” ~Brené Brown
When I was fourteen years old, I vividly remember the first time I put my fingers down my throat and made myself puke.
I remember feeling fat, ugly, unworthy, and like I was not good enough. I felt as if I had no control and I was unable to effectively process the strong emotions I was feeling. Binging and purging allowed me to temporarily release these feelings, to numb them out, and created a fallacy of control in my life.
From that day on, for the next twelve years of my life, I became consumed with food, weight, working out, and binging and purging.
I measured my value based on the inches on the measuring tape, the letters on my clothes, and the numbers on the scale.
I measured my self-worth on the severely skewed perceptions of beauty that I held.
The way I viewed myself led me down a lifestyle of numbing my emotions with substances, putting myself in risky situations, and hurting the people I loved most.
My self-hatred kept me blocked off, emotionally numb, and gave me a false sense of control in my life. I became adept at constantly wearing a façade of masks—smearing a smile on my face was second nature to hide the ugliness and shame that I felt in every pore of my body.
And although over the years I have overcome my disordered eating, the battle with self-love continues. I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to silence the constant push and pull from the internal thought patterns and dialogue that goes on in my head.
The one thing that gives me some solace (and sadness) is knowing I am not alone.
Because, no matter your age, gender, race, family make-up, or religion, the majority of us struggle with some sort of skewed self-image, negative self-talk, and self-limiting beliefs that keep us stuck in the perpetual cycle of questioning our worthiness.
Although the stories we tell ourselves based on our personal life experiences, traumas, and joys are unique to us, they are collective to the human experience.
This post is for anyone who looks in the mirror and cringes…
Who cry as they measure their self-worth by the letters on their clothes, the numbers on the scale, or the amount of “likes” they get on social media…
Who judge themselves for the jiggle of their bellies, the cellulite on their legs, or the wrinkles on their face…
Who take out their perceived inadequacies on their bodies, harming it through their method of choice—substances, eating disorders, self-harm, risky behaviors.
This post is for the women who are researching the next fad diet, fretting about the color of their roots, their wrinkles, or their weight as they contemplate spending their savings on cosmetic surgery trying to live up to society’s filtered expectations of how a woman “should” look.
For the men who are measuring their masculinity based on the size of their penis, the look of their muscles, or the hair on their heads.
For the transgendered and Cis community who feel trapped in a body that is not aligned with the essence of their true being.
For the people who refuse to look in a mirror, fearful of what they may see.
For the people who feel like they will never be good enough, strong enough, or worthy enough.
I want you to know: You are beautiful enough. You are good enough. You are worthy enough.
I know if you are reading this right now, you may be skimming over those words thinking “yeah, yeah.”
But slow down and read them again.
You. Are. Beautiful.
You. Are. Good. Enough.
You. Are. Worthy. Enough.
No matter your age, size of your pants, number of dimples or pimples you have. No matter the size of your muscles, the hair on your head or the wrinkles in your skin.
Your life matters.
The world needs your essence. Your love. Your personality. Your spirit. Your uniqueness.
In a world where we are inundated with an average of 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements a day telling us how we should look, how we should live our lives, and who we should be, in a world where social media is a filtered lens skewing reality, allowing only glimpses into the realities of others’ lives, it can be easy to add fuel to the fire of self-deprecating thoughts and feelings of unworthiness.
What I learned from my personal struggle with body image, self-hate, and pure distain for every inch of my being, is that self-love is going to look different for everyone, and it is going to take time to undo the decades of self-deprecating self-talk.
But it can be done.
The rise of body-positivity and self-love movement is encouraging, yet it can also leave you feeling as if it is one more thing you are failing at because you just can’t bring yourself to fully embrace those lumps, bumps, tiger stripes, pimples, and dimples just yet.
Through my experience I have found if you start small and give yourself grace and compassion you can start shifting your mindset around how you view yourself. Below are the steps I took in my journey that you may find helpful for your own journey.
Do the deeper work.
Begin to understand how your subconscious mind and self-imposed limiting beliefs from your personal experiences are keeping you stuck. Neuroscience shows us that we can reprogram our subconscious beliefs. Start being the scientist of your life and figure out where these feeling come from so you can start becoming aware of them. The first step in changing any habit/belief is awareness.
Focus on the features you love about yourself. The first body part I started liking was my fingernails. Yes, my fingernails. But as I got used to saying I loved my fingernails I moved on to other body parts and kept the snowball going.
View your body as your partner, not your enemy.
This body does so much for you day in and day out. Shift into a perspective of gratitude for all the amazing things it does. Those thighs help you walk, that belly processes nutrients to fuel you, those wrinkles are proof of years of love, life, and wisdom. Start using the holistic healing powers of your breath. Begin partnering with your body on how you can help each other.
Do an inventory of your strengths.
If this is hard for you to do, then reach out to someone you love and ask them to tell you, in writing, what they love about you or see as your strengths. Seriously, this is scary. I get it because I did it. And I am so grateful I did. I reached out to three of my closest friends and family members and asked them what they saw in me. I did this over eight years ago and still have these letters taped in my journal so that I can read in times when I cannot see what they see.
Consciously choose to focus on what gets you excited in life.
It is so easy to waste our valuable time comparing our lives to others, focusing on what we hate about ourselves, or getting stuck in the perpetual cycle of negative self-talk. Instead, consciously choose to chase your curiosity.
Have you ever set intentions for your year or your life? Setting intentions is one of the most powerful tips I adopted when I began my self-love journey, as it allowed me to focus on the bigger picture of who I wanted to be, how I wanted to show up each day, where I wanted my life to go, and what my definition of happiness truly looked like.
Can you imagine how much passion, happiness, and love we would exude into the world if we were able to switch out the time we spend putting ourselves down into building ourselves up?
We would change the world.
You truly are so much more powerful that you know.