How To Prevent Your Self-Esteem From Taking You On A Roller Coaster

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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(Originally posted on Hello Perfect)

With all the Insta-pics, tweets, and Facebook status updates, we look like we’ve got everything together. But sometimes, despite all appearances, the reality is far from put together.

In a recent article, author Sarah Varney shared the story of Carlos, a formerly overweight man, to illustrate the idea that despite the fact that someone looks healthy on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t battle past demons.

You can lose the weight. You can put on makeup. You can get surgery. But sometimes the external changes aren’t enough. Sure, having a great body is good for your self-esteem, but if you base your self-esteem solely on the media’s standards of beauty…well, you’ve seen what happens to girls who do that.

If you base your self-esteem on external factors, you’ll find your self-esteem speeding up and down faster than Roadrunner chasing Coyote. The key is to build your self-esteem from the inside out. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time building a solid foundation instead of chasing after my self-esteem like a beginner runner trying to run a 5k.

Cut Out Media

 

Yes, you did just read that. Yes, I know Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model are as addicting as Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream. But if you cut media out of your life (notice that I didn’t limit it to stuff you see on screens?), you get a chance to focus on yourself rather than trying to reach what is most likely an unattainable “norm.”

If that sounds impossible, start small. Cut out one reality show one week. Throw away those old issues of Vogue that are gathering dust on your desk. Watch one episode of Game of Thrones instead of holding a marathon and chowing on popcorn in the process. Media can be fun, but too much of it can be so damaging to your self-esteem.

Talk To Someone

 

            Yes, this goes against my entire do-not-rely-on-external-factors argument, but hold on for a second and hear me out. We are humans, not robots. We can’t do everything ourselves. We run out of steam so fast that it’s not even funny. That’s where talking to someone can help.

Now, when I say someone, I don’t mean anyone. I mean someone you trust. Someone doesn’t need to bring you down to make herself feel better. You might not be a chatterbox, but here’s the thing. The longer you keep your lips zipped, the bigger your problems get. Talking to someone can give you some perspective. You might realize that the thing you’re obsessing over, which seems like the worst thing on the planet a few hours ago, is actually the most insignificant detail in the world.

You don’t need to disclose your entire life story. Just tell someone that you’re having issues, and you need a pick-me-up. Sometimes all you need is a little pick-me-up (that is not in the form of tiramisu) to make you feel better and boost your self-esteem.

 

Focus On What You Do Well

 

I’m not going to pull a Louise Hay and go all self-help book on you, but sometimes we actually do need to focus on what you do well. Do you cook a mean spaghetti with meatballs? Take note of that. Are you the resident Miss Organization that everyone turns to because they know that you won’t lose anything you give them for safekeeping? Write that down. Positivity attracts positivity. Focusing on what you have and what you do well instead of what you don’t have brings more positive things into your life.

And who doesn’t want that? The best part about that is the fact that you can pull out your Things I Do Well list and look at it (if lists are your thing). You can keep adding to it. When you actually take a step back and look at it, I have a feeling that you’ll discover that you’re actually pretty darn talented.

Give Yourself Time To Let Steam Off

 

            If you’re feeling overwhelmed with things, excuse yourself. No, I can’t give you a machine where you can press the pause button on life, but you can voluntarily remove yourself from situations that aggravate you. The more you suppress your emotions, the more the steam builds. And the more you suppress your emotions, the more your self-esteem will suffer.

Let off steam in the best way for you. Write in a journal if that’s your thing. Go run a couple miles in the park if that’s your thing. Do whatever it is you need to do to let off steam. The worst thing you can do when you’re trying to boost your self-esteem is to ignore your emotions. You’ll just feel worse about yourself if you do. No one wants that, right?

You Are Going To Be A Bundle of Contradictions, And That’s Okay

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Miscellaneous Musings, Re-framing Your Thinking

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“You’re too sensitive.”

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

“Just get over it.”

 

Sound familiar?

 

I think if we all were paid a dollar when someone said those things to us, we’d be filthy rich by now. Kids and adults can be cruel.

Okay. You might not think that those things are cruel, but even the smallest things can destroy your confidence, especially if you’re a hypersensitive person like me. I don’t care if you’re Jennifer Lawrence or your neighbor down the street. Everyone goes through those moments when their confidence is ground in the dirt.

And in those moments, it’s easy to look to the person you idolize. Yes, you know who I’m talking about. Those people whose Twitter accounts you stalk, whose magazine covers you buy the second they hit the newsstands. The ones you want to be.

Sure, they may look like they have everything, but that doesn’t make them immune to pain. Despite their “perfect” image (thank you very much every news outlet ever), the truth is that they’re far from perfect.

 

 

 

See? Case in point.

 

Social media has allowed us to filter our lives so much that it’s very easy to think that we are the only ones in the world who suck at life. We have become so gosh darn obsessed with the number of likes, tweets, and followers that we judge our value based on those superficial numbers.

 

You don’t have to be Taylor Swift, Emma Watson, or Selena Gomez to say something in today’s world that you’ll get flack for. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best singer in the world since sliced bread: Anything you do or say will be picked apart. You can’t please everyone. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up becoming a doormat. And becoming a doormat is the easiest way to lose your sanity.

 

The only thing you can do is to try to please yourself. Just because you’re a little dramatic doesn’t mean that you have to put duct tape over your mouth every time you come across the person who called you a drama queen.

 

So what if you don’t think that One Direction is the best band to hit the radio waves since The Beatles? You don’t have to bend over backwards to memorize their names and listen to all their albums in one day just because you want to appease your friends who happen to spend their hard-earned money on concert tickets. You don’t have to justify your decisions or tastes to anyone.

 

You’re still young. We will always be students of life. You can believe multiple things. Your tastes will change and grow with you. You can be a drama queen and still be a mellow, relaxed person. You can like the Beatles, Patti Smith, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift & Demi Lovato all at the same time for different reasons, no matter what anyone tells you. You don’t need permission from anyone.

 

Finding what you like and what you believe is a process. Believing in yourself is not an easy, straightforward thing. You will always be a bundle of contradictions, there’s no way around it.

 

I’m going to try my hardest not to pull a Louise Hay on you, not because I have my doubts about the self-help industry, but because when you’re young, it’s really hard to believe that your flaws make you interesting, when all they seem to do is help you dig your own grave. Yes, your favorite celeb can help, but no matter how many times you listen to their songs on repeat, you’re the one who has to believe that your quirks make you who you are. And it can be really hard to turn Negative Nancy’s voice off.

But who else but you thinks the way you think, likes what you like, and does what you do? All of the stuff (good and bad) that you’ve been through has made you who you are. You might not be able to just shake it off (thank you, Taylor Swift for getting that song stuck in my head). You might let things change you, but that doesn’t mean that you’re any weaker than the next person. You can make the choice to use the obstacles and changes you go through as fuel. Or you can let them remain walls.

And we know what happens with walls.

 

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Image Credit

 

It’s a lot better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are, anyway. I’ve tried being something I wasn’t; it was by far one of the most painful things I have ever done. It was a lot of lying. A lot of crying. A lot of pulling my hair out. A lot of filtering. A lot of hiding.

It took me more than ten years to realize this, but if you just put yourself out there, and KEEP doing it, the right audience will find you.

When you shed your mask, share your story, and be yourself no matter where you are in life, you encourage others to do the same. People will see their flaws in you and realize that it’s OKAY to be flawed, that you DO NOT have to have everything figured out, that you DO NOT have to hibernate like a bear waiting for spring. You can be a role model for others without going on American Idol or winning an Olympic medal. You can do that by living your life, quirks and all. Yes, you heard me. You may be someone else’s Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, or Emma Watson. You just might not know it yet.

I’m not saying for you to blast Shake it Off and let criticism roll off you like water; you can do that if that’s your thing, but I think there’s still a lot to be learned from criticism. The important thing is not to let it get to you, because your haters will ultimately make you better. They will help you grow.

Take in what you want to take in, improve what you can, and keep living your best life.

And for those who just don’t give you the time of day?

Shake ‘em off.

Screenshot Credit: YouTube

Bullying: From Victim To Badass

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself

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Originally posted on Honesty For Breakfast

We’ve all heard that classic saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever coined that needs to call me. I have a really big bone to pick with them. When I finally track them down, I’ll give their number to all you ladies out there who want to give him a piece of your mind. Just ask me for it.

All jokes aside, bullying sucks. When you’re growing hair in weird places, and sporting glasses AND a metal railroad across your teeth it gets even worse. I remember crying a river when all the lights were turned out as I replayed the school day in my head. I got a lot of phone calls from my classmates. But those calls weren’t to discuss homework or arrange the next trip to the movies. They were prank calls. They called so often that I became afraid of the phone. One thing led to another, and I eventually found myself on a therapist’s couch dealing with a cocktail of emotional issues and sporting a huge label that said I was disabled.

The bullying continued every day for 2 years, until I made the decision to switch schools. The new school was a much better fit, but the damage had already been done. I could spend the rest of my life wishing I could jump into a time machine and do everything over again with what I know now as a twenty-something college graduate but what’s done is done, and honestly, I think that the most painful experiences of your life can be the most powerful teachers. And bullying is no exception. Looking back now, I’ve realized that it’s made me grow in more ways than one…

It Makes You Develop Empathy For Others You’re probably thinking I’m insane right now, but yes, you did just read that headline correctly. Anyone who’s seen the documentary Bully knows that bullying is damaging. It can make you cynical. It can make you a recluse. But it can also make you empathetic. It allows you to relate to others and put yourself in other people’s shoes. Being bullied isn’t a prerequisite for being empathetic, but if you understand that everyone goes through pain, you can be kinder to yourself and others. And who doesn’t love a nice person?

You Develop A Thick Skin That brusque lady who snapped at you as you waited in line at the grocery store? Maybe she had a bad day. Maybe there’s something going on in her life that she’s distracted by. Maybe she’s just not a morning person. This is not to say that you’ll never be bothered by ANYTHING that is said to you if you’ve gone through bullying. You’re a human being, not a robot. Words can (and do) hurt. But you get good at picking your battles. You take in what you want to take in, and let the rest roll off. Easier said than done, yes. But I find that it’s a hell of a lot more fun going through life without worrying about what sort of ridiculous rumor the resident Regina George started about you behind your back. And all that experience dealing with your school’s version of the Plastics has given you plenty of practice, wouldn’t you say?

You Get to Focus on What Makes YOU Awesome Just because your bullies call you fat doesn’t mean you are. I mean, come on, not all of us have Cara Delevingne’s brows, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t just as awesome. Break out a piece of paper and pen and write down the things you love about yourself. Do you speak 2 languages? Love how beautiful your hair is? Are you unwaveringly loyal to your friends? Keep adding to it. Ask your closest girlfriends what they love about you, and add those things to the list. Put it up where you can see it. Focus on it. Re-read that list when you’re feeling down. Focusing on what makes you awesome not only boosts your self-esteem, but it’s also the most powerful “[insert expletive of choice here] you” to your haters. By focusing on what YOU rock at and pursuing your dreams, you can go to bed knowing that you busted your butt to get to where you are. And it’s still entirely possible that those bullies are still camped out on their couches looking for someone else to pick on. Who knows? You just might appear on their TV when they sit down for their next channel surfing session. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

It Shows You Who Your Real Friends Are You might have 500 Facebook friends, but that doesn’t mean that they’re REALLY your friends. When you’re being bullied, it’s easy for those around you to drift away. Not because they’ve suddenly decided that you’re worth less than their morning Starbucks, but because they’re afraid of becoming targets. Not everyone is going to stand up for you when you’re being bullied. But the ones that do? The ones that support you? They’re special. They’re the ones you should keep around. Actions do speak louder than words. Knowing who your real friends are keeps you happy. And when you’re happy, life is just better. And as for those who drift away? It’s their loss. You’re awesome.

How To Accept Compliments Without Feeling Guilty

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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(Originally published on Hello Perfect)

I’ve always had trouble accepting compliments. Growing up, I learned that in order to be a “good” girl, you had to turn down compliments. So I did – but that only served to grind my self-esteem in the dirt.

 

Sure, it took me more than a decade, but I think I’ve finally figured out how to take a compliment without feeling crummy afterwards.

 

Say Thank You

 

In a recent New York Times article about dealing with digital cruelty, author Stephanie Rosenbloom ended the article with a quote from James O. Pawelski, who acknowledged that we are  “really bad, typically, as a culture about accepting compliments;” Professor Pawelski went on to point out that compliments are “meant to be taken in and really appreciated. They’re meant to be gifts.”

 

 

People don’t have to waste their breath paying you a compliment, but they do. They believe you’re worth it, and that’s worth acknowledging, even with a simple “thank you. “ Don’t you think?

 

Look For Things You Like in Others

 

I know, I know. Easier said than done. Sometimes people are mean. Many of us move through life reacting to what we’re told. But if you look for things that you like in other people, it’s easier to find things that you like about yourself. Sometimes the things people compliment you on are admirable traits that you can learn to like in yourself too.

 

Change Your Inner Dialogue

 

I’ll be frank here: I’m still working on this. It’s not like you can snap your fingers and your negative thoughts will dissolve. However, if you take a minute to say to yourself, “Wow, he/she thought I was [insert compliment here]. That’s awfully nice of them,“ instead of, “OK. Why did they say that? They don’t know what I’m dealing with,” you’ll feel a lot better about yourself.

 

 

Do you have any other good tips for accepting a compliment without damaging your self-esteem?

 

How To Glow With Good Self-Esteem

Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

 

howtoglowwithgoodselfesteem(Originally published on Hello Perfect)

I was the girl in school who was picked last for any game involving a ball. While I was never yelled at for not getting an A on my report card, my family expected excellence. They often recounted their own childhoods, what they were doing when they were my age.

 

Those stories only served to make me feel like I was an ant being ground to a pulp under the heel of their favorite pairs of shoes.

 

I used that feeling of inadequacy to push me. I kept telling myself to look at people around me, to try to better them. In a structured, academic environment, it served me well.

 

Without the structure, I flailed. I had to build my self-esteem in a way that didn’t rely so much on external factors.

 

Intimidating?

 

Yes.

 

Impossible?

 

No.

 

How did I do it?

 

Cut Out Friends Who No Longer Serve You

 

We’ve all had that one friend who likes to make themselves feel better by bringing us down.

 

During my sophomore year in college, a friend from my hometown and I decided to be roommates. One we started living together, I quickly discovered that her sarcastic sense of humor that I had once loved was borderline cruel.

 

I started avoiding her while I was on campus and at home, even when she dropped the classic, “We should hang out,” because I knew that she made me feel inferior when I had no reason to feel that way.

 

I’m not saying that you need to have friends who tell you that you’re the cat’s meow every day; it’s good to have friends who challenge you. Sure, you might love that person’s sense of humor or the discussions that keep you engaged, but if you leave a get-together feeling crappy, they’re not worth keeping in your life.

 

Block that individual on all social media accounts. Erase their number. Sit down and talk to them if you can and make it clear that you don’t want to be friends with them anymore. You don’t have to go into the specifics about why if you don’t want to.

 

You’ll find that ridding yourself of toxic relationships makes you feel so much better about yourself.

 

Wear Clothes That Make You Feel Good

 

If you’re comfortable and confident in your clothes, people will sense that. They will be attracted to that easy confidence. But more than that, you will start to feel comfortable with YOURSELF, which goes a long when you’re developing self-esteem.

 

So if you absolutely KNOW that wearing a dress to a big event will make you want to vomit, even if you’re feeling pressured to wear one, don’t. Find something that flatters you and that you feel comfortable in.

 

If you spend an entire event worrying about how uncomfortable a garment makes you feel, you won’t be able to live in the present and enjoy the moment – and learning how to enjoy the moment goes a long way in helping to build your self-esteem.   

 

Create Your Own Standards

 

I’ve found that building your self-esteem can often mean refraining from subscribing to the standards of others. Such standards are often unrealistic.

 

In order to deal with my depression and keep it at bay, I exercise for an hour a day a few times a week. A good day for me is where my symptoms are controlled, when I’m not triggered by anything around me.

 

Sure, to some people, that might not be their definition of wellness. Some people go lift weights for an hour, go to a Pilates class, and finish with a run on a treadmill.

 

I may not work out to that extreme, but I can go to bed knowing that I’ve accomplished something, and that feeling goes a long way in helping me to build my self-esteem. Knowing that I’ve done the best I can for myself, without worrying about what other people expect, makes me feel pretty invincible.      

 

Do Things That Make You Feel Powerful

 

Doing things that make you feel powerful goes a long way in building your self-esteem. You stretch yourself. You do things you never thought you could do. That feeling that you get as you relish in an accomplishment? Hold on to it.

 

A few years ago, I traveled to Japan with a parent for a family event. My family wanted me to say a few words at the gathering. I was petrified, but I calmed down once I was assured that my speech didn’t need to be 15 minutes long.

 

The day of the event, I woke up a ball of nerves and with a stomach ache. I tripped and tottered my way through the crowded Tokyo streets to the restaurant, where more than 30 immediate family members greeted me.

 

Each one of them sitting at the giant table proceeded to give a “short” speech. As I listened to them, I could feel my face start to whiten. These speeches were not 2 minutes long.

 

They were 15 minutes long.

 

How was I supposed to give such a long speech in my second language with a stomach ache?

 

I started debating the option of delivering the speech in English. I knew I could do that for 15 minutes. Most of the people at the table spoke some English. They would be able to understand most of it. After all, it was the thought that counted, right?

 

All these thoughts went out the window after I registered the loud whispers being exchanged among my family.

 

“Is she going to do her speech in English?”

 

“Her Japanese wasn’t that good the last time she was here.”

 

When it was my turn, I delivered my speech entirely in Japanese.

 

Was I nervous?

 

Yes.

 

Did people laugh at me when I fumbled over my words?

 

Yes.

 

But the expression on my family’s faces as I put them in their place was worth the fumbling and the excruciating stomach pain. More importantly, I felt powerful. I had done something that I didn’t think I could do.

 

I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I now believed that I could do things that I didn’t think were possible.

 

You don’t have to make a 15-minute speech in a foreign language to feel powerful. You just need to push your boundaries, prove to yourself that you can do things you didn’t think you could. Building your self-esteem starts with small victories. Count them. Write them down.  As you grow and evolve, things around you will change. But those feelings of power and self-confidence will stay with you even after the things around you disappear.

 

How have YOU built up your self-esteem over the years?

How To Keep the Demons (And the S – Word) Down

Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

 

Demons

“Don’t get too close; it’s dark inside; it’s where my demons hide.”

We’ve all had those nights where you’re wide awake at 4 in the morning. The ones where you’re sweating like a hog in heat. The nights where none of the tricks you use to fall asleep seems to be working.

 

Because those demons creep in.

 

Don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. Those critical voices, the voices of childhood bullies, the ones that tell you that you’re not going to amount to anything.

 

The voices that tell you that you “should.”

 

Should be getting out more. Should eat healthier. Should be stronger. The list goes on and on and on.

 

You might look around you and think that everyone around you has it together, that they know what they’re doing because it seems like they’re navigating life with a map highlighted with Day-Glow markers. And there you are in the corner trying things that don’t seem to be working.

 

The truth is, we’re all in the same boat; the difference is that we just deal with it differently.

 

Not all of us decide to broadcast our woes to the world via Facebook status updates, and what we read on those channels might not necessarily be true. We can edit, water ourselves down to portray ourselves a certain way.

 

So how do you take the bullhorn away from that lizard that keeps saying the s-word?

 

Create Your Own Standards

 

Easier said than done, yes. But you are not your BFF who has a Day-Glo highlighted map to life. You are you. And if a good day for you means putting in just one job application and working out for an hour instead of the person next to you who puts in ten applications a day and bench presses more than 100 pounds at the gym, you have the right to celebrate that.

 

Find An Outlet

 

I’m not here to tell you that there’s ONE WAY to rid yourself of that lizard voice. You have to find a way that works for you. For me, it’s writing in a journal and kickboxing. For you, it might be something else. There’s no shame in saying that what works for one person may not work for you. Find that thing that helps you relieve stress. It could be one thing, it could be two things, it could be multiple things. But finding an outlet for pent-up energy always helps you get out of the “should” trap. It allows you to vent, focus on something else. And I’m pretty sure you’re not too keen on letting that lizard yell the s-word through an invisible bull horn in your ear.

 

Tone Down The Media Consumption

 

I know, I know. You can’t live without your phone. I’m not saying to lock your phone and laptop in a safe or anything. It’s no secret that the media feeds the s word. Since I’ve stopped reading magazines and tabloids, I’ve been much happier. This doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped keeping tabs on what’s happening in the entertainment world (because let’s be real, there’s no real way to escape it). This doesn’t mean that NOT flipping through those glossy pages will make you a happier person within the first 24 hours. But without the extra fuel for the s word, without comparisons, you can focus on improving yourself.

 

Don’t Play The “What-if” Game

 

Now before you go off, I know what you’re thinking: this is the hardest thing ever. This is especially true if you’re a planner like yours truly. But what if the thing you actually end up doing is even better than the thing you had planned?

 

I’ve said before that you don’t have to take every opportunity that comes your way. But sometimes there are regrets. Sometimes it’s better to just bite the bullet and jump into that handstand even though your head is saying that you’ll fall over into the person next to you.

 

We’ve all played the “what if” game, but sometimes the what-if game can cripple us.

 

And I don’t think we want to live our lives as cripples.

 

What strategies do you have for dealing with the s word?

Photo Credit: PicJumbo

The Truth Behind The Mask

Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

 

BehindTheMask

 

 

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.”

 

-E.E. Cummings

 

 

I absolutely hate it when someone tells you that everything happens for a reason. (And when someone tells you that you’ve chosen your parents, but that’s another story).

 

Yes, it’s true that the obstacles, the trauma you went through made you who you are. Yes, it’s true that those formative experiences may have made you stronger. But that doesn’t make them okay.

 

You were hurt. You have a right to be angry.

 

You have a right to be angry because we live in a modern society that’s pretty twisted.

 

We live in a world dominated by screens and unattainable “norms” of perfection where communication has reduced itself to the tapping of keys on a keyboard (or smartphone, whichever you prefer). It’s hard to be yourself amidst all that chaos.

 

Being yourself is hard. Society tells you one thing. At schools, the maze of cliques is a jungle in itself. And then there are the things you don’t see.

 

In my case, it was the tension caused by the contradictory East-West dichotomy. I conformed because it was the only way I knew how to survive. But rather than helping me survive, that conformity led to the one place I didn’t want to be.

 

I won’t go into the details here; you’ve heard me tell that story before.

 

We are all human. Words hurt. We can pretend that we’re fine when we’re really dying. We can project the image of being someone with no filter who doesn’t waste their brain or breath on something (or someone) at the edge of their peripheral vision.

 

But sometimes when the mask comes off we do care.

 

Some would say that the role play, the constant switching from role to role depending on who you’re with isn’t authentic.

 

My response is to read between the lines, because you may only know one side of a particular person.

 

Becoming yourself (and staying yourself) amid all those voices saying no, do this, do that is confusing. It’s painful. And it’s easier to conform than it is to stick out. Because going against the flow takes a lot of strength.

 

So the next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, remember that you aren’t alone. Everyone has issues, even the people you consider “flawless.”

 

We’re all just trying to be ourselves in a big, confusing world.

 

And that’s hard enough.

 

Image Credit: Pinterest

The One Thing To Know That Will Make You Feel Like The Goddess You Are (And How It Can Help Stop Comparisons At the Door)

Learning To Love Yourself

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How many of you remember that one really popular girl in middle school that everyone imitated because they just wanted to be her?

 

The one every other male in your grade had a huge crush on.

 

The one with the most chic wardrobe that every other girl wanted to raid.

 

Let’s just say, for example, that both of you (coincidentally) wore the same shirt to school one day.

 

Did you:

 

a)    Think “Oh my god, I’m wearing the same shirt as she is! That automatically makes today awesome.”

 

OR

 

b)   Think that you look awful because you’re standing next to your middle school’s version of a Victoria’s Secret model and proceed to look for a hole to materialize so it could swallow you?

 

Knowing how awful middle school was for some of us, I’m going to assume that you went with the latter option.

 

I’m not trying to assume that everyone’s middle school experience was traumatic. I mean sure, it’s possible that you could have had a great experience and picked option A.

 

But middle school is generally hard. That’s when puberty starts doing weird things to us, and we start dealing with a lot. Friends, boys (or girls), grades…you get my drift.

 

We start to solidify our beliefs about how the world works. We start trying to navigate the world.

 

And with the media throwing airbrushed images in our faces all the time, it’s not hard for us to look into the mirror and think: “God, I don’t look like (insert celebrity’s name here). I fail at life.”

 

It took me going through high school and college, but I finally figured out how to put a dent in the “I must constantly compare myself to other people” cyclone, and I want to share it with you.

 

See Miss Popular who wore the same shirt as you today?

 

She wasn’t the one who decided that she looked better in that shirt.

You were the one who decided that it was an iron-clad fact that she looked better in the shirt than you did.

 

Miss Mini-Victoria’s-Secret-Model over there can’t control the fact that you think she’s better looking in the shirt than you are.

 

I mean, for all you know, she could think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.

 

Long story short, you are the one who controls your perceptions. The people you compare yourself to? Chances are they don’t particularly care what you think (assuming you’re comparing yourself to someone who doesn’t know you exist). And the people who do know you exist who you compare yourself to? They can’t control what you think about yourself.

 

You do.

 

Feel powerful now?

 

Yeah, I do too.

 

This isn’t to say that it’s easy; personally, I’m still working on my inner lizard (as one book I read so aptly put it), but knowing that I’m in the driver’s seat when it comes to how I think makes me pretty willing to make myself better than I was yesterday. It’s the little things that you like about yourself that build your confidence.

 

And knowing that I’m better than I was makes me feel a lot better about myself than I would if I were staring at photoshopped pictures of Miranda Kerr all day.

 

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That person staring back at you from the mirror?

 

Let HER be your competition.

 

What sorts of things do YOU do that help you stop comparing yourself to others?

Image Credit: Pinterest.

The Secret to Answering One of the Most Difficult Questions In the World

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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Raise you hand if you’ve ever asked the question, “Who am I?”

You could have asked it to yourself, to a friend, out loud.

Have you answered that question for yourself?

 

Maybe it’s just the recent anniversary of the March 11th tsunami and earthquake in Japan, but I’ve been thinking a lot about identity and honesty.

The most painful thing wasn’t watching the footage on March 11th. It was something that was said to me by a former friend and classmate (who shall remain nameless).

 

Upon overhearing a conversation between myself and a friend about the earthquake, he asked me (and I quote):

“You’re not Japanese. Why would you care?”

Excuse me?!

I think I blacked out for a second after he said that. I was overwhelmed with the desire to punch him in the teeth. I pretended to be okay in front of him (since I didn’t want to start a shouting match in the middle of the dining hall), broke down later and punched my pillow for a solid half hour.

 

I understood his point. Going back and forth to Japan, it’s very clear that I don’t belong there. It doesn’t matter that I can speak the language, that my friends call me fluent (to which my response is to look at them like they’ve grown horns out of their heads) or that I have family there.

 

But understanding his point didn’t make it hurt any less or make me any less angry.

 

Even if I didn’t have family or friends there, even if I didn’t have Japanese language skills, I would have still cared.

 

 

You didn’t (and still don’t) have to be Japanese to want to help the people recover. It’s not like they’re holding a screening or application process for people who want to help them with a checklist going, “Black hair…check. Brown eyes….. check, speaks Japanese, check.”

 

They were just grateful for the support and compassion people showed in helping them recover.

My ancestors may have come from Japan, nameless classmate, but that doesn’t define who I am as a person. I don’t have to be from a culture to show compassion for its people in times of pain.

You are not your heritage. You are not your parents. Yes, your parents built a foundation for you, but they didn’t build you. You are not your successes, or your failures, or your career.

You can choose to abandon that foundation and create new beliefs. No one can tell you who you are except for yourself.

 

Yes, you heard me. You get to decide who you are.

So next time you ask yourself “Who am I?” and try to define yourself, know that you have the power to CHOOSE who you are.

Who will YOU be?

Image Credit: Pinterest.

 

 

 

How To Turn Your Pain Into Power (And 3 Little Things To Know Before You Do)

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking

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How many personal social media accounts do you own?

1?

2?

3?

(Or better yet, 0?)

My inner communications major has never been a huge fan of social media. I mean the term “privacy” has gone out the window, the word “friend” is a verb (how weird is that?) and don’t even get me started on cyber-bullying.

On the plus side, social media has given birth to a whole wealth of jobs. It also lets people communicate with their loved ones and friends using something that’s a lot faster than email.

They can be really helpful if you use them right, but they can also bring a lot of pain.

Everyone goes through pain. Sure, other people around you might have gone through similar issues, dealt with them in different ways, but everyone goes through it. No one got anywhere zooming around a real-life Monopoly board collecting $200 every time they passed Go.

Yes, it’s scary as heck, but people relate to vulnerability.

The girl I was a year ago would have looked at the person I am now and thought I was on some kind of drug for saying that. She would have thought I was crazy for starting a blog.

At the time, I thought blogs were reserved for companies and people like Perez Hilton.

I wasn’t the CEO of a billion dollar company, and I had no interest in which celebrity was dating who. All I wanted to do was find a job.

Therefore, I had no interest in starting a blog. Who would want to read about my daily woes anyway?

Then a friend asked me 2 questions:

“What do YOU offer the world? Where can you share your experiences and stories to help other people feel like they aren’t alone in their own experience?”

That made me realize that I could help other people by sharing my story. So I bit the bullet and claimed a WordPress account.

When I shared my story back in November on my blog, I remember my fingers shaking as I went to press the Publish button. I was staring at the cursor for a long time, listening to the battle in my head.

“Yes.”

“No.”
“DO IT”.

“DON’T do it.”

“You’ve already come this far, just hit the big blue button.”

“Are you crazy?!”

“Yes, little voice in my head, I heard you.”

“No, no, no, no.”

“Do not press that blue button. I repeat. DO NOT PRESS IT.”

“Too late.”

“OK fine.”

I spent the next 48 hours wondering what ungodly power possessed me to a) start a blog and b) share the most painful part of my past with the Internet.

But then I realized something.

I was free.

That post gave me freedom. There was nothing to hide from anyone anymore. It was already out there.

There were no likes on the post, no comments, but I didn’t care. Setting myself free was a greater gift than the fleeting stab of joy we all get when we see a little notification on our social media networks.

A few months later, I got a message from a college friend, who told me that they really related to what I had already written, and found it extremely helpful. They encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing.

Cue the waterworks. Knowing that I helped this person was better than the feeling I got walking across the stage at my university’s commencement ceremony.

Fast forward to now.

I’m still chugging along, struggling to figure out my issues. I forget to meditate sometimes. I can’t tell you that I haven’t thought about going back to my not-so-happy place.

But I know better now. That little Facebook message made me realize a few things:

1.    Putting Yourself Out There Can Be A Good Thing

Yes, it’s scary as hell, and you’re going to want to turn back because sharing your pain is…well…scary. But even if you aren’t a celebrity with thousands of Twitter followers that sing your praises, being vulnerable allows you to connect with people. You may not be finding the cure to cancer, but your story can help someone in some way.

2.    The Little Things Matter

Have you been bullied? Than you know how powerful words can be. Sometimes all it takes is one little thing to turn your day upside down. By the same token, it could be the smallest thing that makes your day magical.

It could be:

  • A conversation with a friend.
  • A kind email from a supervisor.
  • A smile.

Some of us live in places where we learn to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Some of us spend hours worrying about what we look like and starving ourselves when there are children (and adults) out there who eat out of trash cans to survive. There are those of us who take our education for granted when there are people who can’t even complete middle school.

I’m not trying to say that we should all volunteer abroad (although that is really high on my bucket list). The important thing is to recognize that the littlest things can make a big difference. YOU have the power to inspire others, to make someone’s day. Why not embrace that?

3.    Take Your Time

Have you ever rushed through something? What happened afterward? Were you happy with the result, or did you want to go back and do it again?

OK, maybe you’re that person who can pull really amazing things off at the last second, but in my experience, I generally felt like I’d cheated myself out of a job well done.

Sharing your story with the world is no different.

You don’t have to disclose everything once the floodgates open.

You have the power to choose what you put out there into the world. If you’re not ready to disclose certain things when people ask you, don’t.  

Honor yourself instead for your courage and the boundaries you set. Honor yourself for how far you’ve come. Sure you may not be Demi Lovato, but your story can have an impact that is just as powerful.

I’m going to say that again just in case you didn’t get that.

Your story matters.

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So be the warrior you know is inside you. Do not fear change, because your story could change someone for the better.

What can YOU offer the world?

P.S. Love the jewelery? Go to my website and tell your story  with customizable jewelery TODAY!