Monday, August 6, 2012

The Big Girl's Guide to Falling In Love...With YOU!

The Big Girl Chronicles:  The Big Girl’s Guide to Falling In Love…With YOU!

I imagine that just as I have had personal battles with self acceptance, so have others.  The feeling that you’re not good enough.  Too much of one thing.  Not enough of the other.  Poor self-image.  Whether it’s weight or scars, whatever imperfection or other physical characteristics, how one feels about themselves on the inside becomes what the world sees on the outside.   And if that’s what the world sees on the outside, that’s how the world responds to you.  The more the world responds to your poor self image, the more you internalize and validate.  Do you see where this is leading?  It becomes a cycle of behavior where you are feeding off of what’s feeding off of you.  Before you realize it, you are completely consumed and surrounded by your own feelings about yourself.  Just as you set the ball rolling to create this cycle, you’ve got to interject the change you want to have happen to break it.  The starting point is in managing your feelings about who you are.
The first question you may want to ask yourself is “what is the source of the negative feelings I have about myself?”  That’s what I had to ask myself.  Why do I feel so bad about who I am?  Where is this coming from?  Often times we learn that we are somehow not good enough because of what we’re taught or where our basis for comparison lies.  This is the risk I took when I allowed someone else to define who I am rather than to become who it is I desired to be.   I was told that I was a mess.  So that’s how I dressed myself.  That’s how I responded to myself.  I believed what someone else told me more than I believed myself.   
If you have internalized negative information about who you are from others, beginning to unlearn all the harmful things you have accepted and believed seems near impossible.  But it can be done.  What worked for me was to make a list of all the things that I didn’t like about myself.  My list was ENORMOUS.  Honestly, to look at all the negative things I felt were true about myself was overwhelming.  And I believed these things to the depths of my very soul.  To counter that, I made a list of all the things I liked about myself.  Uh Oh!  That list was pathetically dismal.  Minuscule.  Embarrassing.  What did I do?  I opened my eyes and took a second look.  And this is one time when I’ll tell you it’s perfectly ok to cheat.  Because as I looked over the negative things that I thought were true about myself I realized that I had negatively described some actually desirable qualities.  I cheated myself out of some good stuff by putting a negative spin on it!  I had to begin to reverse the damage.  What I thought of as being blunt was actually a straightforwardness that would be appreciated when you want to know the truth.  Or what I describe as impetuous could be a spontaneity that would be appreciated where appropriately applied.  And guess what?  Thinking about these qualities differently helped me to manage them more effectively.    
Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are some qualities that needed to be extracted.  There was simply no place for them in my idea of who I want to be.  So once I separate the mess from what’s worth keeping, I’m closer to changing my perception of who I am.  I reinforced those things that I want to remain a part of who I am.  I’m beginning to like who I am.  People begin to respond to my attitude about myself with the same enthusiasm.  And there you go! 
I wish I could say it was just that easy…but it’s not.  The process is ongoing.  The more I learn about myself and why I frankly didn’t like me very much was more than just that I believed what someone told me about myself.  It was more than me cheating myself by how I described myself.  I realized also that I took myself entirely too seriously!  I needed to lighten up on myself or how else could I come to love myself?  Remember those physically unattractive qualities from earlier?  How about I drew a picture of myself emphasizing what I think of as unattractive attributes!  I drew a funny picture of myself.  And then…I laughed!  The cartoon version of myself was actually quite adorable and humorous!  But guess what else?  It was actually worse than the reality!  The way I look wasn’t nearly as bad as I had drawn!
Now comes the really fun stuff!  Because after I developed a healthier, more balanced attitude about myself and got more desirable responses from others… after I began to laugh at my imperfections and not take myself so seriously… I realized that I could better love myself by spending more time getting to know myself.  That meant paying attention to the things I like and spending time doing those things.  Doing my own manicure and pedicure. Fixing myself a special dinner.  Visiting the beach and enjoying some jazz.  Things that I didn’t make time to do before that now help create the person I want to be.
Once that momentum gets going and you start to fall in love with who you are, you will continue to find ways to love yourself.  Like deciding to practice healthier eating habits.  Deciding to exercise to create a better you now rather because of some illness.  Taking a class to learn something new.  The list becomes endless.

You are the person who has to live with you the rest of your life.  Why waste those precious moments of life unhappy with yourself?  Begin to make the most of life and your role in the world around you today! Love you!  And enjoy learning about you along the way! 

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