I wasn’t born hating myself and honestly, I don’t remember the exact moment that it started. My best guess is that it happened slowly. An unfolding over the course of many many years, events, and small, seemingly insignificant, moments and conversations.
All leading up to the day where I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.
I felt unworthy. I felt hard to love. I was stuck and I couldn’t see it. What I could see was my behavior. I could see my acting out. I could see my trying too hard. I could see my drug use. I could see my drinking. I could see that I didn’t know how to relax. I could see how tense and angry I was. I could see when I sat still how my legs, feet, hands, and/or arms would shake. I could see my skin scratched red and bleeding from me clawing at myself while I rocked in place. I could see my tears. A lot of tears. I could see my poor health and how sick I was all the time. And, I could see myself shift from seemingly “fine” to hysterical anger in no time flat.
What I was not yet aware of, what I couldn’t yet see, was that I was medicating my emotions to keep up the facade I believed that the world wanted to see.
I remember looking in the mirror and hating who I saw in the reflection.
I was burnt out and exhausted.
I was negative.
I hated my job.
I complained a lot.
I was afraid of failure.
I was afraid of being exposed.
I was afraid of what success would look like.
I was unclear.
I was insecure.
I was stressed out.
And, my head talk was out of control.
Shortly after that moment in the mirror, I started a home-based business and got introduced to the world of personal development and mindset. For the very first time, I became aware of how I was sabotaging myself. For me, the problem was, WTF was I supposed to DO with that awareness?! The generic affirmations I was being given weren’t enough. They weren’t working. I didn’t have this awareness at the time, but it was almost as if they were making things WORSE because they magnified the distance between where I really was and what I was affirming.
What I really wanted was an “Easy 1,2,3 : Steps to Fix Yourself”. If I could have found anyone selling that anywhere, I’d have snatched it up immediately.
But, they weren’t. No one was. What I’ve come to know as truth is that the healing journey is individual and we must be willing to walk it ourselves.
Simply starting my new business didn’t “fix” anything because the work had to be done internally. I had success, but I was still unhappy. I felt like a loser and a fake.
Pretending to be perfect.
Pretending everything was okay.
Pretending I was happy.
Pretending I wasn’t struggling.
Pretending I wasn’t scared.
The first significant step in my healing was to put my hand up for help. To stop pretending that I had it all figured out and that I could handle everything on my own. How I was living wasn’t working and I needed to come clean.
What I’ve learned is that we cannot solve our “problems” while sitting in the same situation, with the same people, and with the same mind that created the “problems”. We need outside perspective.
Thus began my in depth journey back home to me. I’m not there yet. But, I have come a looooooooooonnnnnng way and I am obsessed with guiding others while I continue to walk out my path.
What follows are a few of the things I’ve learned in my travels…..
1. Be willing to answer the tough questions.
This is a “come to Jesus” moment. Be willing to ask and HONESTLY answer the tough questions.
What’s NOT working? Your career? Your relationship? Your health?
Where in your life are you not playing full out?
Where/when do you shrink back so that others won’t be uncomfortable?
Where in your life are you out of integrity?
How do you speak to yourself? Do you frequently use words like stupid, idiot, klutz, dumb, fat, or ugly?
How much time do you spend on self care?
How negative are you? (Think scale of 1-10)
How often do you experience anger and how quick are you to go there?
How often do you feel sad?
Do you like being alone?
How frequently are you using substances to mask your feelings? (Drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise, food…)
2. Stop pretending and own up to your reality.
Just stop it.
Stop pretending that you’re okay when you’re not. Stop pretending that you have it all together. Stop pretending that you’re always happy. Take off the mask of perfection and take full ownership of what’s REALLY happening in your life. Look at your previous answers and accept that this is your reality. This is what’s real for now. It CAN change, but the first step to change is acknowledgement of what IS.
The next step is taking responsibility for what IS.
WITHOUT JUDGMENT. WITHOUT JUDGMENT. WITHOUT JUDGEMENT. WITHOUT JUDGMENT. WITHOUT JUDGMENT.
Just acknowledge. “This is my reality and I take responsibility for the choices I’ve made that have lead to this moment.”
Maya Angelou said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
There’s no blame in this space. Just acceptance. Beautiful, loving acceptance.
What you must know is that from THIS space, you can take ACTION.
3. Embrace your process and love your exquisite journey.
You didn’t get here overnight. You’re not going to heal overnight either. I have to make a daily effort to stay showing up as the REAL ME. Please give yourself time and trust me when I say you’ll save yourself a lot of energy if you’d simply be willing to drop the story that “you should have it all figured out by now” or “you shouldn’t still be struggling with this”, or whatever other BS lie you’re telling yourself.
I’ve learned exercises where I look at myself in the mirror, celebrate my wins, and tell the little girl I see in the reflection how much I love her and how very proud I am of who she is. NOT what she’s accomplishing or how much money she’s making or how many likes or comments she’s getting on her posts or how many followers she has on IG or subscribers to her blog or emails. None of those things have anything to do with who she is.
My value is innate. It doesn’t increase when I “do good” or decrease when I “do bad”. It’s completely detached from what I am accomplishing or producing.
I am worthy because I am.
I am valuable because I am.
I am enough because I am.
I’ve learned to label my identities as seperate from ME and as I’ve shared in previous articles, I’ve named them and communicate with them as the individuals they are.
I’ve learned to look backwards at how far I’ve come instead of constantly looking ahead to some undetermined place I’ll never reach because even if I get close, I’ll just keep moving the finish line to validate my “not enough” story.
I’ve learned to celebrate progress instead of exhaustively pushing for unattainable perfection.
I’ve learned to recognize that the identities that pop up aren’t ME, they’re simply a PART of me that is feeling unloved.
I’ve learned to love them.
I’ve reframed my fears from something to be avoided at all costs, to signs that I must be growing and confirmation that I’m moving in the right direction.
I’ve learned that I need a support system to help me. I need a coach. I need an accountability partner. I need live events. I need mentors. I cannot do it alone. (I’ve also learned that you can’t either.)
Truth be told, I still battle my dark side. But now, I bring it out to the open. I don’t pretend it’s not there. I don’t shame myself for having a dark side. I’m not embarrassed of that part of me anymore. I actually think she’s beautiful. When I recognize that she’s in control, I reach out to my accountability partners, I post in my support groups, and I receive love, support, and acknowledgement that I am not alone.
I share this so you know you are not alone. I share this to give you hope for what’s possible. I share this to offer a first step or a next step depending on where you’re at in your journey. I share this so that you know I recognize “stuck” as a real place. I share this in the hope to breathe belief in you as you walk out your own healing journey. I share this to offer support and a safe space.
Me? I’m perfectly imperfect. And, more often than not, I am pretty damn proud of that.
Image via Princess-Hanners on DeviantArt