Have you ever been sitting there thinking those words: How did I get here? It could be about a variety of things in life, but if you’re human, I’jm willing to bet you have in fact thought those very words. What I want you to think about right now is how did you get to the place where you don’t love yourself, or maybe even like yourself? How did that happen? What I know for sure is that you didn’t start out as a little human not loving yourself. You were TAUGHT to not love yourself. Sit with that a minute and think back to the messages you have received through the years.
“You can’t do that.”
“That doesn’t look good on you.”
“That’s not good enough.”
“You’re too heavy/tall/thin/short/fat.”
“Did you even try?”
“That’s a crazy idea.”
The message comes in many forms. Sometimes it is obvious that it is a critical message. Other times it is more subtle. I like to think of us as having been contaminated by these critical messages through the years. Perhaps our natural state is to love ourselves and others and we are taught to hate others and ourselves through our interactions with others.
Think about this: Have you ever been watching a 2 year old play? It’s a lot of “look at me!” “Watch this!” “I’m super fast!” That seems to be the natural state of humans. A state where they think themselves to be amazing and love themselves for all of that amazing-ness. But then it starts to happen. Sometimes it happens in your own home. Sometimes it is not until you start school — but you start to become contaminated. People begin rejecting you. Judging you. Criticizing you. And all of a sudden you begin to question if you’re good or not… Maybe they are right. Maybe they know something you don’t know…
It starts off slowly and it just compounds on top of itself from there. In writing this, I had to think back to the first time I remember getting messages from peers about not being good enough or similar enough to everyone else that caused my peers to direct critical comments toward me. As I can remember, it wasn’t until the 5th grade (after I had gained weight over the summer) that people began calling me “fat.” That continued into middle school and seemed to tame down a bit by high school — mind you, looking back, I can see that I was not fat. But, maybe they knew something I didn’t know. Maybe they were right. Maybe I was supposed to look like those super thin friends of mine. That’s when the questioning starts. Then it is compounded by messages from the media and society. Eventually, we start saying mean, awful things to ourselves. And what’s worse is we BELIEVE those things.
“My breasts/teeth/feet are the wrong size.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“No one will ever love me.”
“I’m not worthy of love/acceptance/friendship/kindness.”
Ugh! I hate even typing those things now! You see, I used to believe those things. I used to think that I was the ugliest and grossest person on the planet. That no one would love me and I was bound to die alone in a box down by the river. I feared rejection and judgment. I feared being vulnerable because I felt so vulnerable all the time anyway. And it wasn’t until I started talking to myself differently that I started feeling differently and acting differently. I started focusing on the people in my life that were supportive and uplifting. I started listening to the people who said they loved me and showed me they loved me in their own unique ways.
Then I started telling myself what I loved about myself. It started out small. “I like my cute little nose and my pretty feet.” Then it grew into believing that my face was beautiful. Then it progressed into realizing that I don’t have to look like everyone else for people to find my body beautiful. I embraced my curves & my bulges (that’s the harder part, by the way… there are still some of those that I don’t like so much — but I’m working on it). And each day I look in the mirror and tell myself at least one thing I like about myself. Over the years, those messages people gave me in 5th grade and throughout middle school have quietened & I can hear my natural state again. The state that loves everything about itself. The state that says STAND UP AND DO SOMETHING. The state that knows its own power and worth. That state is present in you, too. Let’s find it! And don’t let anything “dim that light that shines from within!”