A few week ago I shared on my Instagram that I struggled with my self-esteem and how for a long time I felt like I couldn't be a successful, "empowered" women because well, empowered women don't have issues right?
THEN I shared that I had blogged about it. And I HAD to say that because I knew if I did not have the accountability of having told the world, I would NEVER get around to actually posting this publicly.
And some of you may read it and go, "What's the big deal honey? Why is was it soooooo hard to post this?"
It was hard because in a world of perfectly curated news feeds, it's never easy to admit that you don't have it all together....Even when you know in your head NO one does. Really. Who does? But still.
It's hard because I don't want to share with 10,000 followers that I weighed 240 pounds at my heaviest. Because the truth is I worked VERY hard for no one to ever SEE it. (ie: no profile picture updates, close crops, untagged facebook pictures.)
So this post is really not anything new under the sun, but for me it makes me feel very vulnerable. And I hope that in some way, you will be encouraged by my "journey" towards understanding and changing my low self-esteem.
I'm sure I am not the only person in the world who saw myself in a picture or glanced in the mirror and said....
"Ugh, I look fat".
"Oh my gosh, that double chin!"
"Spare Tires, I got ‘em."
"Whelp, never wearing that outfit again."
"That is so nasty."
"I hate you stretch marks".
"I look like a barrel"
Sounds like something someone who is a little "fluffly" would say. Right?
BUT I struggled with the SAME thoughts as much at 120 pounds as I did at 240 Pounds.
Why? I had loving parents. I was never called fat on the playground. I was told I was beautiful. I got hit on, cat-called at and asked out all the time.
Still I never BELIEVED I was beautiful.
Even when my husband would hold me in his arms and whisper “You are beautiful” into my hair, I would believe with my whole heart he meant it but I would think, “Love is blind.”
After the birth of our daughter in 2013 I hit rock bottom at 237 pounds of built up health issues, stress, binge eating and pregnancy hell. I looked back and wondered WHY had I ever cursed my 120, 150, 180 pound body?
How had I let my pitiful self-esteem control so much of my heart and mind? Why had I let it steal from me those years I could have enjoyed SO much more if I hadn’t been worried about “sucking it in” or not going out because “I didn’t have anything to wear” (aka…"I look fat in everything.")
I watched all the Dove Commercials. Saw all the articles talking about how bad self-esteem issues are. Read Books. Scrolled Blogs. Saw TV Shows. I knew the lowdown.
I know we've all been told that our perception of beauty in todays society is warped. We've been preached at to love the body God gave us. Not to worry about what others think. Eat more veggies and do more yoga.
But I wondered HOW do I actually fix the "I'm not beautiful" struggle deep in my heart and mind? Because there’s was no magic switch that appeared no matter how many self-help books I read or how much weight I lost. I still wasn't happy about the body.
Recently I watched a live business webinar with writer and speaker Hannah Brencher where she said a profoundly simple phrase...
“Stop sleeping with liars!”
And by that she was talking about the ever present little voices in our head that are there to tell us we are not enough, that we don’t measure up, that we will never be who we want to be.
Those little voices that are quick to chime in when we look in the mirror and list off ALL the ways we fail in comparison the the things we think would make us happier.
And that right there is the surest and quickest way to feel ugly. Guaranteed.
Turning off the negative in your head is NOT easy. I can say this with LOTS of experience. But you can’t just “stop being negative” and expect it to work.
I had to replace lies with the truth.
And let me tell you, it’s a full time job! But it takes JUST as much mental energy to listen to truth as it does to believe lies.
Here’s one I had to work on:
Negative: "Empowered women don’t have low self-esteem, I guess I’m not one of those kinda women.”
Positive: “Umm, hello, I AM empowered enough to take control over my thoughts about my self-esteem."
Internationally known boudoir photographerJen Rozenbaum commented on my original Instagram post and said it SO perfectly, "Empowered women don't always love themselves. Empowered women don't let their flaws stand in the way of their greatness. Xo"
I can’t say that I’ve figured it all out but I can say that I’ve slowly learned to listen for and yell “SHUT UP” to the lies and open the door to truth instead. And little by little it gets easier and things start to look a little brighter. Because the more truth I let in, the less room there is for those lies.
And when my husband tells me “You look beautiful babe.” I physically stop whatever I am doing and take a moment just enjoy it, repeat it in my head and NOT make excuses about his eyesight.
Photo Credit: Arielei Kinzer Photography Santa Fe, New Mexico