Have you ever had a wakeup call? Like you were so stuck in this one pattern of thought and God kept on shouting at you over and over again but you just weren’t getting it. So finally He decides to humble you by breaking your pride down just so He could get your attention. Well. This kind of just happened to me. And I wanted to share the wisdom I’ve been imparted with, because it really is important and it definitely pertains to loving yourself – because apparently I haven’t been doing that, and it was no wonder why I felt the way I did.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that recently I have been in a sort of depressive funk. Most of the reason being because I recently cut my hair pretty short (somewhat accidentally), and from someone having really long hair for the last 5 years, it was a dramatic change. What made me feel even more self-conscious was the fact that after I cut my hair everyone told me how relieved they were that I cut it because the hairstyle and color I had before was pretty bad (and that’s saying it lightly.) I love when people are honest, but when people are honest and start to poke jabs at my appearance, I become extremely self-conscious because it takes a direct hit to my self-worth.
I’ve always equated part of my self-worth to my physical appearance on some level or another. I mean I’ve always been pretty confident about my appearance (not trying to be vain here!). However, it wasn’t always that way. As a child I was teased plenty. I’m going to get real honest and vulnerable here so bear with me. I have a very prominent nose and children in school used to always make fun it, calling me “big nose” or “flamingo.” It was so hurtful to the point where I would come home crying very often saying that I was ugly. I fed myself this lie constantly and because there were so many around me that confirmed it, I started to truly believe that I was ugly.
Then came high school. I found out more about make-up and fashion and how you can manipulate your looks with the two, so that’s precisely what I did. This carried on well into my mid-twenties. I would put myself in significant debt with the amounts of money I spent on clothing and make-up just so I could feel beautiful and win the approval of others. I wanted people to tell me I was pretty. I wanted them to comment on how good I looked or how my make-up was beautiful. But I never realized that I was always hiding behind my insecurity. I was putting on a façade just so I didn’t have to face my deepest fear that I felt ugly and unworthy.
It wasn’t until my breakdown and financial meltdown in 2014, when my façade finally collapsed. I was ridden with the worst anxiety in my life that I did not care what I looked like because I could barely even function, let alone find the energy to care about my appearance. I had lost my home. Lost my ability to buy any new clothes or make up. Lost my desire to even get dressed up because I was so depressed over everything else. So people were faced to see the real me. Once I finally began my recovery, I was pretty terrified over what people would think. I remember going back to work feeling so weak as a person. I didn’t have any money or cool clothes or any kind of fashion sense anymore because I felt so out of the loop. I looked so plain. And I felt that people could tell I was different. I felt even more depressed because of this.
However, things did change in one way. I began discovering how to accept myself for where I was at. To accept this new self that did not have anything to hide behind. To accept showing people my real self, my vulnerable self. I began The Self Love Challenge and started discovering ways how to love myself more and show more kindness to who I was. I started to grow again, but of course I still wasn’t the same as before. And while I may not have thought so at first, now I believe that it is good that I am not the same as I was before.
However, even though I am doing much better than I was, God recently revealed to me a deeper wound that I was still carrying – one where I still was not able to accept myself completely. Sure, I may seem that I value myself on the outside and I may even show kindness to myself on some days, but deep down, I still feel the wound of feeling unworthy, and most of it comes from my own insecurity of feeling ugly or unlovable. I know, it may sound silly to some of you. You may say, “no way, you are so pretty!” or “there’s nothing wrong with you, you are beautiful.” But I don’t think it’s fair to discount anyone’s issues. What may be insignificant to one person, may be a severely damaging thought pattern to someone else. I was ingrained to believe that I was ugly because of my nose, which began to form even deeper core beliefs that I was ugly, unworthy, and not valued. We may not ever realize where these deep beliefs come from on the surface, but if we dig deep enough we will eventually find that somewhere in our past we were wounded very deeply and that that wound never healed properly, leaving with it a deep scar or thought pattern that was never mended.
When I cut my hair, the old wound decided to resurface. Maybe it wasn’t my nose this time, but it was still the same underlying belief that I was unworthy. I felt so insecure because I had been hiding behind my hair again and now that it was chopped off, I was revealed once more. Thoughts kept popping up into my mind, “would people still think I’m worthy?” “Am I still loved?” “Am I still considered beautiful?” These thoughts seem a bit silly to my now, but in the last few weeks I have been crying because I could not figure out the answers. And then I would analyze and re-analyze every single comment from someone, almost hoping to find some kind of confirmation that I really was ugly. That’s what we do when we are wounded. We look for reasons that confirm our negative beliefs. We don’t do it purposely because we are looking to deliberately hurt ourselves, but we do this because the mind is wired to look for reasons to confirm a belief, especially a negative one, so that it could trigger a sign of danger and make itself become defensive. And then we end up becoming defensive because of these reaffirmed beliefs and put up these walls to guard ourselves further from getting hurt, all the while not realizing that this act hinders our chances of healing the wound in the first place. It’s a cycle we put ourselves through subconsciously over and over again, until we can become consciously aware of it through awareness and eventually heal ourselves of this negative core belief.
Wow. That was a mouthful. But this is where I am at today. It took me a good few weeks of crying and feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve finally arrived thanks to God’s little wake up call. Today He allowed me to see the truth. He revealed to me that I was playing victim once again and catering to my negative thought patterns by purposely seeking out affirmations through others that I was indeed unworthy. He also revealed to me that I have been hiding behind that façade once more. That maybe it wasn’t hair and make-up, but it was definitely people pleasing and trying to mold myself into someone I was not just so I could feel valuable once more.
I’m learning through Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, that the only way to truly feel belonging is by accepting our true selves and allowing ourselves to be revealed to others through vulnerability.
She says, “When we can let go of what others think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness – the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness – that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging – lives inside of our story.”
This is the only way we can find true belonging. This is the only way we will ever truly feel like we are loved, if we allow people to see the real us and if we allow ourselves to be the real us. We need to stop “hustling” for our worthiness and realizing that we are perfectly wonderful just as we are. And if people really don’t like us for who we are, it is not our problem to try to convince them otherwise. The people who genuinely will love you will love you for you, just the way you are. You don’t need to perform or please or perfect or prove yourself in order to gain love. Love is something that should be given freely. And it should never be given after being proven worthy of it.
So I’ve vowed to stop trying. To stop performing. To stop perfecting. To stop pleasing. And to stop proving. I’ve decided to adopt the current life motto of I AM WONDERFUL and keep it at that. I know who I am. And the greatest gift and act of self-love I could ever give myself is to allow that privilege of simply being me. So what if I have short hair now? So what if my nose is bigger than average? So what if I’m not the hottest chick alive? I’m not perfect. I never will be. But I am me. And that’s all I could give. And if you like that already, then I’m pretty stoked.
I think that’s all we can ever really ask of anyone really. For them to just be themselves for us. Because in reality, that’s the only thing we should ever strive to be. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Indeed it is. Because the world is always asking us for more. And more isn’t always good in that case. Just being ourselves is wonderful enough.
So I encourage you, don’t try to be anyone else. Be you. Just as you are. If you have flaws, OWN them. Be proud of them even. I know it’s scary and it makes you feel vulnerable, but I’m finding that the more confidence you show, the more your value will shine. That’s what true value is. That’s what true beauty is. Owning ourselves and owning our stories.
The Self Love Challenge:
Be You. Own who you are (flaws and all) and realize that person is very wonderful, very beautiful, and very worthy.