On Loving Yourself: How Do We Overcome Our Worst Beliefs About Ourselves?
We’re all faking it.
Sometimes just in the small things.
What we like to eat. What we like to wear. What books we like to read.
But sometimes we fake it in the bigger, important things, too.
Where we find our inspiration. How we feel about ourselves. How we feel about others.
Our passions. Our dreams. Our heartbreaks.
We put these things on display behind shiny, hard, plastic cases that we can hold in our hands.
They’re small, but the impact they can have on our whole identity and way of being is huge. We allow these smooth, perfect shells to define us and sometimes control our whole lives.
Who we talk to. What we say.
And most importantly, what we think of ourselves.
We log into spaces that reduce us—beautiful, insane, imperfect messes that we are—into small, emotionless, flawless squares.
We become less and less of who we truly are and more and more the words that we hope people are saying about us.
But the words that others say will never be enough to overcome the staggering emptiness that continues to grow and manifest in negative ways inside us.
The opinions and thoughts—no matter how positive or flattering—of others just can’t seem to overcome some of our own opinions and thoughts of ourselves.
Through comparison of these small squares that display our “perfect” existence, we find fault where there is none. We find discontent in a beautiful facade. We find resentment and envy and many ugly words with which we begin to define ourselves.
But we’re not in competition with anyone else but ourselves. What you can accomplish in life is based on your own potential, not that of anybody else.
We flatter and win the praise of many, but grow increasingly dissatisfied with the image we’re portraying.
We start to feel like imposters as we realize the package we’re trying to sell online doesn’t exist in reality. We are so busy trying to convince others of our worth when we should be learning why we are already inherently worthy, just by being human.
All of this isn’t to say that the opinions other people have of us aren’t genuine. But we’ve become so used to ourselves—how we look, how we sound—and so comfortable comparing our lives with those of strangers that we lose sight of ourselves and how amazing we truly can be.
Every day, we wake up, scroll through snapshots of lives that aren’t our own, and repeatedly convince ourselves that we will never measure up.
We’ll never be “acceptable” for society’s standards. As women, we place an insane amount of pressure on ourselves to strive for—and achieve—this seemingly perfect standard, no matter the cost.
And we aren’t happy when we feel we don’t reach it.
But here’s the thing: we’re already there.
We’re already good enough, and we don’t even know it. We’re striving for something that’s already been attained.
We don’t need to keep striving for perfect. We aren’t perfect, but we’re something even better: we’re human.
We’re so accustomed to the way we are, that day after day, we often fail to see our own potential. It takes someone else seeing it and speaking it out to us for us to consider that we might have something good going on.
But before we let ourselves believe that, we beat it down and drown out the compliment, the admiration, with a lie that says we won’t ever have what it takes to be successful, or beautiful, or wanted...or any myriad of other things that we desire as women.
"The things we hate about ourselves aren't more real than the things we like about ourselves." - Ellen Goodman
We shush any shred of praise and instead publish image after image of what we think others want to see, styled photographs of a life, in the hope that it will make us feel that contentment we so desperately want.
How do we overcome our worst beliefs about ourselves?
1. Be honest.
Accept the fact that you aren’t perfect and just move on. That’s blunt, but it’s also a lifesaver.
No one is perfect, so it’s not like you’re left out of some sort of secret club.
Your Pinterest recipe may never turn out right. Your career won’t always turn out exactly like you want it to. Your children won’t turn out to be perfect, either.
Shake off all the expectations you have for yourself and just live. It’s freeing, if you let it be.
2. Let go of false examples.
No one else has it all figured out either. We’ve all been imposters at some point, faking ideal lifestyles to appeal to others.
For what reason?
No one even knows. We’re trying to keep up with others who seem like they have it all, while those people are also trying to keep up with people they idolize.
It’s an endless parade of disingenuous exteriors, and no one wins.
In the end, we’re all the same imperfect messes.
3. Speak kindness.
What we say and think about ourselves become facts that we start to believe are true, even if they’re not.
So start today: when you notice something beautiful in yourself, speak it, write it down, and meditate on it.
"Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny."
- Chinese proverb
If you were able to believe something negative that wasn’t true, you can start believing something positive that is.
You’ve been down on yourself for so long. Now is the time to start accepting yourself and watching what beautiful things can happen.