Long time, no talk. I've missed you guys!
Today I'd like to talk self-image. I know, I know. But hear me out. I’m not just talking physically here, I mean you entire self. Your heart, your body, your mind. You.
Before I dive in, let me give you a quick back story on a corner of my upbringing (it’s relevant, promise): my Mom was a single mother most of my childhood, and for the first several years it was just my Mom, me, and my younger brother. She worked her butt off to provide the very best life she could for us, and most of the time that looked like making sure we didn’t go without anything the other kids did have. Most days she was exhausted, worn out, and yet still managed to spread this overwhelming love on us, every single day. All we ever saw was a gentle smile, breakfast in the morning and dinner on the table each night. My Mom is my hero.
Okay. Still with me? Good.
My Mom raised me in an environment where individuality and creativity were encouraged above everything else. It seemed almost nightly dinner would be served with a homemade batch of body positivity with some self-love for dessert. A safe place where I could try new things without feeling judged or embarrassed; she gave me the tools to constantly administer self-love and acceptance. I didn’t grow up insecure or ashamed of myself or body because she taught me not to be. As someone who has had severe depression and anxiety since I was a small child these are tools that I have been extremely grateful to have learned from her. Change was okay. Growing up or out or looking or feeling different than I did even yesterday was okay. Any time a lingering thought would present itself and negativity would try and grow, she’d squash it into oblivion with a comment like “Are you a damn fool? Look at yourself. Look at how beautiful you are. How will anyone be able to know your beauty if you won’t accept it yourself?” I was taught that different isn’t just acceptable it’s expected. This wasn’t always easy and definitely felt like I was swimming against the current sometimes, and yet I grew to not only understand what it means to love myself but to also enjoy that never ending process.
God made you by His design and in His image (check out Genesis 1:27). Now hear me out, if you struggle with self-image or insecurities this post is not to shame you or make you feel alone for having those thoughts. Rather, I am saying that whether you are a woman, man, wife, husband, friend, single, or in a relationship. You are beautiful. And even on the days that you don’t love yourself, God does. Always. He looks at what you consider imperfect, ugly, embarrassing, and He goes “I made that”. It is absolutely okay to have bad days. To get frustrated with insecurities or to feel self-conscious. Those feelings are what make you human. But let the authority of the Father and His never ending admiration and appreciation for every inch of you to condemn those thoughts. Let His view of you mold your own.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
If I learned anything from my Mom regarding self-image, it’s that self-image has a direct relationship with our hearts. When you love yourself, you are in turn able to extend that love to others. Self-acceptance doesn’t start with physicality, it is not defined by your physical being or what is reflected in the mirror. Self-acceptance is all inclusive: body, thought, heart, your quirks, your mistakes and your struggles. Accept that all of this is you, and it’s the only you that you’ve got. Go easy on yourself. I encourage you to love on yourself so that you can accept the love of those around you, and give genuine love in return.
This all starts on an individual level. Love and accept yourself. Accept that maybe perhaps what you have to offer and put into this world is of value. Not due to any comparisons to what someone else is doing, but because it is something only you can provide. That is worthy. That will always be of the utmost value. Our diversity is what keeps us evolving, growing, and persisting on. God didn’t create us all to be the same. There’s a reason we’re different.
You are so beautiful and strong amongst your imperfections, friend, not in spite of them. Allow the love you have for yourself to be stronger than your insecurities. No bad days, just you days. The fact of the matter is, you shine regardless of whether or not you’re feeling yourself today. You have a heavenly Father that created you just as you are, and in His image. That fact alone removes all doubt in the matter. YOU are ALWAYS shining.
You are unique, you are cherished, and you are loved. Some days this is hard to accept, believe me I know it, but even on those days it is still the truth.
Here are some helpful tips on overcoming the stormy days that I’ve stumbled on in the past that have really impacted me:
-sticky note it!
This is one of my favorites. Go to the mirror you use most and write encouraging and positive affirmations to yourself, so that whenever you are getting ready instead of letting negativity take over, you are forced to read and see (and remind yourself) of how beautiful you are! Inside and out. I find doing this in front of the mirror is a major game changer, as it forces me to confront myself straight on.
-get those gears going!
If there is something out there you love to do and feel you excel at (playing an instrument, photography, writing, videography, anything really!) do that thing! I kid you not; doing something that brings you joy, that brings you to a comfortable place of familiarity can boost so many endorphins guys. It’s that secret weapon in the corner that whispers “Hey! I got this! Look how good I am at this thing!”
-accept the good and the bad
Loving who you are entirely does not mean you think you’re perfect or flawless. Self-acceptance doesn’t mean perfection. It means just that: acceptance. God didn’t create us to be perfect, He created us in His image, which means we are exactly who we are supposed to be. Inside and out. Using that as the initial stepping stone into self-acceptance was essential for me! We are human and there are imperfections. Accept that you will fail, and you will make mistakes. And love yourself amongst those times as well. Even amongst your failures, God loves you. And He created you knowing that you will fail.
-embrace the compliments
I don’t know about you, but accepting compliments used to be one of the most awkward things for me. It had nothing to do with the person or the compliment and everything to do with me. I’d always find myself thinking, “That was so nice! Crap, now how do I respond? Thank you? I guess? Is that right or does that make me cocky?” Wrong and wrong again! You ARE worthy of compliments! Your thoughts are valuable, your opinion is appreciated, and your smile is contagious! Accepting those things when others see your spirit is absolutely okay and is actually healthy for you.
Let me know if any of these help or strike a chord in you, if you’ve tried them already before, or if you have suggestions of your own! And as always, I am just an email away and would love to talk, listen, or pray for you.