Recently I sat at our favourite ice cream shop in the city observing all the various groups of people and thinking about what they might be celebrating or what they may be going through in their lives. It has sort of evolved into a bit of a habit for me now that even my kids can tell when I am in that mode and ask me what I am looking at? Happily enjoying my ice cream I spotted a group of young females and males and noticed how attractive they all were and really well dressed.
Then my brain suddenly had a flash back of what it used to be like when I needed to get ready to go out somewhere. I remembered the utter frustration I would feel at trying to look good. It was the wonderful 80’s and you just had to have bigger hair basically anything that resembled a bird’s nest! For me that was my fringe. I would tease that thing till it was knotted up and then spray it with plenty of hairspray just to make sure my signature hairdo would not fall apart.
It was completely unthinkable to have a straight fringe let alone walk out of the house with one. After I had spent a considerable amount of time deciding what I should wear I would carefully select the ear rings that had to always match my outfits. I guess you would think I was a bit of a perfectionist. There was nothing wrong with making an effort to look good except it didn’t matter how long I took it didn’t change how I felt about myself. Even if I had professionals doing my hair and makeup I would still have felt undone.
The worst part about taking so long to get ready was the horrible mood that took over which made going out so undesirable. When you are going out there is of course the significant other who is also waiting and guys usually don’t like to be kept for two hours. Obviously if one was going out on a special occasion it may require more time to get ready yet for me it was just the everyday trips to the mall. Arrrrgh it was such a prison!!! I am most certain that even if by some chance I would have had all the latest and greatest clothes of that time I still would have been miserable with myself. Low self-esteem ruled me.
To deal with low self-esteem it requires firstly the desire to be free. Once you realise that you have a serious problem and it is ruling your life and your relationships then you can start looking at the areas in your heart that need healing in order to move forward from that place. It was not a one day process for me. It actually has been years of journeying through and dealing with issues on a regular basis. I can say today with a confident heart that as I started dealing with issues my inside life began to turn around. The lies that I had believed about myself were starting to lose their power over me. Hurts can take years to build up when they are not dealt with so the reality is it will take some time to work through them to let them go. Don’t beat yourself up if you can only manage one step forward. The very first step and the most important one I needed to take was one of ‘forgiveness’.
Does it really matter if you hate yourself?
During my younger days battling with low self -esteem I had no idea how damaging it was to hate myself. I was my own worst nightmare. Deep down I desperately wanted to be free but at the same time it was more comfortable and natural to live as damaged goods. I was not free in myself or with other people. Even one look by a complete stranger could set me off into complete self- consciousness and assumption that the reason they are looking at me is there is something wrong with me? While the truth was more likely that the person didn’t even see me they were possibly in their own world and happened to glance in my direction. Common sense flies out the window and everything negative has permission to stay. Your whole world gets wrapped up in how much you don’t like yourself and how much the world is out to get you because you are no good.
Hating yourself can damage your relationships or put you into damaging relationships. Recently I had a look into a diary that I had written around the age of 15 to 17 yrs. Such a pattern emerged page by page. The topic of boys was common and complete boredom with life. It was interesting reading through and seeing how much I relied on boys to feel satisfied however it only brought heartache. While there were the few boyfriends that were genuine they did not last. Then there were the random boys that came onto the scene who had no intention of anything more than what they were after and the sad part is I gave that to them as I had no self- worth or value in myself as a person. When you have no value as a person then your expectations are lowered opening the door for being used by boys that have no value in you either. Heart ache is strewn all over the pages of my diary!
When you hate yourself you are so consumed about yourself that life has no meaning. The boredom that was communicated in my diary on a daily basis was the lack of purpose I had in my life. Nothing satisfied me. As most other teenagers I did go to the movies, ice skating, friends places etc., yet nothing was truly satisfying. Outwardly I functioned like everyone else yet inwardly I was a complete disaster. There was no freedom in my heart and I was constantly dictated to by my beliefs.
When you think the worst about yourself you tend to think the worst about others. In the same way others pick up on your body language and read your self- hate and tend to stay away. Now that I am not ruled to live that way anymore it has given me so much more purpose. It has improved my ability to relate with others and even if there happens to be someone that does not like me I no longer take that on board and let it consume my every moment. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s OK as long as YOU LIKE YOU!!!
Are you satisfied with who you truly are and what personality you have been gifted with? Most of us if we are honest with ourselves would wish to be someone different. I wanted to be Kylie Minogue. She’s gorgeous, confident and people crowd around her in awe. The true reason I wanted to be like her was because she has an outgoing personality. Whereas I am by nature an introvert.
For instance in school, particularly high school the need for acceptance took on another level of importance and priority. Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by teenagers searching for an identity within the various groups. We’ve all watched mean girls hehe and we can recognise the different cliques, the popular and not so popular, the athletic and the straight A’s and our worst nightmare, the rebels. Throughout high school I tended to fit into the not so popular group.
With poor self-esteem hanging on my back I was always described as the shy and quiet girl in all of my reports. When other kids poked fun at me I just withdrew into my shell in an attempt to hide. Being the center of attention was possibly the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Whenever I started comparing myself to the popular girls I felt even more defeated. These loud girls would monopolise all the attractive boys attention and seemed to emanate confidence. It was as though nothing bothered them and life was perfect. While that may have been the case with some of them it didn’t occur to me until I got older that even loud and seemingly confident people can be insecure.
When I was living through insecurity I was unable to be myself. The insecurity squashed my personality on a regular basis. I dealt with it by retreating inwardly with the purpose of keeping myself safe. This meant that I would shy away when asked to participate in class or group situations requiring me to speak in front of others. It also ensured that I would not go to the graduation as there was too much possibility of looking like the odd one out. Even though I am not the same person as I was when I was younger I am still a fairly quiet person. Being more on the quiet side is who I am and I don’t think I could ever be a loud person even if I tried. It would be exhausting for me! It took me years to figure out that it was OK to be a quiet personality type. If we were all loud imagine how noisy the world would be and if we were all quiet it would be too quiet.
If being accepted by others requires you to have to change who you truly are then it is not worth the friendship. Find friends that give you room to be yourself and most importantly embrace who you are! You were made with a purpose in mind that no one else can fulfill but you, so why would you want to be someone you are not. Focus on the strengths that you have instead of the weaknesses, and those strengths will develop to such a point that you won’t be so consumed by the areas that trip you up. Everyone has a place in this world 🙂
When I think about rehearsals the first thing that comes to mind is dance performances. As a kid I remember spending hours and hours in the backyard pretending to be a dancer. Even though I had never had dancing lessons it didn’t stop me from pretending, it was so much fun! When it comes to the new seasons of dancing or singing shows on t.v., I enjoy watching the dancing over the singing any day. I imagine how many hours and how much effort it must take to practice and put something like that together so that the performance is a success.
Individuals involved in the entertainment world know how much practice is needed to rehearse lines or dance moves. Individuals who play in a sports team have practice sessions weekly to improve their ability. As a child starts school they spend a lot of time practicing drawing and writing. When you really start to think about it we do a lot of rehearsing. There are wedding rehearsals, concert rehearsals and the list is endless… Rehearsing something over and over helps to perfect what you are learning. You get better at something over time. You may lack the skills in a particular area however after practicing you improve. Not everything is a positive rehearsal. So what happens when you begin rehearsing thoughts over and over in your mind about something negative? You get better at it! You may even start living that negative rehearsal out in your daily life. It becomes second nature and eventually you do not even have to think to be able to think it. It becomes automatic like driving a car.
As a teenager I had morning rehearsals every day when I was getting ready. I would stand in front of the mirror and say to myself ‘You are so Ugly’…… ‘No one likes you’….. It became automatic and believable over time. If anyone happened to pay me a compliment it was quickly ignored as all I believed was what I had rehearsed for so many years each and every single day. At the time I had no idea how destructive those rehearsal sessions were. It became such a part of my daily life that I did not recognise its damaging effects.
What do you rehearse each day? Is it positive or negative? Let me encourage you today to take some time to think about what you are thinking about. So that your life does not take on something destructive which essentially robs you of the freedom to be yourself and the freedom to enjoy the life that you have been given. Life is valuable and precious and so are you!
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a reaction as: the way someone acts or feels in response to something that happens or is said etc. We are designed to react to certain situations. It can be for our safety for instance in which you need to move fast to avoid sudden danger. We may react to a certain smell in food which alerts us into avoiding something that is no longer edible it is past its due date. Our bodies are designed to react.
What about when we react emotionally. It is normal to react in anger when someone mistreats you or abuses you. Sadness is healthy and normal when you are grieving for someone or something lost. Being Happy is an emotion to an experience that brings us Joy.
So what is an over-reaction?
There are times when we may over react. Over reaction was common for me when I was growing up as a teenager through to adulthood.
As an example; when I was going out with my fiancé back in the day we often did the usual shopping trip to the mall. Everything was fine when we walked in but everything was not fine when we walked out. As a girl battling with poor self-esteem there were certain situations that caused my emotions to escalate out of control. My fiancé and I would be wandering around the mall doing our thing and if his head even so much as slightly turned in the direction of an oncoming attractive female I would immediately assume he were completely smitten and over taken by this person. The thoughts would start to hit me like boulder sized lies… “Your fiancé thinks that girl is prettier than you because you are in fact ugly”… These thoughts would start to overwhelm my inner world. I found myself not being able to control those thoughts or those emotions that I felt it was as though they had power over me.
Once we got back in the car I would be in such a state of anguish unable to talk or even function in a normal state. My fiancé would ask “What’s wrong?” my response was always, “Nothing”. Later on that day or even maybe that week I would finally explode like a volcano erupting with the lava of hurt, pain and ugliness. This was not how I wanted to live. There was something much deeper in me that needed healing but at the time I didn’t have a clue what it was.
Sometimes our reactions to a situation don’t make sense. Poor self-esteem robs us of the freedom to be ourselves and has the potential to destroy our relationships. As I share my experience may it challenge you into realising that burying your true issues will only cause them to sit unnoticed until the next trigger comes along causing another eruption of emotions. While it may feel difficult to face issues that hurt I encourage you to consider how life would be if you were free from being controlled by low self-esteem.