Posted in Acceptance, courage, Freedom, Healing Process, Inspiration, parenting, relationships, Strength and resilience

Not on my watch â€¦.

An area of weakness within my DNA and core of who I am is the tendency to believe that all people are good and they have your back. Time and time again I have found that not to be the case. We meet people along the path of life whether they be work colleagues, family or friends that can turn on you without warning. Way back in my younger days I was always worried about being liked. It held too much of a focus. I don’t think I was really aware at that age of how hard it can be to please and impress everyone. The need to keep everyone happy OR to be liked had me under a lot of pressure. It had me being someone I wasn’t at different times. I would have to go with the flow, speak as others speak, do as they say OR else be judged, be left behind, be hated OR ignored. I couldn’t stand the idea of others not liking me when I was young.

When you are young and trying to impress others or trying to keep the peace you hold back on who you really are. Others don’t get to know you as YOU. As my young self it felt like such a RISK to be me. FEAR kept me bound, it was about the risk of losing, the risk of failure which had my thoughts, opinions and words locked up inside of me. I would hide them with a smile. Little did others know how painful it really was to keep my mouth closed from speaking, holding in what I really thought about something, pretending to like it, pretending to be happy when I was in fact hurting, angry, sad etc.

As a 52 year old looking back on my young self always gives me clear answers as to how I managed to get into situations that were not good for me. It was always about fitting in, about not upsetting anyone and as mentioned before “going with the flow”. … Blending in, not being different, not having a voice, invisible, silent, careful, on edge, pretending, lonely and sad. In a way I was like a robot doing as others do or being as they wanted me to be. Holding onto the desperate need to please everyone I fought to stay on their good side. People liked me because I didn’t challenge them. I was easy to manipulate, control OR disregard.

The idea that people always have your back was smashed many times over in my life and even now I experience what people can be like. As we all do of course. We all have our experiences with people. Probably one of the most biggest challenges I have given myself since my life changed drastically in 2016 was to never stop being myself. It was about choosing not to be a people pleaser, not allowing myself opportunities to fall into any traps for others to control my life. As I have been there and done that. I paid the ultimate price back in 2016 when I walked away leaving 4 adult children behind. To this day I still cant quite comprehend how I did that, as my children have always been the love of my life. I can only say that it was desperation to save myself that kept me strong. The pain and heartache I went through during that period I wouldn’t even be able to describe unless you are someone that has gone through the same experience. The one thing that has kept me sane is the knowledge that had I not left I would probably not even be half of who I am today. I would have gone to the next level of serious mental health crisis.

Having been through the ultimate sacrifice as a mother I am unable to tolerate certain behaviours from others where once upon a time I would have just smiled and pretended I was ok with it. In my life now I don’t allow others to dictate who I should be. I won’t let anyone no matter who they are, to think they can treat me whichever way they like and think is OK.

Its not OK….

The older me is learning to say NO. I am learning to have boundaries I should have had years ago. I am also learning that as I have been setting boundaries there are people that don’t like me. I am facing the exact situation that I was trying to avoid as a young person. I can no longer please and impress people. I believe that if any person genuinely wants you in their life they will not push you away. If they truly like you then they won’t treat you poorly. I am learning to be OK with people not liking me.

When others don’t like me I remind myself of all the amazing people in my world that do like me and even love me. Having had healthy people in my life over the recent years as given me the opportunity to safely discover who I really am. The people that love me allow me to use my words, to speak my thoughts and share my opinions. They don’t get angry with me for opening up. They want to know how I am and what I think. They don’t treat me terribly. It’s a wonderful feeling to have safe people in my life. I hold onto the people in my life that have shown me they are there for the long haul. I thank them for allowing me to grow into who I am today 🙂

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Authentic You

To be authentic means to be an original rather than a copy of someone else. In a world bombarded with subtle and unattainable messages of what it takes to be accepted it can become all too easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be someone else. As a young person many decades ago I was striving hard to be noticed which meant that it was of utmost necessity to be seen wearing the latest trends in clothing, especially the correct style of Jeans! I can remember as though it was yesterday the intense desperation I felt to get my hands on a particular pair of branded jeans. Back then the branded jeans were very pricey $$$ as they are today, and the fact that the jeans were from a particular store made them very popular. I remember the moment and how I felt when I got home and put those jeans on, it was so cool and I was very excited to join all the other teenagers who were wearing these trendy jeans.

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The excitement was short lived once I decided that I didn’t look as good in those jeans as others did, my bum was too flat! All of a sudden I was so focused on the issue of body shape that I began to dislike these expensive jeans. Every time I put them on I was thinking about how ugly I looked in them. Somehow I had convinced myself that if I didn’t have the right shaped body then I was a reject and would not be as cool as all the other girls who were perfectly proportioned. The desire to have the right clothing and the body to go with it felt like a never ending marathon.

If it wasn’t clothing or body shape that spoiled my week then it was my hair! The teenage girl magazines to this day feature photos of young girls with amazing hair do’s. I would look through these types of magazines and imagine how I could get my hair to look as good. Occasionally I would pick a photo and take it to a hairdresser asking them for the same hairstyle that the model in the picture had. Each time I left the hairdressers feeling disappointed as it was apparent that the look that I saw in the magazine was completely different to the look that I saw in my bedroom mirror. If it wasn’t the 80’s spiral perm that failed me it was the flicky thing we did with our hair back in the day.

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One side of my hair flicked back perfectly while the other side was always temperamental and did everything BUT flick back. The obsession to fitting in and being accepted ruled my life and I would say that my struggle with ‘low self-esteem’ was of no help either.

When I think back to those younger days and my desperation of acceptance one can only imagine how much harder that would be in the current climate we live in. For this reason I am writing this particular blog in the hopes that I can remind individuals younger and older that we only need to be ourselves. To be someone we are not means that we can lose sight of who we are supposed to be. Changing to be like someone else is not limited to clothing or looks, this need to be like someone else can move into the area of our behaviour.

Individuals can end up so desperate for acceptance that they may even go so far as disowning their own values and begin behaving unlike themselves, believing they will be more accepted or popular. This only highlights the great need that humans have of being accepted.

Personally I believe that if acceptance requires you to throw out your true values then something is wrong, whether it is with a group of people or the acceptance of that one person.  Ultimately it is really difficult to continue living a certain way when you know deep down it isn’t really you.  Everyone needs to feel that they belong. If belonging to a group means you have to change who you are and all that you value it is worth looking at finding another group.

Guard your values and your own unique sense of self, whether that be your own personal style of dress or interesting personality. Anyone worth having in your life will accept you as YOU! Imagine a world in which young people or older felt comfortable and content in being authentic.

If we get distracted and focused on becoming someone else we tend to forget what we are good at and our own unique purpose in life. I can remember times in which I would be too consumed with the idea of who I wasn’t that it stopped me from trying anything. It was as though someone had come along and pushed the pause button on my life and everything just stood still with nowhere to go.

When I was at my worst with low self-esteem I used to think that it was only me suffering as it appeared everyone else was doing just fine! You would be surprised how many struggle with not feeling good enough or matching up to the other person we seem to fixate too. Of all the blogs that I have written so far since December 2015 the most views have been on the topic of ‘low self-esteem’. That tells me that there are many people around the globe who are feeling frustrated with themselves.

When you decide to live as the person you truly are in other words be ‘authentic’, it may mean that some people will not want to hang around anymore. I decided some time ago that I was not going to keep forcing relationships with people if it meant that I had to change who I was or the values I held. That can be difficult for someone who has felt rejection throughout their lifetime afterall who wants to feel left out. These are the choices we face to live authentic. Not everyone is going to applaud you when you live by your convictions and decide to do things differently to the rest of the crowd.

My own conviction is that as long as my heavenly father (God) is pleased with me then that is great. After all he made me in the first place and knows better than anyone what I was designed for and where I fit in the best.

All that we need to do is put our best efforts into what we are good at and the rest will work itself out along the way. Every person’s life is different including their purpose; while yours may look different it doesn’t mean there is no value in that. While there is an endless sea of people all around the globe I can guarantee that there is something unique about you. Start thinking about what that could be and then put that uniqueness to good use and you will find yourself getting more satisfied at being who you were made to be rather than wasting your precious energy on being someone you are not.

What is unique about you?

♥

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A prisoner in your own skin

When I was younger I remember watching a show called PRISONER. It was an Australian soap opera based around women inmates and their lives in prison. In Canada the same show was called CAGED WOMEN. In referencing this t.v soap opera I am not so much blogging about the story lines within the show, but rather drawing your attention to ‘prison life’, or more aptly put ‘caged women’.

There were many years that I felt as though I was living as a ‘caged woman’. Locked up within myself and unable to escape.

While I have never actually visited a prison I have seen enough on t.v and the movies to know that the environment is cold, isolating, frightening, harsh, restrictive and controlled (for obvious reasons) and volatile. I would assume that prisoners could perhaps feel claustrophobic, regretful; hate, mistrusting or perhaps feel nothing at all. Prisoners are kept in cells which are highly protected and monitored. Locked up behind bars! Prison is set up to keep criminals away from society. They are serving time for crimes committed. There are inmates that are serving time for the rest of their lives. Crime is just that, a crime! These prisoners have made choices and done crime which has resulted in them being judged before a court and sentenced to jail.

As a very ordinary young girl I had not committed any crimes however I lived as though I was locked up in a prison. There were areas of my heart that were locked up behind bars. While there were days that I dreamed about being free from this internal prison I just did not know how that was possible. For years it looked as though it was going to be a life sentence.

It isn’t a crime to struggle with low self-esteem, however there are a lot of similarities being a prisoner in your own skin to that of being an actual ‘prisoner’. There are days that feel very isolating and lonely. The environment of your heart and mind is filled with negativity and self-hatred. Thoughts overwhelm you such as; why am I so ugly, so shy, so unwanted, so rejected, so misunderstood, so hopeless, so helpless and on and on and on….. It is an ugly place…..A painful place…..

When you glance over at other people’s lives and then glance back at your own you believe the lie that they are all better than you and you are NOTHING.

As a prisoner in your own skin there is no need of a security guard to keep you locked up, you are the one that keeps yourself in there. In particular situations it is safer to stay locked up. You don’t want any visitors or interactions with anyone. Even though you are not a criminal you feel that no one is going to like you so why bother trying to make any friends as past experience has shown only rejection to be true, how could it be anything else?

It never crossed my mind as a young person that if I didn’t like myself then I was going to project that to others. It was a constant battle where one part of me wanted to be accepted and to have lots of friends and the other part of me would behave as though people would reject me so I unknowingly would set the scene for rejection before it had a chance to happen.  This obviously did not work in my favour it was too complex for me to understand so the cycle continued.

When you are broken on the inside the outside is broken too! It just works hand in hand. Without repairing the brokenness on the inside the outside will reflect what the inside is feeling.

Low self- esteem or hating one- self is almost like being put into solitary confinement. There is not much space to move around. You are confined as a person restricted inside your own heart. The only voices you are hearing are that of your own which are not very positive. While you may have the freedom to do as others do such as going to work and living life, on the inside you are not free to enjoy the experience.

You are not the criminal, low self-esteem  ‘the robber’  has entered in at some stage and  tricked you into believing that you are never going to be good enough or wanted in this lifetime.

The true criminal here is ‘low self- esteem’. My experience with this criminal is that when I allowed unforgiveness and hurts to stay in my heart I unknowlingly gave permission or entry for low self-esteem to be in charge of the keys to my freedom.

After I discovered that all I needed to do was let go of old hurts then I was able to take back those keys and unlock myself from this prison that had kept me confined and bound.

Although I had been released from this prison inside my own skin it has taken several years to truly understand what it is to be free to live as myself. Every step forward has given me more courage to live the freedom that was intended for me. It is not an overnight process. If you can imagine that someone who has been confined for such a long time is not going to just venture out and let loose once they are set free from a cage. There is a process to walk through and a mind and heart that need renewing.

We are not created to live as prisoners in our own skins. It does not need to be a life sentence; I thought it was my lot in life. Not the case! Once you realise the truth there is no turning back. There is no way I would ever want to go back and be held hostage by low-self -esteem.

My prayer and hope is that readers who identify this as their life right now would be brave and willing to let go of whatever it is that has hurt you and take back those keys of freedom for your own life!

 

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It Hurts to Hate Yourself

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!!!

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Why i started to Blog….

This is actually my very first post on my own blog page. No clue as to how this really works, however, I decided that it was time to write about the areas that I am really passionate about. My goal or purpose is to support and encourage everyday individuals who are struggling with poor self image or anything midlife related that may be causing havoc in their life and relationships. Having walked through both of these areas of turmoil it seems only right to share my experiences with anyone who is willing to listen and in need of someone they can relate to who understands what they are going through.

For the past three years I have been studying for a Bachelor in Psychology (part-time) and have been writing a book for girls of all ages. The book is all about my struggles and triumphs with low self esteem.

Blogging came about as I felt the need to start sharing snippets of truth and support now and not only when I have accomplished gaining a bachelor or have published a book.

While this struggle for me was decades ago no doubt those same struggles are experienced by many right now! Perhaps the opportunities are more frequent today. When  I was growing up there was no internet.

In today’s world there are many avenues that can bombard young girls with wrong impressions of what it is to be Beautiful. Social Media profiles of young girls today only highlight the wrong impressions presented which can lead young girls into selling themselves so short in their true value as a person.

Beauty is all about the status and health of your heart. When your heart is restored and whole it reflects true beauty on the outside which is of far more worth than anything superficial.  When you are broken and hurting it will always surface at some point. No amount of makeup, clothes or anything else you desperately rely on to feel beautiful is going to make the pain in your heart go away. It has to be dealt with from the inside first.

The heart is the foundation of a person, if the heart is hurting and broken then it is time to spend more energy and effort there rather than on anything external. Quick fixes do not last but when you get the foundation right then everything else will fall into place so much better.

Yours Sincerely, Anu Mari