The thought came, clear as day. “If you looked like that, then maybe.”
Then maybe….what? Then maybe, anything is possible? Then maybe…I’ll be happy?! The thought was a subtle yet loud whisper within my own head, projecting deep-rooted insecurities pretending to be the final piece in the puzzle to solve all of my problems forevermore.
Because with hair like that, isn’t happiness guaranteed? With dewy skin or smaller thighs or better proportions or longer lashes or tighter abs, life’s a freaking dream with all the rainbows and butterflies and unicorns attached.
We often buy into this messaging, not only from our own thoughts but from the help of a society that sometimes celebrates this messaging as we’re bombarded with tales of what could, would, might make us happier if only we did, tried, bought the thing.
It’s taken a lot of work to acknowledge I have an inner voice that sometimes blurts out the silliest ultimatums and most ridiculous of observations to myself, about myself. Even now, approaching thirty-five years of life, with a family and other sources of happiness in my life—these thoughts can still show up at the most random moments in my life and almost gut me on the spot. I’m realizing these sorts of insecurities within my own thoughts will probably always be there, in some way, shape, or form. And I’m learning the secret sauce to overcoming criticism from myself is all about how I acknowledge these thoughts and how I choose to respond to them.
I’m learning the secret sauce to overcoming criticism from myself is all about how I acknowledge these thoughts and how I choose to respond to them.
A Few Tips That Have Helped Me Get Here
1. Thank your body for just showing up—I’ve noticed that thanking my body and mind each and every day for showing up goes a long way. As I say my prayers, as I let my thoughts run wild, as I look at myself in the mirror—I work to acknowledge how much my body and mind do for me each and every day and recite back to myself my gratitude.
2. Make a list—Write down the things your body and mind have done for you or are doing for you right now. When I physically see in print things like—I’ve carried and birthed five babies, I’ve graduated with a degree in dance from Juilliard, I’ve functioned on like, four hours of sleep most nights over the past eight years (babies and toddlers, bless you), and a million other things I am sure your body has done for you. It really helps put things in perspective.
3. Say something you admire about yourself in front of your kids—We Mamas often don’t want to make it about ourselves because we want it to be about them! But as our children’s first teachers, we hold a lot of power to help our kids foster a positive relationship between themselves and their bodies. And by acknowledging the things we love about ourselves out loud in front of them, we model positive behavior that they will naturally mimic.
4. Move your body—I’m not a runner, and I don’t think I’ll ever be a runner. Plus, I feel so intimidated in a gym setting; it’s been years since I went inside one. But nothing clears my mind more than movement. Going for a short walk, dancing with my kids in the living room, ten jumping jacks to the Hamilton soundtrack in the kitchen as we make dinner together, any type of physical movement has a proven success record I can’t deny. And nothing helps shift my mental space from feeling anxious to feeling calm than breaking a sweat.
5. Smile—And not just at others but when you pass yourself in the mirror and have a split second to rip yourself apart because you are your toughest critic and wanna analyze the weird fit of your shirt or the lack of definition in your arms. Nope! Instead, find your eyes and smile big. You’re carrying so much, you’re accomplished and smart and beautiful, and you know all this deep down, but hey. Remind yourself of this truth with a smile every single day.
We have the choice to let the little whispers fester or to set them aside and gain control of this wonderful life we live. Time will pass regardless, and there’s too much life to still live without those whispers robbing us of that.