Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stop hating yourself!

I've been thinking a lot about insecurity and lacking self-confidence. It saddens me when my friends don't see the value that I see in them. It saddens me to see women who hate themselves and make decisions based on their own lack of self-worth. Oftentimes in various groups on the line, I find the conversation centers around removing fears and insecurities, overthinking, or different types of encouragement because all these wonderful people lack self-confidence. I don't understand all of the self-doubt and the road blocks to accomplishments, because I rarely encounter them myself. I don't know exactly where I got my tenacity and absolute refusal to give in to the status quo and to buy whatever bullshit someone is trying to lay on me. But I do remember a time in my early 20s when I walked around feeling self-conscious and had tons of self-doubt and all the steps I took to remove those feelings and become the crazy confident person you know and love (or hate) today.

Of late, I have been asked on the regular what my secret is to being me, to refusing to give a shit about whatever the haters want to say, to my stubborn determination to be myself and love myself. So I pondered the questions and decided to write three steps to stop hating yourself. I am not saying this shit is easy, because it isn't. But I did it and I can guarantee you that if you do, you'll start to feel better about yourself and those around you.

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Stop complimenting others on their looks and stop accepting compliments based on your looks.

I feel like this one really pertains mostly to women in American culture, but maybe everyone needs a big dose of this. Have you ever had someone tell you that you look so thin or pretty as if it's the best thing you did that day? Do you know how stupid that is? Because, let me tell you, you ARE pretty and your body IS beautiful, but why are we talking about that? Unless you are talking to your coach about winning the Miss America pageant and what dress is gonna wow the judges, ain't no reason to be talking about looks. You know what's offensive AND damaging? Telling someone how thin that dress makes them. You know what's not offensive and damaging? Telling someone that the color really flatters their skin tone and brings out their eyes.

Now look, if you're in the fitting room with your mom or best friend or whatever, then BE HONEST! Don't lie if the dress is too short or the cut is all wrong. But otherwise, STOP TALKING ABOUT LOOKS!

From now on, when you want to tell someone he or she looks thin or good or whatever, stop. Instead, think of something the person has done with their MIND or BODY and compliment that. Did your friend recently graduate? Compliment that! Did your friend recently run a 5K? Compliment that. No more complimenting looks. And it's HARD, but you gotta do it. Do you know what's harder? When someone says, "Hey, that dress really makes you look thin," replying with, "Hey, I don't want you to talk about my weight." Yeah, that shit is HARD. Shutting down offensive compliments that are actually damaging is hard...because it requires you to go against the status quo and because most of the people talking to you aren't going to like you shutting them down. But you HAVE to do it. You cannot feel better just because you've stopped putting out damaging words. You have to stop letting them come down on you.

This is not just about compliments. I had a friend who used to weigh A LOT and she worked hard for several years to weigh less. We used to talk about it, because it was a BIG DEAL, and I was proud of her, and it was NORMAL conversation. After a while, it just turned shitty. It was clear that she was still extremely unhappy with her body, but worse, she seemed unhappy that I didn't care. What an affront I was to love ALL MY PARTS, even the rolly ones. She once made a comment about my fitness level and SHE WAS WRONG and it hurt. She viewed my body type as a sign of overall lack of health, which is not true. I had to stop engaging in weight conversation with her. It took some time of saying, "Mmm-hmm...so anyway," before the conversations largely stopped. But the attitude never really did and you know what? I'm not friends with her anymore. Which leads me to my next point.

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Stop being friends with people who hate themselves or can't fully love you.

If you surround yourself with people who think they are not smart enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not whatever enough...then you are inviting that into your life. I know, this might suck, because you probably love someone who really, really doesn't love him or herself. If you find conversations are always whining about not being something enough, then try to redirect the conversation. Try to reassure her. But if you have to CONSTANTLY reassure that person, then it's time to move on.

The thing is, the conversations you have affect who you are as well. If you're struggling with loving yourself and you're surrounded by people who don't full love themselves, then you're a fucking salmon fighting that damn current of self-hate and that shit is EXHAUSTING! What's even worse is spending time with people who don't fully love you, flaws and all.

Now, I know there is a cultural conversation about mothers and daughters, and I'm pretty much over it. If your mom is a total shit head to you, then you gotta lessen that time together. Seriously. However, beyond that, I think so many people are desperate to feel any kind of love that they allow toxic motherfuckers to stay in their lives. Do you know someone who always has something to say about your wardrobe or your makeup or your hair or WORSE, your personality!? Man, you gotta get rid of that person!

I feel like my 20s were spent hanging out with people who made me feel shitty and then weeding out the assholes. And I get it. I do. I have a temper, I'm fucking demanding, I like weird ass shit, and I will call you on your bullshit...even worse, I'm a pusher. If I believe you have more in you, then I will push you to achieve it. But the thing is, friendship is not a REQUIREMENT for life. I don't need friends to breathe. I need friends to enhance my life and give me support and make me feel less alone. So if someone is CONSTANTLY talking about my loud voice or how unstable I am, then that bitch has got to go! I do not have time to let someone else force me to question myself. Fuck no! (Don't think I didn't spend my 20s trying to change, 'cause I did.) I don't care if 12 MILLION people don't like me and only 5 do. I don't care about the "majority". All I care about is finding kindred spirits...and I have, so clearly, it works.

It will work for you too! I guarantee that if you cut out toxic motherfuckers who don't fully love you, then you will make room for awesome people. It will be amazing, as you start to change, how you will find wonderful people who want to build you up and don't think your "flaws" are a big deal...or don't even think they are flaws. When you find these people, you will be happier, loving yourself will be easier, and you both will enhance the lives of each other. It sounds like mythical, magical bullshit, but it's fucking true.

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Stop buying (fashion) magazines and stop watching tv with commercials.

I mean, this probably fucks up half your entertainment plans, but I am telling you...worse than every movie starring some skinny blonde and every reality show portraying bitches constantly fighting are COMMERCIALS and ADVERTISEMENTS! Do you know how many things you do because of advertising? You wash your hair more than once a week, it's because of advertising. Do you dye your hair? It's because of advertising. Do you have an engagement ring? Thank advertising. Have you ever had braces or used a teeth whitener? Advertising. Fucking red velvet cake is because of advertising! EVERYTHING in American culture is advertising...EVERY HOLIDAY, every single one, perpetuated because of advertising. Shaving your body hair is because of a marketing campaign. Advertising perpetuates fear and the belief that you need to change yourself. If you watch primetime tv, it is all about cleaning products, cars, weight loss, makeup, and clothing. Bitch, you do not need another dress! (I mean, unless you're my bridesmaid.)

The thing is, if you're watching tv and reading magazines, you're just inundated ALL THE TIME with everything you need to change about yourself...everything you need to buy...all the people who do not look like you and whom you will never look like. It doesn't feel like it, but you are literally BOMBARDED all day, every day, with advertisers telling you to buy something and that you NEED it because who you are right now IS NOT RIGHT. Shut those fuckers down. You are perfectly right! You don't need white or straight teeth and you don't need to scrub the shit out of yourself every fucking day. (No really, it's science.) You don't need to buy something and you don't need to change your physical appearance with beauty products. Promise. Even your bacne is not damaging to your overall health!

Watching tv with commercials and reading magazines is like inviting assholes who don't love you into your home. Why would you do that? If I knocked on your door and started by saying, "GIRL, let me tell you exactly what you need to change," you would slam that door in my face. But you let advertisers do that all the time! Cut that baggage and stop wasting that money. Go read a damn book instead. Or just watch shit on Netflix.

This applies to bloggers as well. Go through your blog roll and cut out 50% of the bloggers who are thin, white, blonde, have a ton of sponsored posts, write about fitness, and write about "healthy" eating. 50% of them NEED TO GO. You don't need that in your life, because it's like subliminal or something. You feel like you're enjoying yourself, but you're just shoveling bullshit right into your mind. CUT THAT SHIT OUT.

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I'm not gonna tell you to have fucking mantras or anything, although they do work, honestly. I would never do that shit, so I can't really advise you to do it. But everything I listed above, I did it. Let me tell you an anecdote to end this blog post...

When I moved to Florida years ago, I wanted to make new friends, so I went right out in the swing dancing scene. I really thought this would just guarantee me an almost immediate social circle. Oooh, but I walked into a pit of snakes! What I didn't know is that the VERY SMALL scene had known each other for ten years. They had dated each other and broken up with each other and cheated on each other and pissed off each other and oh man. It was like the worst version of an 80s teen movie.

As I tried to get to know people, none of whom were interested in being my friend, it was just gossip on top of gossip. It sucked. I couldn't even figure out who I wanted to befriend because I'd already heard really shitty stories about them. So, I decided to shut that shit down. After I realized the situation, I started shutting down the gossip. When someone tried to tell my someone's dirty laundry, I would just say, "You know, I wasn't there, so I can't speak to that," or, "My experience has been the opposite of that and I really enjoy him". It was somewhat awkward because some conversations just sort of ended in the middle. It was somewhat alienating because all these people who didn't really want to be my friend anyway, certainly didn't want to be friends with someone who wouldn't indulge their bad behavior. But I did affect change.

There was one person in the scene who became friends with me, and it's not really a surprise that she was also a newcomer to the scene. After about six months, she and I were standing on the edge of the dance crowd, surveying the crowd. She said to me, "Look, no one is talking about each other now. You did that." It was true. My refusal to entertain the gossip meant it stopped. Since I didn't want to listen to it, no one brought it up. Since I didn't want to pass it on, it had nowhere to go. The scene was still cliquey and unfriendly, but they were far less vicious.

My point : If you stop engaging in destructive behaviors, then you remove them from your environment as well.

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What I'm saying is, you can affect change. You can make small changes in your life and they will grow into a larger change. You might not even realize how these things are impacting your life. So maybe just sit back and watch a bit and see what happens. And then do stuff and get happier and come back and tell me about how fucking awesome you are...because you are awesome, I know it. I see it in you, I do.

2 comments:

  1. Fucking amaazing! You are so right! But you are quite unique, so I don't know how many people- women can do this. Now I don't hate myself, and for the most part I've embraced my imperfections, but I'm still going to dye my roots and put makeup on. I completely agree with the advertising! It gets me all the time! Again, you are like a unicorn. Not many people can resist advertising or caring about certain things.

    Though, I think most people can really drop all the toxic people from their lives and learn to love themselves. It does take work and practice, like you said.

    Jess L

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    1. Thank you girl!

      Since I've written this, I've started to think about all the other things I do. I think I'm gonna write a series of posts on this. Maybe you're right, maybe this is too difficult for everyone. But maybe if someone even started to do one or two things that I do, then I'd have more friends with more confidence. I don't know, but it's worth writing about!

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