Tuesday, February 1, 2011

loving myself

Candy Hearts: LoveI have a hard time loving myself. I don't know if it's from my upbringing or from something just inside me that is part of my personality. I just have a really tough time standing up and saying, YES I did that and IT'S GOOD. Or, even worse, YES THAT'S WHO I AM AND I AM GOOD. I think it was ingrained in me as a young tween, not to think too highly of yourself for risk of being taken down a peg by the mean girls, all too ready to pounce on someone who had any self-confidence.
(photo credit)

In 2011 I didn't make any resolutions, per se. I did, however, make a decision to try to quit so much self-hate talk. I want to allow myself to accept a compliment without giving an excuse or deflecting it with some criticism of myself. I want to notice the things that I do, and even the things that are just a part of me, and celebrate them - not in a narcissistic way but in a way that is joyous and can also share my gifts with other people. I want to think that people are going to benefit from what I have to offer (but I'm not there yet.) I need to quit thinking that people are just being polite even though they are secretly annoyed by me. (Why do I think that? Paranoid, anyone???)

I am participating in Willette's Joy of Love photography class. Naturally, it's supposed to focus on someone we love. Well, I love my husband and could really benefit from reconnecting with that romantic connection we share. But he hates getting his picture taken and hates even more having his picture posted online. I do love my kids but, frankly, I focus a lot of love on them all day, every day. At the risk of being totally narcissistic, I am going to focus on... me. Not in a "I rock and you need to know it" sort of way, but rather in a "I need to rediscover what other people see in me" sort of way. I need to quit comparing myself to what I'm not. I need to quit wishing that I could morph into someone who has different strengths than me. Instead, I want to uncover my own strengths that are hiding deep within me, cowering and hesitant to show themselves, all because of a silly fear that someone will criticize me.

That's the most difficult part: the criticism. I think I also need to get some thicker skin. If someone criticizes me, I guess it's okay to say, "Well, no, I don't agree with you." instead of putting all this validitiy on their opinion. So they don't like my cooking/writing/clothing choice/hairstyle/photography/parenting methods/etc. I need to quit taking everyone else's opinions as though they carry enough weight to affect my decisions.

I need to like myself. I need to see myself. I need to take myself less seriously. And that's what I'm going to try to do. It will defnitely be a journey, and I'm hoping that I can start listening to all of you who already tell me I'm loved.

Thank you for that.

Texan Mama


Aunt Crazy said...

This is hard for most women, I think. Loving ourselves for who we are. We feel like we need to be on the defense constantly awaiting someone's offense to step in. We really should try harder to listen to other's opinions but to stand up for what our opinions are. That can be done nicely without forcing one opinion on another. I think the first step is looking in the mirror and saying to yourself, "Texan Mama, you are beautiful in these ways (and list them), you are good at these things (and list them), you rock the universe in these ways (and list them), you are perfect in these ways (and list them)!" Confidence is hard to build, but you can do it. I think you are a great mom, even though we have different parenting styles, I think we would get along great. I think those difference can make a relationship stronger. I have friendships like that and it works because when I'm failing, I have a different perspective and a shoulder to lean on and vice versa. I think you take amazing photos and that makes me proud to see them when you share. It's so hard to be everything we need to be that we forget that we need to focus on what we want to be too.

Crystal said...

I think this is hard to do, too. I don't accept compliments very well...I have a horrible body image. I struggle even letting my hubby touch me for fear he'll think I'm fat...which is completely crazy. I too would like to get out of my own head...my own way. We need to figure out how to teach our younger generations how to love themselves w/o arrogance. This is a very insightful post...thanx for sharing it!

Gigi said...

Oh Gretchen! You have so touched a nerve! I think most (if not all) women have this issue and it's something we all need to work on.

You are an awesome person with so many strengths. You are someone that I admire in so many ways.

I'm glad you posted this because you've made me turn that mirror onto myself.


Anna See said...

I get this. xo

Gigi said...

AND (you knew I couldn't keep it short on a topic like this, didn't you?) those "judge-y" women in our lives? THEY are the reason we feel the way we do. We need to learn that their opinions DON'T COUNT and that the ones that do are from the people who love us for who we are.

Okay, I'll stand down now.

Sarah said...

Excellent! I attempted a project like this a fwe months back. I loved it while I was doing it, but life got crazy. There is nothing wrong with learning to love yourself through photography. It's not easy, but it's beautiful. Just like you :D

Michelle Saunderson said...

I totally understand this struggle. I didn't have to be a tween and be around mean girls, my family did it enough that it really affected my self esteem. I am trying to improve more all the time and it gets easier. Keep plugging along and take baby steps if you need to.

leslie@gleaninggrace said...

Once I again, I can totally identify! Your post today was one of several things I experienced that made me write my own post on the subject. Isn't it funny how that happens?
I hope you'll read it, because you sort of helped inspire it :-)

misssrobin said...

Let me share one important thing I learned in therapy. Instead of trying to go from "I suck" to "I rock" try allowing for the possibility. "Maybe I don't suck." They other way is often too big a jump. It's easy to say maybe I am cool. And once you get that into your head and heart, there will be a moment when you can believe you do.

Just a thought.

Wendy said...

Squeeee, Texas Mama. Just... squeeee. Good for you.

Recently I'm really noticing how age has narrowed my options. I'm realizing that with every day, doors close, avenues are blocked to me, opportunities are gone. If that I could live a hundred lives and do it differently every time. I would. I wouldn't change THIS life - but I would have a lot of fun playing with the options in other ones.

Part of realizing all of this, too, is understanding that IT'S OKAY. Example: it's okay that your photography is amazing, and mine is merely meant to illustrate experiences and isn't even that skillful. YOU are building a business and I'm just telling my friends what it's like to live in a different place - BOTH are great in their own ways. We're both doing something that the other couldn't do.

If I woke up in charge of five kids and married to a minister, I would run for the hills. My life story would be titled MOM IN HIDING, CHILDREN LIVE IN FILTH AS DAD TRIES TO FIGURE OUT WHAT A WASHING MACHINE IS. Every time I visit this blog and you're still here plugging away at it, I'm awed.

Jennifer said...

I think you're pretty awesome. I think every day you should get up, look in the mirror and say to yourself, "you alright" with some pizazz. Just give it a try and see how you feel afterward.