I am going to be honest, I am not the type of person to ever speak about things I am ashamed of, lets be honest no-one really likes putting themselves out there and exposing their weaknesses. The purpose of putting myself out there today “and taking one for the team” is that I could maybe help someone who has gone/or is going through the same thing.
I remember a day (in my ripe sensitive teen years), over-hearing one of my girl friends say to another (talking about me) “She is not that pretty at all the only thing that makes her pretty is her hair”. Just to put this situation into “perspective”. I have spent a pretty shitty childhood, and teen life, trying to fit in, and be a part of something. It seems to have always been a real struggle for me. Hearing this girl say what she said, and it having the effect that it did, was a result of my (then) perceived reality. The reality that my worthyness, was determined by other peoples opinion of me. By fitting in I was avoiding feeling shame of rejection. My plan had inevitably backfired, as I was knee deep in a shame-shitstorm.
I look back now and see my life was riddled by incidences like above mentioned. Another incident. I was lucky enough to be a part of the very first Survivor South Africa series and it just started airing. I was shopping at a store and a girl and her friends standing next to me, looked at me and said: “Shes not that pretty at all”. I felt so dissapointed in myself and ashamed. I did not know the girl, I did not understand what was going on at the time, and all I could do is embrace the shame-shitstorm in my head yet again. The re-itteration that I was just not good enough was always there. I had mind convo’s with myself like this: “who do you think you are”? Why did you think you could do that, put yourself like that and be fine? Who do you think you are?
Something no one really knows about me is that I have always been VERY self concious, the feeling of not being enough has always been a demon following me everywhere, I used to bully myself emotionally. Just me and the constant shame and fear of not being enough. I was on auto-pilot to self distruct. How scary is it, that one can live that way without even knowing?
I used various tools to try and feel like I was enough, tried to compensate for all I was lacking. I felt that I would be good enough if I loose weight, try to be skinnier, try to be prettier, try to please people more, try to dress nicer, always tried to be “better than (insert name)” etc. I was somehow convinced if I have more money, more fame, more power etc I would fit in and would be good enough. My life choices was based around what others would think and if they would accepted me. I relied on other people’s opinion of me to make me feel like I was “valid” but it never worked. I formed coping mechanisms like having a tough “don’t f*ck with me” exterior and attetude. I pushed people away. I had my walls up and I missed out on so many life experiences because of this.
I was tired of fighting for worthyness and belonging and living in the fear of rejection and shame. I was looking for connection, authenticity, being real, experiencing other people being part of things that really mattered. I am not nearly close to where I want to be, but I have come a long way. I would like to share a couple of things which have made my life better and a couple of teachings which has improved my life dramatically. I know somewhere out there there are people who fight the battle just like me so here we go.
Not the kind that that you need to go sky diving, or bungy jumping (thats bravery don’t confuse the two). I’m talking courage to be imperfect, to know that you are imperfect and to embrace and accept it. Perfectionism is a unachievable goal because it can’t be measured. Ever. Perfect to me is not perfect to you thus can’t be reached.
Let go of what other people think of you. You have to show up and let yourself be seen. You have no control over what people think of you and it doesn’t form you who you are. There is something extremely liberating when you get this right. It takes practice, a lot of practice
Be Kind to Yourself
Imagine if we had to talk to others the way we sometimes talk to ourselves. We can be so cruel to ourselves. I sometimes have to picture myself a little girl again and visualise that I am talking to that little girl. Every time I think something like “how could you be so dumb”, “you look so ugly today” “You are really getting fat” I am talking to that little girl.
You cannot be kind and practice compassion for others if you don’t start with yourself first. You can only fit in, and belong, if have accepted yourself for who you are.
Be Yourself – Un-ashamedly
There is a profound power in presenting yourself, authentically to the world, knowing you are not perfect but you are ok with it. Its hard to feel shame if you present yourself in your (already self accepted state) and you are not accepted. There might be other feelings, disspointment maybe, but shame, no. You are not for everyone, thats OK. Don’t betray yourself and set yourself up for failure by being anything else but who you authentically are.
An authenticity mantra I read in a great book called “The Power of Vounerability” which I apply in my own life is this:
“Don’t Shrink, Don’t Puff Up, Stand your Sacred Ground”
“Don’t shrink” – don’t try to become smaller or invisible or crawl into a hole.
“Don’t puff up” – you don’t have to try to be something that you are not, or pretend that you are better that anyone else.
“Stand your sacred ground” means that you are good enough just the way you are and you don’t have to compromise that.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I have had many instances where I woke up feeling great, or where I have achieved something amazing and should have been proud and enjoyed the feeling of acomplishment. Instead of enjoying and “experiencing” the great feelings, I compared it to someone else’s accomplishments, or compared how I look that day with how someone else looks. Let go of comparing yourself to others. This counts for your work, family, partners, financial situation, how you look, the list goes on. There will ALWAYS be someone better, richer, skinnier, smarter, more intelegent than you. Deal with it, and start enjoying the things you DO have. If you take enough time to look around there are plenty of people looking at what you have and wishing they had that too. Comparison is the thief of joy.
Lastly, Be Grateful
We hear it, it sounds good on paper but being grateful is not something you just do, its something you practice. When you get challenged and put in a position of feeling that you don’t have enough, the fear of scarcity (which is the plague of our century) make a concious decision to focus on something you have and feel, truly feel grateful for that one thing. This is a life-changing habit which will transform your life as well. The more you practice gratetude, the more you accept and enjoy what you have and who you are.