Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In honor of Valentine's Day: Learning to love (myself)

Note: Karen C. L. Anderson is currently running a giveaway on her blog to win a trip to Green Mountain at Fox Run, and this is the essay she asked for as one of her "entry" options. I also thought that a post on the role of self-love in my life would be appropriate for Valentine's Day. 


I hear a lot of voices in my head about self-esteem.

There is the voice of my past, the voice that tells me I have to earn my self-esteem, and that it's not ever okay to stop trying to win other people's love and respect, but it's also not okay to brag or show off.  I think that message was unintentionally transmitted, but it still sunk in.

There is the sweeping "You Go Girl!" message that seems to be everywhere lately, that tells me I should always love myself, every minute, just for being me!!! It feels annoying and insincere. I want to honor and acknowledge all of my feelings, even those that tell me I have fallen short (if I really have). I don't want to be comforted for every passing feeling.  I don't want a ninth-place ribbon.  I want to learn from my mistakes and move forward. Even the cheeriest person on earth has her moments of self-doubt, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

At the same time, I read Vickie's post about The Dreadful PJs with horror.  I cringe at the post she linked from Munchberry's blog where Munchberry calls herself "oinkette." I don't agree with weight-loss tips that say you should post "fat" pictures on your fridge or buy a cookie jar that oinks when you open it.  Those tips may work for people with stronger self-images than me, but I know that if I talk to myself that way, I will believe it and treat myself accordingly.  Bring on the jumbo-sized bags of tortilla chips, and don't forget the queso! If I'm fat and ugly, I might as well eat.


I think the key is not trying to use rah-rah self-talk to bring me to a mushy love affair with me or harsh self-criticism designed to whip me into shape.  Karen put it beautifully in her post about lovingly parenting herself. "I am still proud of myself, and I also see that there is room for improvement." Her experience at Green Mountain Fox Run sounds like the perfect tutorial on self-care:


While there all my meals were prepared for me using wonderful whole foods that I love (I filled out a form and checked off foods I don’t like and if the chefs planned a meal with those foods, they prepared something special for me so I wasn’t forced to choose between eat food I don’t like or going hungry), and all meals were balanced according to sound nutritional guidelines. The food was delicious, filling, and satisfying in every way.
I ate every meal at a table with up to three other women. I ate at set times: breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at noon, snack time at 3:30 p.m., and dinner at 6 p.m. There was an hour set aside for each meal (and half an hour for a snack), so the schedule had a little wiggle room. If I showed up 15 minutes after the meal had begun, that was fine.

There was also healthy, fun activity included as part of the process., all in a beautiful environment.  I would love to win the trip to practice that kind of self-care.  I already have an idea of how a person with a healthy body image would feel and act, but I'd love a little head start.

For today, I'm going to wear my pretty red bra and try to live the way a confident, happy me would act. Have a happy day and be good to yourself.

2 comments:

  1. I never saw (and still don't) my fat as part of me.

    I saw it as a foreign object that was stuck on my body.

    So, it isn't a body image issue for me in the same way as it is for other people.

    It is (sort of) the same as looking at the clutter in the garage and I need to just get to it.

    I have always thought this difference might be in how long we were over weight, if we always saw ourselves as fat vs got fat in adulthood.

    And yes, I am sure you are right that it is closely tied to self esteem/confidence issues.

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  2. This is a very good post. I wrote more about it and it will pop up on Saturday.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07