What would you do if your daughter told you she was ugly? Or if your best friend told you she was dumb? Or even if someone you just met told you that they couldn't participate in a certain sport because they weren't strong or competent enough? You'd probably tell them how wrong they were and go on to list the reasons why they were beautiful, smart or strong. You'd try to lift their spirits, their self-confidence and tell them how incredible they are just being them. So then why do we tell these lies to ourselves?
I know you've been there. Staring at your reflection in the mirror wishing for someone else's arms, legs, abs, buns. Criticizing the body staring back at you. Or maybe, you're crying behind closed doors over something someone else said about how dumb your idea is or how you could never do "xyz". And you wonder if maybe, just maybe, they're right.
If you wouldn't let your daughter, your best friend or even perfect strangers think that terribly of themselves, why would you let yourself think those things about YOU?! The world, TV and magazines, are so quick to knock you down and make you feel inadequate. Choose not to let it be that way! Celebrate the strong, smart, beautiful, kind, loving woman you are and celebrate those women and girls around you who are that way!
Truth is your mind is incredibly powerful. It can make you think, believe and act on the most incredible things. You've heard the stories before of the mom who changes things at her child's school because things were not "right". Or the woman who presses for legislative change because she knows she's just as talented and smart as her peers. Or the woman who couldn’t lose the weight for years and now competes in triathlons or fitness competitions. By repeating positive or negative statements about ourselves, over time, we start to believe them as truths.
Think about the woman who walks into a party or store and immediately exudes self-confidence. We all know of someone like that. They stand tall, facing the world head on. They’re comfortable in their bodies, speak intelligently, and seem capable of achieving anything. Do you really think they’re like that ALL the time?! Of course not! They have their moments of doubt, of self-judgment. They see flaws in themselves. The difference, they don’t dwell on them. They decide, they make the choice, to celebrate the beauty, intelligence and strength they see in themselves. Sometimes it’s harder to see than other times, but that doesn’t mean its not there! They press on. They tell themselves they can do it! Then they chart a path forward, sometimes a different path, with difficult choices. They refuse to let anyone else, or worse themselves, hold them back from being the beautiful, strong, smart woman God made them to be!
I saw a woman running this week with arms and shoulders that were toned and defined. I wanted to roll down my window and yell to her, “You go girl!” I wish I had. I also saw another woman swimming laps with the most perfect freestyle, breaststroke and butterfly that I’ve seen in a long time. She cut through the water with such ease. I couldn’t help but stand back and marvel at how easy she made swimming look. I made it a point to tell her what a great swimmer she was afterward. How just watching her swim, made me elevate my swim. I could have chosen to wish after the bodies and technique these women had. I could have degraded my body for not looking like theirs or told myself that I’d never be able to swim with such skill. Instead, I chose to celebrate the effort those women put into what they did, thank them for inspiring me to put more effort into my workouts and toward becoming a better swimmer.
My favorite quote from the movie The Help is when the maid is talking to the little girl she had been looking after and she tells her to repeat after her “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” It was such a telling moment. That little girl didn’t understand what she was repeating. But the maid did. She knew that if that little girl told herself those things over and over, even if she didn’t believe it or someone else told her something different, with time, she would act and carry herself as though they were true, eventually making them so.
My hope, for all my clients and especially for my daughters, is that they would look at the reflection they see in the mirror and tell themselves, “I am strong. I am smart. I am beautiful.” And then eventually that they would believe it!