Having a positive sense of self has never been a strength of mine. In fact, my introverted personality developed because of low self-esteem. While growing up and well into my twenties, I struggled with perfectionism, thinking that the way I looked, what I thought, and how I acted should be done in a certain way. And, in my mind, I always fell short. My low self-esteem negatively affected my relationships and how I perceived other people. I compared myself to celebrities, models, classmates, strangers; those who were thinner, smarter, prettier, wealthier; those who had toned arms, clear skin, fashionable clothes, and higher grades. I saw myself as “not good enough.”
It wasn’t until graduate school that I was exposed to a different way of thinking about myself. I became very interested in Ignatian and Holistic Spirituality. I recognized how perfectionism was holding me back, and I worked through the “shoulds” that I placed upon myself. I gained a greater sense of self-awareness and self-worth. My thesis focused on Jesus’ commandment to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. My eyes had been opened to the importance of self-love, and the impact of self-love on relationships. How we view ourselves has a direct correlation with the relationships that we form and maintain.
In the years following graduate school, I have tried to continue practices in self-love. I will admit that it isn’t always easy. I still struggle with moments, days, weeks of low self-esteem. But, I also work on new ways to love myself.
I share all of this with you – not because I’m fishing for pity or compliments – because it’s in our shared experiences that we can relate to one another. Low self-esteem is an epidemic, especially in our digital world. We compare ourselves to other people, and become envious of what we don’t have. Instead of embracing ourselves for who we are and how God made us (in God’s image), we wish, hope, and pray to change the unchangeable.
Today, I encourage you to change the way you think about yourself. I dare you break the habit of putting yourself down, and to make a habit of loving yourself. Once you see the positive side of who you are, you will begin to see a difference in your relationships too.
I like to be a woman of action, so I’ve designed a 21-Day Body Positive Challenge. For me, Day 1 starts today. What are you waiting for?
Sláinte! (with water, of course)