Beating Low Self Esteem

I wrote about a couple of ways that helped me shift my perspective from being overly self-critical and self-deprecating, to accepting and loving of myself and finding the true beauty in my being. You can read about it here. Today, I wanted to open up and share a little bit more about my story.

I grew up in a very loving home. My parents are my rocks and biggest supporters. I love the close relationship I have with them and treasure it dearly. I have three older brothers, and an older sister. Due to the large age gap between me and my brothers, I predominately grew up with just my sister in the house since she and I are only 4.5 years apart.

Family picture

Unfortunately, I never had a close bond with my sister and most of my memories of her involve her bullying me, and making fun of me. Sure, teasing is part of the older sister role, but her words contained a deep penetrating sting to them. You see, my sister is on the taller side, brown hair, green eyes, tan, skinny (double zero skinny). Me? Well, growing up, I battled with my weight- I was always chubby. Im shorter, have freckles, and am built completely different (can we say child bearing hips?). Then theres my red hair (I love my hair, but it definitely made me stand out as a target for ridicule). I didnt think I looked like anyone else in my family, but none of this was really brought to my attention until the bullying started. My sister would claim I was adopted, and I never really thought she knew my name because for as long as I can remember, I was called Heifer. Nice, right? What else.. Oh! I was repeatedly told I was the devils spawn because of my red hair and that meant I was pure evil. To say the least, these comments took their toll on my self-esteem, self-worth, and completely skewed my perception of beauty.

I grew up thinking my sister was the epitome of beauty. I spent years thinking, If only I could be as small as my sister, then I could ___________. Fill in the blank with any of these choices: I could be happy, I could be pretty, I could be popular, I could have a boyfriend, I could stop the bullying, I could be loved by my sister, I could look more like my family, I could wear cuter clothes and stop shopping in the fat girls section (which, by the way, was severely devoid of cute clothes altogether)

It was as if I was on a quest for something that I couldnt tangibly reach. I was seeking fulfillment from things I thought mattered. In doing so, I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. All I needed to do was stop: stop comparing myself to my sister, to random strangers, anyone; stop judging myself; stop looking for answers everywhere except within myself. I needed to start the healing process towards self-acceptance and self-love. But, it took me a while to get to that point.

Enter: the beginning of my Paleo journey and my coach. Jason taught me, and continues to teach me a lot about psychology and the thought process behind choices, emotions, and perspective. Im not going to lie. Like many others that began eating Paleo, I did it initially for aesthetic purposes. Who doesnt want to look better? However, before I knew it, I was living a Paleo lifestyle for health reasons. For once, the focus and attention was off the cellulite I wanted gone from my body, or the number on the scale, or the image I wanted to peer back at me when I looked into the mirror. I was now fixated on healing my body, from the inside out, and being nurturing and kind to myself. You know why? Because I deserve it.

Some key things I have learned in the past two years:

I learned not to feed into negative energy. It is useless to give any attention to anything that may contribute to you feeling anything less than stellar.
I am not defined by my looks. Being overweight doesnt make me any less of a person, and being in perfect great shape will not equate to pure happiness and awakening(what the heck is perfect anyway? Lets rid this word from our vocabulary, shall we?)
Its all about soul; never lose heart. These words are tattooed on me for a reason. I learned how to keep an open, forgiving, loving heart. First forgiving and loving to myself, then to others.
When I stopped looking for ways to discredit myself, I found a myriad of opportunities to focus on all the great things about me. I found out that Im actually a pretty awesome person- when I get out of my own way! Who knew?
Beauty has many faces and bodies. It is not a one size fits all sort of thing. There is not one answer to the question, What is beautiful?
Also, I totally rock the red hair thing. Ive been compared to a lioness. That works out for me, ya know, because I love cats so much. Speaking of cats, here. You can thank me later.

So, in a very big nutshell, there you have it. How I beat my battle with the mirror. It was indeed a very long process to get to this point, but Im so glad Im here. There will always be more work to do. I dont think we are done working on ourselves until the day we die. However, Im ecstatic to check off loving all of myself on my list of things to do before I die. I hope this resonates with anyone that may come across this, and I also hope it inspires you to start down the road to acceptance and love.