This week has been super crazy with work and school and my boyfriend visiting and I forgot to post this guest post by the lovely Molly Shaffer. So I’ll step aside and let her take over the blog today.
For over three decades, I’ve struggled with self-hate. So much so that I couldn’t stand to see the woman staring back at me in the mirror. The world said I had to change in order to be beautiful. My face, without makeup, was not beautiful. The stretch marks that etched across my body were not beautiful. The cellulite, pimples, smile lines, and God knows how many other countless flaws, were not beautiful. In fact, there was nothing redeeming about me, and beautiful was a word meant for other people, not someone as broken as me. Lies!
This past year, the infamous 2016, was my year of self-growth. My New Year’s Resolution was different from my past ones, the ones where a number defined my life. In 2016, I made the resolution to become healthy: mind, body, and soul. Little did I know that uttering those words would send me on the most gut-wrenching journey of my life. A year of pain, growth, and ultimately, the beginnings of self-love…truly, honestly, lasting self-love.
How did I do it? How did I go from an inability to stare at my own reflection to becoming my own champion? Faith, quiet time, and most importantly, banishing the negative thoughts that were at war in my head. It took a lifetime to hate myself, and a year to come to peace, but it will take a daily commitment to choose love, in order to make lasting changes in my life. This is how you begin the process. This is where change resides. Not in a miracle pill or fad diet, but in rewiring your brain. Realizing that weight is truly just a number, but health runs much deeper than beauty ever will.
Step 1: Recognize the lies
One morning, I woke up ready to start a brand new day. I had a song in my head and a smile on my lips, but one step in front of the mirror, and my entire mood changed. Like a light switch turning off in my head, I felt the negativity creep in. My hair was in disarray, and my mascara smeared under my eyes, creating dark circles that would make a raccoon envious. I sat at my vanity, my head in my hands, and I cried. What happened to that strong woman from a second ago? Where did the warriorNowherewhere. She was inside me at that very moment. I had silenced her with a lie.
I picked up my head, and forced myself to look in the mirror. My eyes watered, but I refused to look away. I stared until my face blurred, and I ignored the menacing voice in my head…the liar. Slowly, ever so slowly, I began to make out an image. A cute button nose and full lips. Finally, a positive thought. I liked my nose and my lips. I ran with these thoughts, and as soon as the liar emerged once again, I had a weapon. Sure my eyebrows need to be shaped, but have you seen my nose. Damn, that’s a good nose. I took that first step, which lead to two more, and then, I was running.
Step 2: Find a Mantra
The negativity had defined me for far too long. The time had come to find my life quote…the one I could use to defeat the enemy…my war cry. I read through scripture until I came across the verse that spoke to my soul. Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ.” I had read this verse many times before, but for some reason it held a new meaning for me. I can do anything. Anything. Give up the bad habits. Strengthen my body and soul. Heck, I could even love myself. Why not? My life verse echoed…all things. The key word being all. I can do this. I will do this.
You may not be religious, and that is okay. Find your life verse. The verse that clings to you, or better yet, the verse you cling to. You’re going to need it, because the liar is strong in you. You’re going to need a mantra to defeat that cycle of abuse. Find your verse, memorize it, and repeat it until it sticks. Over and over again, like a song on repeat. You can do this.
Step 3: Phone a Friend
I have an accountability partner. Her name is Jessica, and she is my sister from a different mister. There are moments that I feel we are the same person in different bodies. Kindred souls thousands of miles apart. It’s kind of freaky how well we mesh. The best part, I can be real with this woman, and she doesn’t judge me. She pours truth into my life, refuses to sugar coat my failures, or accept my excuses. She isn’t harsh in her redirections. I don’t need a drill sergeant. I need a friend. Someone I can cry out to and laugh with. Jessica is that friend to me.
My journey will not work if I try it alone. I can talk myself into some stupid mistakes. “Go ahead, girl, you deserve a slice of that chocolate cake…no, you deserve the whole cake.” So, before I make a bad choice, I text Jessica. She either affirms my madness, or gently redirects me. Find your Jessica. She’s out there.
Step 4: Give Yourself Grace
You’re going to screw up. It’s inevitable. The best thing you can do when you muck everything up, is to realize you haven’t really mucked everything up. Stand up, dust off your bum, and get back on course. So you failed: who cares? That’s part of the process. Don’t slit your other three tires because you have a flat (I love that analogy). Give yourself the same grace you would give to your best friend, because after all, you need to begin seeing yourself as your best friend.
Step 5: Perfect isn’t Real
For most of my life, I sought perfection, until recently. I read this amazing book, Present Over Perfect, and I had an epiphany. Perfect is cold. Perfect is plastic. Perfect isn’t real. I want warm, comfortable, snuggly, and sometimes that comes with messy, flawed, and blemished…and that’s okay.
The price I paid for perfection is profuse. I spent countless hours inspecting my physique, holding myself to severe standards, and beating myself up when I didn’t reach the unattainable. Sound familiar? It’s the anthem of our world. Kill yourself so others will love you. Well, I say, love yourself and kill the negativity. Once you can see the lies you’ve believed about yourself are just that…lies…you can begin to speak truth into your soul. That’s where real transformation begins, and I’m here to tell you, life on the other side is great!
If you’d like to read more about my journey to self-love, visit my website: www.mollyshaffer.com. I’ll be the one with the love of words. The messy chick with a crooked grin. But guess what, I’ll be the one smiling!