Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your Life Raft in the Waters of Criticism

It’s easy to get swept up in the swirl of the world. You go to school or work and you see and hear things that make you feel inadequate. There are a lot of things out there that influence us, whether we like it or not. And in a lot of ways, it can be a good thing. Many of us have friends we have a great time with, family we love and care about, and things we enjoy doing, watching, or reading. And that’s okay.

But when you already feel a certain way and suddenly you can feel that something around you is pulling you to feel another way, you need to stop and think for a minute. A minute is all it takes. You’ve heard the advice: “Go with your first instinct.” Well, in this case, you usually should. If something you see or hear or read makes you second guess how you FEEL about yourself, it’s best to examine it.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s great when we see or hear or read something that makes us question our thoughts or our knowledge about something. It’s good to be open to other opinions, possibilities, and viewpoints. We can learn a lot by paying attention to the world around us. Just don’t let something make you feel like less of a person if you didn’t feel that way before.

If your peers are telling you something negative (that you’re fat, ugly, etc.) or worse—if your friends (which is questionable to say the least) are saying things that make you feel bad about the way you look—don’t let them bring you down to a place where you want to change to please them. Working to please others or to make others like you is no way to live and is, frankly, a recipe for disaster. At the end of the day, all you have is YOU.

Not all criticism is constructive.

Appreciating yourself is your life raft in the waters of criticism.

For girls and women, especially, life can become a competition. You want to be pretty, you want to be smart, you want to be thin. You want to make sure you are as good as everyone around you. Sometimes it can feel hard to measure up. Sometimes the people you’re trying to measure up against TELL you that you aren’t good enough in some way. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not thin enough. Your clothes aren’t nice enough. Your haircut isn’t cute enough. The list can be never-ending.

You’ll never be able to please everyone. And you’ll never be able to hold yourself above the water if you let other people pull you under. And drowning is a horrible way to die.

Really, it’s all about survival. You can’t let people--or things you see, hear, or read--get the better of you. If you read in a magazine that being a certain size makes you somehow less appealing to the world at large, but you felt okay about your size before you read it, listen to your first instinct—that you are fine the way you are. Don’t buy into the negative pull. If your friends, school peers, co-workers, and/or family say something that makes you feel negatively about yourself, just remember that what they say doesn’t determine what you are. And for everyone who says something that makes you feel badly, there are just as many people who see you as great in a lot ways.

If you see an ad on TV and it makes you wonder if you should try to change yourself in some way, don’t let something you see for two minutes on TV influence you into thinking you’d be better off looking different. You have your own mind; use it.

Appreciating yourself is your life raft in the waters of criticism.

You write your own story. You can change anything you want. And you can add a new chapter whenever you feel like it. You don’t need something external or someone you know telling you what and how to change. All throughout your life, people are going to offer their opinions whether you like it or not. Sometimes a person’s opinion will help you…and sometimes it will hurt you. It’s up to you to learn the difference. There are a lot of things out there that can help us…and there are just as many things that can hinder us. A minute of thought can make a world of difference when it comes to deciding whether or not to think negatively about yourself.

When it comes right down to it, no one else anywhere is YOU. You are the only you. There’s no one out there like you. So you can’t go wrong looking the way you do. You can’t go wrong being what you are. You are you and that is the way you were meant to be. It’s okay and natural to feel unsure about the way you look sometimes, but if you’re feeling good about yourself, don’t ever let anyone make you think differently. When you give in to a negative thought about yourself, you’re relinquishing a little piece of yourself. If you continue to do that, pretty soon you’ll have surrendered a lot of pieces. You’ll be weaker and more unsure than ever.

Appreciating yourself is your life raft in the waters of criticism.

It can get pretty difficult dealing with things and people around you, especially if they are undermining your confidence in yourself. But you know what? It takes a very strong person to make it through and come out on top—to come out feeling okay. To come out knowing you are great just the way you are. To come out better because you know this.

Don’t give up on yourself. You have all the power.

And you are beautiful. Just as you are.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Claim to Shame

Mrs. M. at Weighing the Facts recently did a post on Shame--specifically how it related to the eating disorders of various individuals. I did a little write-up myself, which is here. Thought some might find it interesting...and maybe even helpful.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Beautiful Birthday Gift

Yesterday was my birthday and my husband, Rick, got me the most wonderful and meaningful gift.

He bought me a recovery pendant from SpoonFedArt.Com: [url]http://www.spoonfedart.com/gallery/gallery.html[/url]

I have long loved the pendants on this site, but they are so expensive (for me) and therefore have never bought myself one. But my sweet Rick gave me one for my birthday and I swear I almost cried. It's beautiful. Check out her gallery.

THE PENDANTS ARE MADE OUT OF SPOONS as a meaningful way to express recovery from an eating disorder. Not only does she (the artist) support NEDA, but she is also quite talented... Each pendant is like it's own personal little painting. I love mine. If you go to the gallery, mine is the one called "Leap" because Rick said I am always leaping with life like a gazelle and that is how he thinks of me.

Just wanted to share. Here it is on me! You can't see the pendant very well, so definitely go to the site!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

An Important Message

I'd like to share two quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson. They both really speak to me and hopefully they'll speak to you too. Plus, they're both really good ones to keep in mind when you're having a rough day.


The first:


"Be not the slave of your own past ... plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience, that shall explain and overlook the old."


For one, the very words sound refreshing, invigorating, renewing. The first part is the most important—"be not the slave of your own past." How many of us are right now being the slaves of our own pasts? What will it take to break that cycle, to change that thinking, to move forward? It's simple yet difficult: dive into life. Live. Go for it. Persevere. Revel in what's around you. And then, as Emerson tells us, we'll be renewed—we will have "self-respect" and "new power." Who doesn't want that? Doesn't it sound beautiful? Miraculous even? Yet, it can be accomplished. And when we have that new outlook, we'll be able to figure out the past the best way we can, and we'll be able—and ready—to move on.


Now for the second quote:

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense."


I like this one even more. One of my own sayings I keep on a post-it at my desk is: "Today is what you make it. And tomorrow is always a new day." This quote by Emerson seems (to me) to go hand in hand with that mentality. Instead of beating yourself up for mistakes you made or setbacks that may have happened, instead of berating yourself for being the way you are, and instead of worrying over what happened in the course of the day—"finish each day and be done with it." There is no better advice than that. As Emerson says, "You have done what you could." Things may have happened that you didn't like, but forgetting them as soon as you can is a much better choice than dwelling on them and thus allowing them to hinder your progress for the days to follow. Each new morning, focus not on the day that has passed, but begin the new day "serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense." When the day begins, it is new and fresh and clean and blank. Don't mar such a glorious thing with bad feelings from the previous day; march on and make the day what you want it to be.