One of my biggest struggles is being hard and really judgemental on myself. I can love and applaud others but I have the hardest time doing it for myself. Self Love is a real struggle for me and one I have dealt with for years. I know I am not alone in this struggle and today’s society and social media make it even harder. Everyone appears to be living their best lives- thriving at work, in relationships, dieting and exercising and being healthy 24/7, and being amazing parents. The comparison trap is real.
I can’t exactly pinpoint when I started being so hard on myself but I know these feelings have been around for awhile. I have struggled with self confidence and self worth for years. Really probably going back to my high school years, most kids are insecure then, my insecurities just lingered. I do know when my marriage ended 4 years ago and then I followed that with a toxic relationship that things hit a real low for me. I felt like I could do nothing right and was literally a failure. Even though my parents and close friends would always tell me the opposite, giving me words of praise and telling me how strong I was but those words went in one ear and out the other. It doesn’t matter how many people sing your praises if you don’t believe it, it won’t stick.
I am a people pleaser to the core and always have been. I always like to make sure everyone is happy. I hate conflict and tension and would bend over backwards to make sure everyone is content. I often (well always) put everyone else’s needs and happiness first and mine last. I am realizing that when put everyone else’s needs first I am left feeling depleted, sad and unfilled. I am learning I need to take the time to nurture myself. Do things that inspire me and feed my soul.
Turning 40 as empowering as it was for me was also really hard. It has brought on so many emotions and issues of self doubt as my body changes and I start to age. I relish and embrace my wrinkles and smile lines because happiness and a well lived life bring those wrinkles and lines. However it is a rat race out there with people trying to do all the anti-aging stuff and look younger than they are, which overwhelms me!! My weight used to be fairly easy to maintain and if I gained a few pounds I knew exactly what to do drop them, I swear 40 has my metabolism out of whack and it is much harder to loose weight. Exercising and cutting back on calories are not working like they used to and it is frustrating.
This is a reoccurring topic for me at my bi weekly therapy sessions and something that I am always working on. I frequently lament to my therapist- I was a horrible mom this week, my kids had way too much screen time, I yelled too much, I got annoyed too easily. Or I am not working hard enough in my career, not exercising enough, not doing enough for others, the list goes on. She recently asked me ” would you say the things you say to yourself to a younger Natalie?” and the answer was definitely no and I would never say those types of things to Frances or Sterling. Negative self worth is toxic if you wouldn’t say it to another person don’t say it to yourself.
Instead give yourself grace. Everyone has a different life path and life can be hard and has its trials. Just because I see others succeeding and thriving in their own way right now doesn’t mean I won’t succeed in my own way at my own time and at my own pace. Life is not perfect and I don’t have to be either. Covid really forced all of us to wear way more hats than we were used to, so it is normal to feel stretched thin and like you aren’t doing enough and balancing all areas of your life.
She really encouraged me to stop setting unrealistic expectations for myself. Making huge goals and life changes that then don’t work out make you feel like a failure, instead focus on small easy things that will then lead to larger changes. Last year when I was beating myself about not getting my cookbook done she reminded me I had home schooled my kids half the year and I didn’t have family In town or a full time nanny to help me like many others. To take a pause and when the time is right it will happen.
I try to do my best each day but most days I fail in some way and that’s ok. I recognize it and try and look at the little things I did right those days. Did we sit down and eat as a family and talk, yes. Was our dinner Chick Fila that was door dashed, also yes but totally fine. I don’t have to prepare meals every single night and just sitting down with my kids and spending time together is enough. Did I eat half a bag of pork rinds (probably gross but my new obsession) yes. Did I workout to counteract some of that, yes. Did I check my emails late and every slot was filled for the school party sign up list- yep it was a hectic day. Do I donate and volunteer with the school on other occasions also yes. I try not and beat myself up over these little things. Because at the end of the day they are just little things,
I can’t sit here and type that everyday I am kind to myself but I am trying to be better, it is a process. I am trying to learn to be still with myself and to love myself flaws and all. I once heard something that really resonated with me, if you can’t sit still and be comfortable with yourself and love yourself then how can you expect anyone else too. Be your own cheerleader and advocate. Praise yourself for the little things and remember everyone’s journey in life is different.