As moms, wives, and women, we’re hard on ourselves, and it is not pretty what it does to us.
We lose ourselves to our insecurities both in how we perceive ourselves and how we think others view us, and we forget how to love ourselves out loud.
We feel guilt and shame for missed accomplishments, dreams put aside, physical appearance, just not having our life together, etc. Then we play the “Comparison Game” with all the other women around us to boot. Our brains are full of our imagined flaws and failures of what we believe we could have done better.
When I receive compliments, the bad stuff is easier to believe. My husband might tell me, “Wow, you look nice today. Got someone special to see?” Or a friend may say they like how my house always smells good (thank you, Scentsy!) and feels homey because of the way I decorate. Instead of taking the compliment, that inner voice in my head tells me, “Well, you could have done more”.
That inner voice is a real WITCH, and she’s hard to quiet.
My friend is a photographer. She saw a need to empower women and began her mission. I play her “assistant” from time to time, and I made sure I was available the night she did these sessions. It was a beautiful thing to witness. The purpose of Project: I Love Me was to make us aware that what other people say or how they make us feel about ourselves is not our truth.
A blank sheet of paper was the canvas for our words of doubt and self-recrimination.
A lot of the participants had no trouble coming up with the bad stuff. The difficult part was shortening the list of what to say on the sign. I watched these women take pictures with the things others (or their own minds) would have them believe. Tears filled my eyes when Rebekah had them rip those insecurities and lies up as she continued to photograph them.
The second sheet she was told by many of the women was harder to write. The good stuff was not as easy to stand behind. That says something about how we view ourselves, right?
The thing I found astonishing was what happened when Rebekah asked for the last picture.
We had all written our words of doubt, shredded them to pieces, stood behind our new truths, and now there were no more signs to hide behind. Several women looked terrified to pose for an individual picture. A simple request of taking a picture alone had some of these women looking baffled; it was as if they did not know what to do with themselves.
I understood the insecurity all too well. I generally don’t have photos taken of just me, and I’ve had a few friends call me on it. I hide behind my kids or avoid a camera entirely when I see it. My concession to this has been our sporadic family photo sessions and the couple of times I’ve needed headshots for the blog (which is how I ended up becoming part of Blakeman’s Photography project).
How do you believe the good when there is so much worse the world would have us believe instead?
It’s easier said than done, but I think we just need to stop listening. The negative people around us need to be told to stop, and the insecure inner voices need to be tuned out. For every bad thing we feel, we need to make a regular effort to rebuild our self-worth. We are so much more than our imagined flaws. We are worthy of love and all the joy this world has to offer us.
So next time you compliment someone and lift their crown, don’t forget to lift your own and proudly love yourself out loud.
“you teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” – Tony Gaskins