A few years ago I invested in a photoshoot for my business. Despite my awkwardness of being in front of the camera the photographer, Nykie Grove Eades did an amazing job. However, the first thing that I did when I saw this photo was cringe.
My smile, my attitude, the look of confidence on my face, it was just plain embarrassing. I confess that although this photo was taken two years ago, until today, I have been too ashamed to share it with a living soul.
“What will people think?” I asked myself, “Will they think that I am full of myself?” “This is so cringy!”
“Who am I to be this confident?”
At the time when this photo was taken, I used to colour my hair brown even though it was mostly grey.
I used to put off buying new clothes until I “lost my weight”.
If I bought clothes they would be size 16 instead of the size 18 that I really am, just in case someone would see the label and think that I was fat.
I used to step off of the scale or look in the mirror at my extra chins, my saggy boobs, my stretch marks and my rolls with a sigh of disgust – just wishing that I were different.
Just wishing that I were younger, skinnier, firmer, sexier.
I used to tell myself what a lazy, unmotivated, undesirable, undeserving slob I was all the time.
I did not accept or love myself and I was miserable.
Serendipity: (n.) Finding Something Good Without Looking for it
And then one day I saw an ad on Facebook for a plus-size clothing brand. I fell in love with the stunning dress that the model was wearing. It was feminine, floaty, colourful, and just stunning. The model, roughly a size 18, looked exquisite, confident, radiant – comfortable in her own skin.
I decided, even though the dress was more than I would usually spend on myself, to place an order.
I waited in anticipation for my frock to arrive.
A couple of weeks later I found a parcel in my letterbox addressed to me. I excitedly ripped open the package and gleefully put the dress on.
It was perfect!
For the first time since could remember I looked in the mirror and felt gorgeous.
That small moment was a huge turning point for me. It dawned on me that I could look beautiful no matter the size I was.
You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.Oprah Winfrey
Flawsome: (adj.) An Individual Who Embraces Their “Flaws” and Knows That They are Awesome Regardless.
From that day on I vowed to (and religiously stuck to) only buy clothing that made me feel good. Outfits that made me feel like I did in that dress.
Slowly but surely I bought more clothes that made me feel beautiful. I stopped dyeing my hair brown and let myself go lighter until I made grey my friend.
Instead of using the mirror, the scale and my too-tight clothing as a way to confirm my “not good enough” status or wishing that I was different, I started looking in the mirror and choosing to see myself as beautiful.
It wasn’t easy. Some days I could find one small thing about myself to like.
Giving myself compliments and choosing to see the beauty in me felt so unnatural – I just wasn’t raised to think that way. As girls, we receive the message very early on in our lives that we have to act or think a certain way. We are admonished for being vain, we are taught to be ashamed of compliments. We learn that the most desirable feminine attribute is selflessness…
Perhaps the reason why this photograph bugged me so much was my lack of humility – my apparent lack of selflessness?
Metania: (n.) The Journey of Changing One’s Mind, Heart, Self, or Way of Life
However, I persisted through the discomfort and I started practising radical acceptance. And what I found was that the more I accepted myself, the more joyful, confident and comfortable I felt in my own skin.
Once I was no longer at war with myself, I had so much more energy to create the types of things I wanted in my life, and I could make space to discover new things about myself.
I recognised that if I was having a thought that hinged around “I am not good enough” or “Who am I to do this?” then I was experiencing shame. I started to challenge my thinking and getting curious about the things that triggered my feelings of shame.
I became a shame detector.
Everyone experiences shame. Unchallenged, shame can be so disempowering especially if we use it to cause harm to ourselves. This can hold us back from living the life we want to live or from being the best, truest versions of ourselves.
Radical acceptance is not saying that the thing that happened to us or what we are currently going through is “okay” or that we shouldn’t take action to improve. Radical acceptance is simply surrendering to the reality of “what is” at this moment in time and making peace with yourself. As Byron Katie says in her book, Loving What Is;
When you argue with reality I lose – but only 100% of the time.Byron Katie
Radical acceptance is simply deciding to stop the war that makes reality and yourself your own enemy and deciding that you are enough! Radical acceptance means locating yourself – putting an emotional stake in the ground and saying to yourself;
“I am here. I am human, messy, full of flaws and imperfect in many ways and I am worthy of love and acceptance.”
Radical acceptance is a way of taking responsibility for yourself where you are in life as well as the energy that you put out into the world!
I realise now that what I was doing at this moment, was stepping into the power of my own Queen. Queens know their worth and are not afraid to invest in themselves.
Our Children are Watching
In his book, I Heart Me, David R Hamilton PhD, states that children of a parent who has low self-worth, will inherit their parent’s sense of worth. He calls this the Self-Worth Contagion. He also states that people with low self-worth tend to marry a person with a similar sense of self-worth.
This means that unless we work on our own self-acceptance and self-love we unwittingly pass this on to our children. Our children are always watching. They watch what we say, how we act and how we treat and speak to themselves and then model this behaviour. Now if this makes you feel that pesky emotion of shame – there is hope!
When a mother steps into her own self-worth she models this for her children too. Self-acceptance and self-love are contagious!
Sophrosyne: (n.) A Healthy State of Mind, Characterised by Self-Control, Moderation, and a Deep Awareness of One’s True Self, and Resulting in True Happiness
If you want to transform your relationship with yourself then you have to transform your thinking.
The first step to transforming your thoughts is to become aware of them.
My challenge to you, for the next 24 hours is to intentionally eves drop in on your thoughts.
- Set a timer on your phone for hour intervals.
- Carry a notebook around with you and each hour when your alarm goes off stop what you are doing.
- Observe the thoughts you had in the previous hour.
- Record them in your notebook.
- Review your thoughts at the end of the day – were they motivating and empowering? Could your thoughts makeover?
- Take stock of your thoughts, and decide what you can intentionally say to yourself instead.
- Keep going, challenging yourself with new thoughts can be a bit tricky at first and takes practice, but just keep going.
“Part of being human is being entitled to be happy. We don’t need to earn the right, just as we don’t need to earn sunlight or oxygen. We’re also entitled to love and health. And we’re entitled to thrive. And when I say ‘entitled’, I mean that there are no questions about this, no arguments, no debates. It just is!”David Hamilton, I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love
So How About it? Are You up for the Challenge of Radical Acceptance?
In My Book, When She Wakes, She Will Move Mountains: 5 Steps to Reconnecting With Your Wild Authentic Inner Queen I guide you along your path towards self-love and acceptance and help you to step into the power of your Queen.
If the answer is “yes” and you are ready, then Buy My Book, When She Wakes, She Will Move Mountains: 5 Steps to Reconnecting With Your Wild Authentic Inner Queen.
As a Midlife Mentor for Women I support Soul-Led, Midlife Women who are on an awakening journey, to reconnect with, love and trust the woman behind the roles, the responsibilities and the weight of the expectations of others.
I will support you to unlearn the beliefs, behaviours and stories that no longer serve you so that you can live the next half of your life in a way feels true to who you authentically are as the Queen of your own life!