Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Category: Self-Esteem

Finding My True Self: A Work in Progress

Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.

~Richard Bach

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the subjects of shame, belonging and authenticity. This is not light, beach reading, obviously, and sometimes, it takes me to places that I’ve been avoiding, well, my entire life. But I also know that these books, journals, reflections, and meditations are leading me closer to my “true self.”

We all have an ideal self–someone who we wish we were. This person looks perfect, acts perfect, and is perfect. And this person will never and can never exist because we are human, and no one is perfect. But our striving to be this person, this version of whatever we think is perfect, is killing us–it leads to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drinking too much, and a whole host of other unhealthy things.

So to find my true self, I’ve been trying to recognize when I’m comparing myself to this ideal image . When I look in the mirror and I say to myself, why didn’t you use more sunscreen when you were younger? Or maybe you should skip that dessert tonight! Or even: why can’t you make more time to work on your novel–look at how successful your friends are? Why are you so impatient with your daughter whom you love more than anything else in the world? When I do this, I am being hard on myself, and I’m comparing myself to this ideal image of the way I think I should be.

Look, we’ve been doing this since we were kids. It’s why when we aren’t married to Prince Charming by the time we are 25, we start freaking out a little. It’s why when we get let go from a job we thought we would retire from, we feel defeated. It’s why when our book doesn’t make the bestsellers list, we think we have zero talent.

I would venture that many of us don’t know our true selves. I’m working on knowing mine. And the way I’m doing it, thanks to this book to the right and journaling, is by recognizing a few things:

  1. When I’m not sleeping at night because I’m analyzing my behavior during the day and wondering if I was good enough. Did I do everything correctly? Is anyone going to be upset with me in the morning? Now, I’m reframing this and saying: Of course, I wasn’t perfect, but I did some of these things correctly and next time, I might do this instead. Then I think of my blessings and go back to sleep.
  2. When I’m not authentic. One of the examples Darlene Lancer gives many times in the book is to ask yourself: do you find yourself accepting blame or saying you are sorry when you don’t really mean it? Do you say things at work or in your family that you don’t really feel to keep the peace? Sure, we all do this, and there is a fine line between always saying what you feel and respecting other people. But as Brene Brown pointed out in her book, Braving the Wilderness, we can listen with an open mind to everyone, and we can respond with kindness. It can still be authentic, such as, “I’m sorry I just don’t agree with that point, but I see where you’re coming from.” If we can learn that sentence, we may be closer to our true selves than we ever have been before.
  3. When I feel joy: I think since I’ve been thinking about this subject more than I ever have before, I’m actually feeling more joy and more peace. I think I’m sillier with Katie. I feel more in control.  I feel like I can do this single parent thing. This is not to say that I’ve got it all together. But there are more positive moments filled with joy than before. I’m not always doing something because I think I should (like planning an activity for Katie every day–some days, we’re staying home and she’s figuring out what to do herself). I’m prioritizing what brings me joy and what I need to do to feel organized and good about myself, and then doing those things.

As I’ve written about before, this journey I’m on is filled with imperfect progress. I don’t have any of this mastered yet, but I thought I would share because you might be on a similar journey, or these words might inspire you to join with me in finding our true selves.

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Round-Up: Self-Care and Emotional Health Top 5 Articles

Self-care and emotional health are two very important topics to me. I recently saw this quote on a quote calendar I own:

“You must love and care for yourself because that’s when the best comes out.” ~ Tina Turner

So true, right? And as we all know, it is not always easy when you’re a parent, especially. So here is a round-up of the top 5 articles on my blog that have to do with self-care and emotional health. I chose this round-up thanks to everyone who took my poll on what topics readers would like me to focus on next. So here we go…

Life Is All About Your Reaction and Your Tribe (This post is about surrounding yourself with people who make you better and how you can’t control others, but you can control your reaction!)

Parents: Taking Time For Yourself (This post is about a trip I took with my girlfriends and why it is important for all parents to fill their well.)

The Thing About Change and Not Giving Up (This post was inspired by a book I read about ways to NOT become unglued and making imperfect progress toward goals.)

5 Things I Learned About Living In 2016 (From “balance is key” to “parenting is hard and give yourself a break”, this post shares my personal experiences while trying to improve my emotional health.)

Make This the Year You Start Taking Care of Number One  (Three tips for taking care of yourself and why you should! )

 

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Build a Brighter You

contributed article

Do you ever feel like you’re losing your confidence? Perhaps you have days where nothing seems to be going right; and no matter what you try, you just can’t seem to build up your mood. Well, the good news is that everyone has days like this at one point or another. The better news is that there are lots of ways to build back up your confidence and feel better about yourself.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

If shopping for outfits or accessories builds up your confidence, this doesn’t make you superficial. It makes you completely normal. There’s something about putting on a gorgeous new dress or a stunning piece of jewelry that immediately refreshes confidence. If you’re not one for traipsing around town, diving in and out of stores on the high street, you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of places online to shop for what you’re looking for. According to sites like http://yourdiamondguru.com/reviews/james-allen/, James Allen is a great option for buying dazzling, deluxe jewelry that will make you glisten and sparkle. It just depends on the type of budget you’re working with.

You might think that to buy a beautiful outfit or a new selection of jewelry, you need to be going somewhere or attending a party, but you don’t. Dressing up on a day that you’re staying in can be just what you need to build up your confidence and self-esteem.

Night Out

Of course, that doesn’t mean that a night out on the town won’t help. It certainly could, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re married or single. If you’re single, you can head out and have fun with your friends. If it leads to something, great. If not, who cares? You’ll have a blast anyway. If you’re married, you can still head out for a night with the girls and make sure you don’t get too out of control. Even just getting a few looks across the bar from a tall, dark, handsome stranger can be enough to build up your self esteem. Or alternatively, you can head out with your partner and make sure you spend some time building up the foundations of the relationship.

Smile A Little More

Did you know that by smiling you actually make yourself just a little happier? You can learn more about that on http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/smiling-happy.htm.  If you are smiling, you let other people know you’re happy, which leads to positive interactions. Of course, it’s not always easy to grin when you’re feeling blue, but it could help you lead to a brighter day.

Take Some Time With Your Favorite Person

Of course, this is all about you, so why not take a trip, take a drive or even just sit and relax in your home by yourself? A little me time may be just what you need to build back up your confidence because it allows you to get in touch with yourself and find out what’s bothering you. Ask yourself: what’s going wrong and how can you fix it? Whether you’re climbing a mountain or heading on a spa day, you might just come home feeling refreshed and ready to be a brighter better you.

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Self-Love: Stop Apologizing For Who You Are

One day, when I was feeling upset, I wrote this Facebook status:

A very wise person said to me: the only thing that is wrong with you is wondering what is wrong with you. I am done apologizing for who I am. There, I said it. Please hold me to this. I’m counting on you. We should all feel this way. I think anyone who has been through big life changes–divorce, parenting, breakups, marriage, job, death–you can lose yourself and wonder what is wrong with you. I am also a people pleaser, so I wonder if I even know who I am…

As soon as something goes wrong in my life, my thinking is: what’s wrong with me or what did I do wrong? This is not helpful thinking. Sure, it’s always good to assess situations and learn from them, and I’m sure that often mistakes are made–by both parties.  But I can really obsess like the best of them over things like:

  • I texted first one too many times.
  • I wore the wrong shoes.
  • I talked to strangers.
  • I wanted to sing karoke.
  • I get up at 5:30 am.
  • I like plans and schedules and calendars.

We can become so obsessed over minor, unimportant details that make up who we are. I do this all the time. Yes, I like to binge watch terrible shows. No, I don’t like to only drink beer. Yes, I can be loud and interrupt people. No, I don’t like to go out without make-up on. We are all made up of wonderful, interesting, annoying, and quirky personality traits that someone won’t like. We find ourselves apologizing for these. (I do anyway.) We wonder why we can’t be perfect, like Friend A or Acquaintance B. And I’m stressing the word, WE, because when I put this Facebook post up, it received a lot of comments, many were from people who were feeling the same.

” I had a friend yesterday tell me that I need to believe in myself more and be confident in my skill. She’s right.”

or

“I had a similar UGH moment a couple weeks ago! https://www.homewithkristen.com/new-blog/2017/6/21/you-do-you ”

or

“Thanks for this. I was at an event last night and started really feeling insecure and self-doubting. Just felt like a total loser compared to the other people there. Self-esteem today was so low, and I texted a friend to try to feel better. She reminded me that everyone else at that event also has demons to battle, scars they hide, and their own problems, even if it didn’t show last night. Sometimes you just need that reminder that NOBODY is perfect, and everyone has issues.”

Why do we do this to ourselves? 

Social media does not help with this issue because most of us share ONLY our glory moments. Sure, I’ll share my cute daughter at the state fair or her first day of school, but not so much sharing when she’s having a major meltdown over an art project. And everyone’s an expert these days with headlines, like: 10 Ways to Get a Guy.   How to Be a Great Friend.  Lose Weight Without Trying. And so on…look at the bio on some of these writers–they might have some good ideas, but they have zero qualifications to be an expert OR to tell you that anything is wrong with you!

I’m not advocating that we don’t self-assess, try to improve or work on making our relationships the best they can possibly be. But while we are doing that, we must also practice self-love and that includes STOPPING the insanity of apologizing for who you are. And I’m going to go one step further and include: stop apologizing for who your kids/family are too. We are who we are. NO ONE is perfect. Everyone has issues. The only thing you really need to apologize for is: if you stop learning, growing, and working towards becoming a better version of the almost-perfect self you are now.

That’s my two cents. I’m going to step off my soap box now.

 

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