Caroline Caldwell, artist and writer based in New York, tweeted on May 17th, 2015,
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”
By the time most girls reach adolescence the act of comparing is second nature. This chronic compulsion to compare covers everything from their noses, boobs, bellies, and thighs to the their grades, how many friends they have and who is getting the most attention in class. They spend a lot of time harshly judging themselves for not being good enough. They look in the mirror and study all that shouldn’t be there, then when someone asks them how they are doing they reply with a simple “I’m fine.”
But why? Where does this need to compare, judge, and put themselves down come from? How has this narrative been passed down from generation to generation? And why have we collectively accepted it as part of the growing up process?
I have become deeply interested in understanding this issue as it has touched my life and the lives of many young girls I have worked with. I think it is crucial that we continue exploring this topic together, exposing is to the light , in the hopes that we can heal together.
The dictionary definition of self-doubt is “lack of confidence in oneself and one's abilities.” In my experience self-doubt grows in power from the belief that one's value comes from external appearance and success rather than the internal, intrinsic worth. So instead of spending energy strengthening and understanding this "inner self," one is set to the task of looking good for others - a tiring and unsuccessful task- as it can never produce the constant amount of love and safety that is longed for.
Our western culture promotes and continues to perpetuate the story that the external world; meaning your job, how much money you make, how your body looks, and your academic credentials are more important than your internal world; meaning how you feel, what you are passionate about, your innate gifts, your creativity and your heart’s desire. When we buy into this cultural belief at a young age and see that everyone else, and that usually includes our parents, have bought into it too, it’s to be expected that we would start to chronically compare and compete with others. Even though this comparing and competition is usually painful, it continues on because at times we do succeed. We do get the job, the credentials, the money and we usually do get a sense of accomplishment from that outer success. The trouble is that the success we gain in the outer world can come into our lives as easily as it can be taken away. We can lose our jobs, lose our money, lose our status, we can even lose a body part. So on some level we know that our outer success is on very shaky ground. But instead of letting this shakiness be a signal to search inside of ourselves for security we usually only try harder to control our outer lives. Our consumer based society grows stronger from this because when I am doing everything I can to control my outer life it is more likely I will purchase more, eat more, drink more, use more drugs and ultimately I won’t feel strong enough to create the life I really want.
Let's imagine for a moment that tomorrow morning we wake up in a new reality. A reality where all human beings are deeply connected and centered within themselves. A world where every human being is walking around confident in their internal worth and potential, so much so that they are completely fearless in their life.
Can you imagine what jobs, relationships and community looks like here?
Don’t let the inner critic come in quite yet, just let your imagination go wild with this for a while.
Whatever you just imagined is the revolution that is coming over the next 100 years. The old story of external success being more important than the internal landscape is coming to an end. Our planet is dying, our hearts are aching and the idea of external abundance equaling internal happiness is crumbling at our feet. When self-love becomes more valuable than anything external in our lives we may find ourselves waking up in a new world. A world where we are free, powerful and creatively guided.
If you are jiving with this idea of self-love being a revolutionary act and you hear the realist in you wondering, BUT HOW?
Don’t worry I’ve got some suggestions of how you can take action right now to start your own self-love revolution.
A great place to start is:
Participate on a regular basis with self-loving practices like meditation, yoga, therapy, dancing, singing, painting and basically anything else that makes you feel good about YOU! Schedule it into your calendar like you would a date, a meeting or a job. What makes this revolutionary is when you start prioritizing your self-loving time over other activities.
Here are a few other ways I practice and teach self-love:
1. Imagine the part of yourself you feel is the most unlovable. Whether its fear, doubt, neediness, anger, jealousy, rage see it and feel it sitting on a dock or on a bench in a safe place in nature. Go up to this part of yourself and sit down next to it for awhile. Listen and let this part of yourself do whatever it needs to do. Listen with an open heart and be available to hold this part of yourself.
2. Put post it notes with words like “You’re awesome” “I love you” “You are badass” “I am proud of you” “You make my day” “I love you just the way you are” “You are light” all over your house; on the fridge, in your bathroom, above your desk, in your car etc.
3. Start a gratitude journal and write it in every night or morning a list of 5 to 10 things you are grateful for in your life. Capture the preciousness of your life on paper and you may start to see and feel more abundance than lack.
4. Give freely. Offer your time and volunteer. Find a project that you believe in and donate some of your time. Notice if you are doing this to “look” good. Notice and do it anyway, you may be surprised at how much you get out of it, regardless if others think you are noble or not.
What lives inside of you is far richer, wiser, fuller and greater than anything you can find outside of you. In a 100 years time our young people will be hearing stories about the olden days when human beings didn’t know how to love themselves. These young people will listen in shock and horror as they hear about how we treated ourselves and each other. Their hearts will break as they learn about the self doubt, fear and anguish that plagued our people. They will hold our memories in their hearts, and they will be filled with gratitude for the journey we all took to love ourselves, so they could now be living with the truth of love.
Creator of True Voice Mentorship
Photo Source: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash
Karina Brossmann is a self expression enthusiast, a heart centered yoga teacher and a mentor for young girls. She holds a BFA in theater from Cornish College of the Arts and is a 250 hr certified yoga instructor. She has participated in reiki, pathwork and life coach training. She partakes in ecstatic dancing and self expression on a regular basis and is currently building conscious curriculum for young people. She was born and raised in Seattle and loves the Pacific Northwest!