This is an original post by Rosie Molinary, author of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance.
Years ago, there was a print ad (Nike?) that I just loved. It read:
“You are born. And oh, how you wail! Your first breath is a scream. Not timid or low, but selfish and shattering, with all the force of waiting nine months under water. Your whole life should be like that: An announcement.”
I was reminded of that ad recently when I was watching my fully-possessed two year run around like the spirited boy that he is. He is irrepressible, embodied joy, electric. His cousins long ago forgot his name and simply call him Happy. He, indeed, lives his life as an announcement.
And though I am his mom and am inclined to think he’s special, what I know to be true is that every single child begins that way. All of us come into this world playing big, not small. We don’t suppress our cries or laughs or joys. We don’t think badly of ourselves.
As children, we felt comfortable in our skin. Our body was our instrument, an extension of our wholly unique mind and soul. We used it to take us where we were going, to express what we felt, to get things done. The world, for us, was hopeful and certainly not limited by the way we looked. But then, too often, somewhere on the way to adulthood, something shifted. Our sense of our own brilliance faded. Our understanding of our own beauty dimmed. Our faith in our radiance wavered.
Losing and Finding Your Brilliance
Maybe it was the media that overwhelmed us. With instant access to information, with thousands of images shot at us every day, maybe we digested and internalized too much of the scrutiny. Maybe it was an unintended slight that stung us or a comment that someone delivered flippantly that we have held onto forever. Maybe it was not being chosen for this or being ignored by them, maybe it was a loss so significant that it still seems like our soul is empty from it. Maybe it was the way our body matured into adulthood that felt like a betrayal, or the way that it didn’t.
Whatever it may have been that stole away that central understanding of our inner and outer brilliance, I refuse to believe that we can’t get it back. And, even more than that, I believe it is crucial that we, in fact, do get it back. The world’s needs are too great and each of us has some role we are meant to be playing in addressing them. For any one of us to play small means our world stays broken. For every minute we spend in the mirror, lamenting what’s wrong with us, the world’s wrongs keep spinning by.
And, so, in the spirit of making my own announcement, I wrote Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance. Drawing on self-awareness, mind-body, and practical techniques, Beautiful You is an action plan to give women what they need to champion and fully live their own lives, coaching them into the most extraordinary- and necessary- habit of treating their whole selves well. The book’s user-friendly format allows each reader to decide her journey and it includes daily essays or reflections and a daily tip or exercise for enhancing one’s self awareness.
Today, I wanted to share with you a five-step crash course in embracing beautiful you because the sooner we can return to our brilliance, the sooner we can share the announcements we were meant to be wailing.
- Break your self-deprecation habit. Too often, we normalize our body hatred by letting unkind words pass our lips about ourselves without a thought. We should catch and correct ourselves because our whole lives are affected by how we think and speak about our bodies. Find a bowl, vase, or piggy bank and deposit a quarter or more each time you knock yourself, and watch your self-awareness soar and your habits change. When you have collected enough, treat yourself to a gift from the money you have collected or donate it. We can all change our language—and our minds.
- Have a comeback. Think of the jabs you sometimes hear from friends and family members. Perhaps they are about your appearance, your relationship status, or whether or not you have kids. Now take some time to come up with the perfect comeback. What can you say, the next time it happens, to let that critical person know that you would like to be treated differently or that your body is off limits for discussion? Periodically practice the comeback, in your mind and out loud, so that you are ready when you need to use it.
- Embrace your passion. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is a passion, something that brings us so much joy and satisfaction that we can’t help but feel successful when we are doing it. When we are doing something we are passionate about, we can’t help but feel like we have something to offer.
- Make eye contact. Much of our confidence is projected through our eyes. Avoiding eye contact is just one way of communicating to the world that you want to be invisible. It also communicates to the person whose eyes you are avoiding that he or she isn’t worthy of being seen, even if you don’t mean to send that message.
- Stop body checking. Watch for times when you are checking yourself out in mirrors, windows, even shadows. When you catch yourself doing it, take a breath and change your focus. By curtailing the behavior that fuels your obsession, you train yourself to turn off the tape that keeps cycling in your head.