True confession, for years, I spent my life trying to be someone else. I can’t even tell you why or when this began. Maybe I always did this. I don’t know. The point is, I lived this way – for years. A stunning example is when I was a group fitness instructor, a role I played for a good 25 years of my adult life. I spent almost all that time trying to be someone else. I was never good enough for me. I wasn’t creative enough or my music wasn’t the right music. And on and on and on. Some of my good friends (fellow instructors) would become my “study”. I’d watch and learn … down to the way they dressed, their presentation, their music and their choreography. I took learning from others to a whole different level. Because I wasn’t comfortable or secure in my personality and style I had to copy someone else because she or he must know better than I. And…for some time I was able to pull it off even though something never felt quite right. And then it all came tumbling down.
I was being inauthentic – not true to myself – not being myself. What it really got down to was that I was afraid to be me – fully. There was a fear that if I was Fully Me people might not like me. Upon facing this assumption I had created I realized that maybe, just maybe I was okay, had value, a purpose and something to offer. I considered that perhaps the world might just be a better place with me in it. And it took facing myself in the mirror everyday. Honestly, I began standing in front of the bathroom mirror and looking at myself and saying out loud the words, “I love you”. It probably sounds kind of funny or odd but when I started doing this it felt awkward. It was always easy to say these words to my husband, son, family and friends. But to me? Oh my gosh. Awkward! And…I stayed with it because I’m worth it. Through this exercise I faced my whole self – all my strengths and all my weaknesses. It also taught me not to take myself so seriously. In essence, it helped me lighten up – not just on me but on everyone else. Today, I’m comfortable with me – all my strengths, weaknesses, perfections and imperfections. Hah! There are probably more of my qualities for me to uncover. Bring em’ on! I like being who I am and I can laugh at myself at the drop of a coin. I embrace me even when I don’t embrace me.
Each of us has this going on within us to some degree. Obviously some more than others. 🙂 How often do we take these notions we have of ourselves so seriously? How often are we blindsided by the assumptions we make about ourselves? Why not take a look and see? What have you got to lose? Here’s a little exercise and process to help you embrace yourself – completely:
1. Get out paper and pencil (or your journal).
2. Write down 5 things you like about yourself. For example, “I like my sense of humor – I make people laugh.”
3. Write down 5 things you see are weaknesses. For example, “I have a tendency to interrupt people mid-sentence.”
4. Be completely honest and don’t judge any of your answers.
5. Read over what you have written. Put down paper and pencil, close your eyes. Consider what you have written. Feel how it feels in your body. Where are you feeling tightness and tenseness? Just notice it. Then ask yourself, “who’s experiencing this?” Now just breath into and relax. Sit for a few minutes and let it all be just as it is. Open your eyes and move on with your day.
6. Every morning for the next 30 days, stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself out loud (not to yourself) “I love you”. Say it out loud! And smile or laugh…
Now, go out and be your sweet self knowing that you are beautiful…just the way you are. Here’s an oldie but a goodie song to set you on your way – “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright and the 103rd Street Rhythm Band.