When I began I was at rock bottom. I hated the way I looked and felt so ashamed of my body. I just wanted to hide and cover myself up. Summer 2013 I didn't step out once in a bathing suit and that's because I was too upset with myself for gaining the weight back even though it was weight I needed. I felt so fat and couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror. I thought my friends and family would notice so I didn't want them to see me in a bathing suit. I was afraid that they would judge or criticize me and see all the flaws that I saw. So what did I do? I buried my feelings and took the easy way out by ignoring my issues. But eventually I realized that it wouldn't solve anything. That wouldn't make me feel more confident or better about my body so I decided to do something about it. I was sick of feeling that way and tearing myself down, and knew the day had finally come when I was going to fix it.
First off, you have to change your way of thinking. I started to look in the mirror and instead of critiquing myself I started to find things that I did like about myself. It could've been the most random things like the shape of my eyes, the color of my hair, or the natural curve in my waist. In the beginning, it felt forced and that I was just doing it to make myself feel better. Kind of like when people would compliment me and it just sounded like empty words to me because I couldn't see what they saw. But you know what? It was sincere and I did mean it but it was just my skewed perspective at the time that twisted the words I was saying to myself. Where my problem truly lies is my perception of myself, and that's what I've learned to change.
In order to do that it was so simple: I started to be nice to myself. That's all it took to get me started on this journey. To other people that might seem obvious or natural, and they may not even understand how I wasn't nice to myself but saying negative things constantly about my appearance has been normal for me since probably around 12-13. I'm not sure when it happened but I feel as though around then is the usual age when girls and boys start comparing themselves to others. Anyway, once I began being nicer to myself that's when I noticed the change. Think about it. You need to hear those words from yourself more than anyone because you yourself are your biggest critic. So when you have the validation from yourself that you are beautiful, your confidence will grow. I learned that seeking validation from other people will not get me anywhere. I only need the validation from my Creator and myself. Putting your energy in seeking out the validation of your self-worth and looks from other people will only disappoint you and leave you empty. You have to learn to draw your confidence from yourself, don't look to others to boost you up. That will only set you up for failure by placing your self-esteem in the hands of others. For so long I thought that if enough people said nice things about me then I would feel good about myself. But what use was it to hear those compliments if I would just turn around and tell myself mean things? The change needed to come from inside me. Sure, it's nice to hear good things coming from other people but don't use their words as the foundation of your confidence.
Once I began to appreciate myself and praise the things I liked about myself, I found that it was easier to find more things I liked. Suddenly, I could find more things I liked than I disliked. Anyone who understands the struggle of low self-esteem can understand that this is a pretty big deal. Not only did I find less things but it was the sheer fact that the good outweighed the bad so that I could push my insecurities aside. They don't rule over me anymore. Yes they still pop up often as is normal and expected. Even the most secure person can get thrown off their game from time to time. We're all human and it happens.
Again, this was a slow process and took months for these steps. The key is that you take little steps and don't focus on the big picture. If you keep your sight set only on your ultimate goal, chances are you won't get there. Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't keep the main goal in mind, it's rather that you have to set little goals along the way. Ones that are achievable in a shorter amount of time so that it can keep your motivation and confidence to keep going. For me, it was adding on a few things I liked about myself each week or forcing myself out of my comfort zone like wearing my jeans again or using less make-up. It taught me to see myself as I am and to accept that reality. I found that accomplishing these little goals along the way got me much farther than if I had just tried to do it all at once. Your mind needs time to heal. I was so hard on myself for so long that changing this over night wasn't gonna happen. I ran myself into the ground with all my unhealthy words that it would take awhile to heal those wounds. But it is possible. It takes patience, strength, and love but most importantly faith. You have to trust and believe in yourself.
I'm confident at this point that I won't go back to where I was last summer. For one, the thought of a bathing suit doesn't scare me to death anymore. I'm actually looking forward to getting some color on my pasty skin! This thought comforts me because I trust myself to take care of me now. My prayers have been answered and I'm proud of myself for how far I've come. Like I always say, it's still a work in progress but at least I'm making progress! I still have days where I feel like I'm not or that I'm going backwards but those are just those negative thoughts trying to make their way back in. I'm done with letting those thoughts take hold of me because I keep my goals in mind and send up a prayer when I need the strength. I have all the faith in the world that you can find your healthy place, too!