From a young age, we’re taught that our value is based on the opinions of others. Our worth is based on the attention from others. When we’re children, the praise we receive for achievement shapes our opinion of ourselves. If we do something well, we continue to strive to do things well to continue getting praise.
Unfortunately, if you work and work and work to get praise, and nothing is good enough to their parent(s), then that child will give up. They will believe they’re not good enough; they’re not worthy.
When we’re younger, we’re not taught that our worth is not based on other people’s opinion of us – our worth should be based on OUR opinion of us. No one should hold that power over us – but we’re not taught that. We’re not aware that other people’s opinions don’t matter – or shouldn’t matter. We’re not taught WE should celebrate our achievements – no matter how small, no matter how many people do or do not applaud it.
This week, as I write this, I’ve gone a whopping three days with no sugar – and I’m ecstatic! But other people would be like “Yeah, so what?”. For me, having suffered eating disorders since I was young, who continues to struggle binging on candy, going three whole days, complete with triggers that normally would send me over the edge, this IS a big deal! For me, who has been a habitual dieter for 20 years, giving up the diet mentality felt outrageous, and gaining probably close to 50 lbs has been a challenge. Coming to terms with my new larger self with the knowledge that this isn’t where my body is meant to live is hard. Coming from the physique competing world which made me ED worse was hard. Coming from a place where your body was judged against others was hard. Life is HARD… but the hardest thing to overcome was not caring what others think.
To embrace and love my body for everything it is and everything it has the potential to be has been the craziest, hardest thing I have ever had to do. My body is amazing even if some days I hate it – cause, you know, I’m human! It has taken forever to realize that other people’s opinions mean shit. Not even my husbands. We have “fought” over this because he had concerns over my health. His opinion is the only one that means even a little – but even then we argued as I REFUSED to go on a diet. I refused to count calories or limit my food in such a way that would cause harm – either mentally or physiologically. Yes, I had to be conscious about what and how I was eating, but I wasn’t going to do it in a way that was going to undo all the emotional progress I’ve made since I embarked on this intuitive eating and self-love journey.
As women, our self-worth is tied to how well we provide: If our children are happy, we’re a good mother. If our husband is happy, we’re a good wife.
But where does our happiness come in?
Coming to terms with this has been hard. My husband has been struggling. Has been for a while. He’s, unfortunately, stuck in a trade he no longer enjoys and yet has been working at for a very long time. He goes through periods of depression and general unhappiness. He just turned 47 and I know he struggles with lack of accomplishment in his life. Everything he thought he’d have accomplished by now he hasn’t. Men are supposed to be the “bread winner” and yet through most of our marriage, I have earned more. I don’t care, but I know he does. It has taken me a VERY long time to come to terms of my husband’s happiness having NOTHING to do with me. Yes, it does a little as we’re a union – a partnership – but when it comes down to HIS happiness – what he has or has not done with his life – has nothing to do with me.
I am NOT responsible to making HIM happy. HE is responsible to making HIMSELF happy.
And that happiness should NEVER be tied to what other people think of him. He’s unhappy with his work and a lot of it comes down to management; people in charge tend to only tell employees when they’re doing something wrong, rarely when they do something right. Unfortunately, he puts too much value in other people’s opinions of him. And unfortunately, he’s trying to overcome decades of believing he’s not good enough.
As a child, thoughts and opinions of ourselves develop very early. We go to school and we get graded in our work. We take home report cards for our parents to sign – so they can acknowledge how well their child or teen is/is not doing in school. The story my husband tells me is that he brought a report card home and he had all A’s but one C+… his mom (might be his dad, I can’t remember) commented on the C+, ignoring the A’s. The next report card he brought home, he had brought the C+ up to an A, but one of the previous A’s had dropped to a B+… and the response he got was “what happened to that other A?”. No acknowledgement about the improvement, just pointing out the deficiency. After that, he figured that nothing was going to be good enough, so why bother trying? He’s a perfectionist who doesn’t think he’s good enough.
It’s hard to undo decades of learned behavior and reactions. I have made a LOT of progress with this as I dissected my whole being. I addressed damaging behavior and habits. I took a SERIOUS, scary, look into the very core of my soul and I started repairing decades of damage caused by myself and others. And I slowly – very slowly – found my authentic Self.
It’s still challenging, though… there’s still that fear of feeling judged. I want to do more photos – for my website, blog, and IG – and I love being in front of the camera – but there is an embarrassment of being in front of the camera; of “modelling” as I’ve never felt… pretty enough. I don’t model in public (though I know I’m going to have to get over that for the content I want to create!) and even taking selfies, I do it VERY quickly and (hopefully) with no one being the wiser! I hate the idea of people thinking I’m vain – because I don’t believe I am. I put very little effort in my physical appearance – I might do my hair (mostly because it’s the length that’s starting to get unruly) but I rarely wear makeup, and I don’t wear trendy clothes – if I feel like splurging, I go to Winners or Marshall’s, otherwise it’s Walmart or Superstore – and that’s only because I haven’t found any awesome second hand/thrift/consignment stores!
I’d sooner spend money on crystals or books than on makeup or clothing! Or at least not like I used to! When I was in my 20’s, I literally had thousands of dollars on makeup and eyeshadow in every color of the rainbow! Now, i look for color palettes to give me the best bang for my buck!
It is SO stinking hard to get outside of your comfort zone, but I’m learning that it is essential to continue to grow. Going against YEARS of limiting beliefs is scary as hell!
But I can tell you, it’ll be worth it!