(That's my sister Jessie on the left and me on the right)
I think we all know it is important to love ourselves, right? But do our actions and how we treat ourselves show that? Do our thoughts about ourselves convey love and acceptance?
I have no problem loving those around me. I try to forgive. I try to be encouraging. I try to overlook mistakes.
Do I take that same care for myself? No. I am my toughest critic.Many of us are like this. Why?
Why are we so hard on ourselves? Would we talk to our best friends with the mental abuse we are constantly telling ourselves?
You look into the mirror. What do you say to yourself? 'I am beautiful. I am a child of God. I am a work of art. I am healthy'. No, we say things like 'Why are you wearing this shirt. You look so fat. I am never going to be good enough. Maybe I should dye my hair, again. I need a new wardrobe. I'll never be as pretty as her'.
I beat myself up all the time. If I eat ice cream, whoops, this is the beginning of a downward spiral of sugary torture for me. I'm going to gain ten pounds for that bite, and another five for that bite. I have failed at another diet attempt.
When I feel stress I tell myself I'm weak. I obviously can't handle the pressure of life. Everyone else seems to be doing alright.
I don't have a high-paying job. Well I just wasted my college education. If I were really serious about doing something with my life I would pursue a better career. A more important career.
I know the way we talk to ourselves. And let me tell you, it's wrong. It's a lie. It's cruel.
I want to encourage you to take note of when you are putting yourself down. The next time you notice yourself doing this, try a little exercise.
Close your eyes Picture yourself as a little five-year-old girl (or boy) See yourself giggling, laughing, playing Talk to your younger self Tell your five-year-old self everything you belive about him or her (you're beautiful, you're innocent in God's eyes, you're gonna be okay, you're strong, you're not a failure) Realize you are still that person! I love this exercise because something about it is so beautiful. We would NEVER say the hateful things we say to ourselves now if we were talking to an innocent child. That's how we need to see ourselves because that's how the Lord sees us. Do you believe that?
Here's a love letter I wrote to my five-year-old self:
Dear freckle-faced Ashley,
You are so pretty. Your red hair is so unique and beautiful. Who cares if you ever get teased for it, one day you will love and embrace it. In fact, you'll have many friends who dye their hair red. Oh and your freckles, you'll learn to love them, too. Your husband will absolutely adore them on your face.
You're shy, and that's okay. It doesn't make you wrong. You don't have anything to prove. Just because you are too afraid to talk in front of new people all the time doesn't mean you won't have great friends. You will have the best friends any girl could ever hope for. Be patient. God will bring them to you at just the right time.
You might have some trouble showing emotion. You're not weird. It can be hard to express yourself and cry in front of others. You'll keep learning how to do this.
You get nervous sometimes. And there will be times in life when you feel really nervous and anxious- but you'll survive. You are strong. You will get through it all and God will be so proud of you for not self-medicating or doing anything destructive. You will have all the tools you need. In fact, you already have all the tools you need. You just don't know it.
I'm sorry for the way I have treated you lately. I've been critical and hateful. It's just, the world is clouding my view. I can't see you clearly sometimes. I need to be reminded of your beauty. I need to be reminded of your joy. I am hurting you and don't even realize it. I blame you for being weak. You're not weak. You are so unquestionably human. I ridicule your appearance. All you want to do is be seen as you truly are- a beautiful little girl.
I promise to try and be more kind.
What would you like to say to your five-year-old self?