What if you’re already enough?
I turned 40 in December. Naturally, I know a lot of other friends who’ve recently turned 40 or are about to turn 40. I’ve heard so many women say that the 40’s was their favorite decade. I can see that will be true for me as well. I’ve also seen a lot of women feel stressed going into a new decade. It makes me sad. In a text conversation last week with a friend, she wrote to me “My goal is to be my absolute best self by 40!” The statement made me almost fall off my chair – if you knew this woman, you would just die of pride. She is everything! She’s a strong leader, a good friend, a great mom, So Accomplished! It literally took my breath away. That statement triggered something in my heart. It first triggered a memory of a not so distance past where I felt the same way, always in a pursuit to change myself. Then it triggered a protective response, I wanted to say “Don’t talk about this amazing woman with anything less than total awe and gratitude. However, my actual response was to simply offer “you already are your best self.” It wasn’t just the nice thing to respond with, I meant it with my whole being. She is already enough.
Three years ago, if someone would have said that to me, I would have immediately responded with some sort of agreement as to the areas of myself that I needed to improve. “Yes, I’m with you. This year I want to lose weight, improve my work results, drink more water, add mileage, be a better mom and of course, clean up my diet.” As an afterthought, I’d throw in some sort of spiritual goals just to make sure the person on the other side of the table knew how holistic I was when it came to my overall mental, spiritual and physical health. I knew this game well. Let’s make sure that we aren’t just self-hating in the privacy of our own minds and hearts, let’s make sure that we self-hate as a community of women. If we self-hate in community, in a weird way, we’re actually encouraging each other…WTH! I look back on this now and want to grab that woman, pull her into a bear hug and tell her over and over “Elena, you are already enough!”
In sales, business and in professional circles, we call this behavior “negative self-talk.” I actually think that dilutes the actual behavior. It isn’t just negative self-talk. It’s self-hate and self-bullying. If we perpetually treated and talked to other people the way we treat and talk to ourselves, it would be considered verbal abuse. Can you imagine talking to your child or a colleague the way you talk to yourself when you see the wrong angle of yourself in the mirror? By the way, your hubby/wife/significant other/stranger passing you on the street, sees that “bad angle” and absolutely adores it.
There was a specific day when I realized that my self-hate had gone too far. I could hardly think about myself without infusing some sort of garbage into my internal dialogue. I decided it was time to invest in myself and hire a therapist. I knew, in my actual brain, that there was a better way to love myself. I just didn’t know how to get there. I felt removed from the person I wanted to be and I wasn’t getting closer, I was traveling farther away.
During one of our sessions, my therapist asked me to walk through my typical morning and think about the thoughts I was thinking about myself. [Side note, if you aren’t thinking about what you’re thinking about, take this as a nudge. You need to start today.] She started the exercise and asked me to reflect on my day. We started as soon as my alarm went off. I hit snooze two times. “If you were as disciplined as your peers, you’d already be downstairs working out.” I walk into the kitchen to grab coffee. “If you were really committed to your health, you would be drinking green tea and you certainly wouldn’t be using heavy cream in your coffee.” I should have recognized this as an extreme call for help. Who is this woman and what’s her beef against God’s sincere and thoughtful gift to coffee…heavy cream? I get into the shower and see my naked reflection in the mirror. “You have completely let yourself go. You’ll never look as good as Karen. Mike probably isn’t even attracted to you anymore.” My boys get up and eat breakfast. “If you were a better mom, you’d serve them a balanced breakfast of protein, healthy fat, whole grains and fruits/veggies. You don’t have time to serve them a better breakfast because you’re prioritizing your work over your children. Do you even track how much fiber they’re getting?” Open email and read random message from boss, consultant, or colleague. “If you prioritized your work, you could drive better results. You’re letting the company down. You have x hours/days/weeks/months/years to hit xyz strategic goal, and you’re behind. Hire a nanny and home manager/personal assistant. Another option would be to enter into polygamous relationship and marry a wife to do this work. This is why your male colleagues with a full-time wife can do more than you. You need to be better. You are your results.”
This was all within the first hour of being awake. I’m so sad even writing these words.
My therapist then asked me to observe myself and my thoughts as an objective third party. How do I see Elena? How would I observe her in her marriage, in parenting, in community, in her work and her in self-love? What would I think about her as she walked through her typical morning? When I started to think about Elena from an objective perspective, the tears started to roll down my face. I was so proud of her. She was so sincere in her approach to life. She was trying so hard. She was carrying so much and she still had the desire to serve and love others more. She was striving to grow in her faith. She was doing such a good job as a momma – her boys are so well loved and growing in their faith. She prioritizes her marriage and tries to honor her husband. She cares about her work and her company. She worked so incredibly hard to drive results. She should be so proud. Why isn’t she proud? As I write these words now, the tears come back again because I remember the flood of self-compassion rushing into my perspective. How could I not see how wonderful this woman is? How could I treat her so poorly? How could I talk to her the way I was talking to her? Give her the self-love she deserves! She is already enough!
That Tuesday afternoon, sitting on the stereotypical therapy couch, crying my eyes out, was the day I made the decision to end my self-hate. I was on a mission to sincerely love myself. I finally realized, I was already enough. It wasn’t a magical moment though. It was more of a start of a journey, a journey I’m still on frankly. In weeks to come, I will share more about what that journey looked like at the beginning and how it looks now. It’s a decision I make every day to make sure the way I see myself is a reflection of how God sees me. When I see myself through God’s eyes, I see how wonderful he made me. I see the gifts and abilities he’s given me. I hold the gifts and abilities sacred. I steward them well in order to live out my purpose. I am exactly already enough to be loved and to love others. It’s a daily decision to be intentional about the way I talk to myself and think about myself.
How are you seeing yourself and talking to yourself? Is it with love and appreciation? Gosh, I hope you’re so much farther in this journey than I am. I hope you see yourself like the queen you are. I hope you catch your reflection and sing “This Girl is on Fire” (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention here that self love will also only enhance your karaoke skillz, so that’s also a valid reason to do pretty much anything). I hope you’re so far in this journey you’re already leading others. If not, please start. Share the message. There are billion dollar industries benefiting from you and I engaging in self hate. The are benefitting – no one else is. Can we start normalizing women appreciating and loving ourselves? What would happen if you believed you were already enough? How much more time, money, energy would you have to do amazing things in the world? I think it would be a lot!
I want to encourage this community today to think about the way you are thinking about yourself. How are you talking to yourself? Are you engaging in self-hate? Or are you on mission to sincerely love yourself? How can you EncourageYou? What would happen if you sincerely loved yourself? Would you be happier? Would you have healthier relationships? Would you demand more respect? Would you produce better fruit in work, community, your family, your faith? Here are some things that helped me.
- Take the time to do the exercise I shared earlier. Take an hour and walk through your day. What are the things you are thinking about yourself? What are the things you are saying to yourself?
- Write a letter to yourself from an objective third party? How do you see yourself? How do you see your intentions and results?
- Even more powerful, if you are a person of faith, write a love letter to yourself from God’s perspective. This is actually life changing. At some point, I will share my love letter with this community.
I also want to encourage you to EncourageHer. Is there a woman in your life that needs to hear from you how much she is loved? Does she need to hear from you about how you see her trying so hard. Does she need to hear that she’s already enough? Is this your wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, neighbor? Could you take a moment to send her a text, give her a call, write her an email, or drive to her home and tell her face to face.
I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!