Halfway Point of the Self-Care Challenge: Loving Yourself

Today is Day 11 of the self-care challenge, and today’s mantra is:  “I love me, with all my strengths and human faults.”

Why am I tuning in now, after being quiet since my last post, which was day 1 of the self-care challenge?  Well, for one thing, I just got back yesterday from Disney World, having a great dose of time off away the realities of the daily grind made up of the stress of work and the cooling weather–neither of which I care for very much.   Second, we are exactly halfway through the 21-day self-care challenge and I couldn’t not set aside some time today to reach out to my blog readers.  And lastly, today’s mantra has special significance for me.

It is healthy–and actually quite critical–for each and every individual out there to value herself/himself.  Despite what you may have been told while growing up, you are important and you are able to overcome challenges at home, at school, at work, and among peers as long as you put your mind to it.   It all has to do with mindset, which is determined by heredity.  Is your personality more passive than aggressive, more shy than outgoing, more serious than humorous?  It is also determined by environmental factors, such as 1) how much you are nurtured, encouraged and supported by your parents from the time you are an infant through your teenage years, 2) the examples your parents and other elders in your life set for you, and 3) your life experiences.

Remember to focus on your strengths, realizing of course that we all do have shortcomings, as NO ONE IS PERFECT.  I’ve found that discovering your strengths doesn’t stop with the end of your school years.   You will continue to discover and build on your strengths and talents all throughout life.   Life has so much to offer.  So many different things to take interest in.  So many places to see and explore.  So much culture.  So many chances to help and make a difference for others.

I spent the majority (about 30 yrs) of my life disliking myself, not feeling like life was worth living, and incessantly comparing myself to others around me who were more attractive, smart and talented than me.  Well, first of all, remember the age-old saying “Beauty is only skin deep.”   I believe that inner beauty is far more important than physical beauty.  Physical beauty will only last you so long, but inner beauty can only get more vibrant as you become older and more mature.  While it’s very easy and tempting to compare yourself to others, don’t do it.  It’s a total waste of your time.  Every individual is unique.  Every individual has her/his own talents.

While I was in school, I felt so mediocre.  Nothing I did seemed special.  I wasn’t particularly smart enough to score consistent A’s or get scholarships.  I did well in English, but never cared to read the books I was assigned, let alone write papers about them.  I sucked at taking standardized exams, like the PSATs and SATs.  And yet, I got into a good school and am doing okay for myself today.

Aside from singing in choirs, I didn’t have any interest in art (because I suck at drawing and painting) or dancing (which I now regret).  I didn’t play sports–in fact, I hated all team sports.  I have no doubt that things would’ve been different had I not been so shy and withdrawn.  I don’t remember much of my childhood, though I do know that I was reluctant to do much of anything.   I used to think that my parents could’ve tried harder to introduce me to different things (like gymnastics, dancing or soccer) and try to figure out what I liked to do or was good at doing.  Now that I have a daughter that is also shy and withdrawn, I know that it’s not that easy to get such a child to take interest in a whole lot–even if you do your best at supporting and encouraging.    What I’ve learned is that there is a time for everything, and for some people, that time comes later in life.   I broke out of my shy shell of a person gradually through the years, but particularly once I got out of college and started finding out who I really am.  Nowadays, one would never think that I was that shy.  Put me in a roomful of strangers and I can talk to practically everyone as if I’d known them all their lives.  Just don’t put me in front of that roomful of people, and I’ll be just fine.  Yes, like many others out there, I have this fear of public speaking, which I’ve been working on by way of public speaking classes, the latest of which was an absolutely wonderful class at NYU.

As Diane and Anne are encouraging you to do, write down at least 5 things you love about yourself.   Here are my 6 things that I love about myself (and those who know me well know that I am NOT the bragging type):

1.  My ability to empathize with others

2.  My ability to write

3.  My ability to truly see and appreciate the beauty of nature and outdoor settings through photography

4.  My persistence (or shall I say perseverance)

5.  My work ethic…perhaps that is why I’ve been able to survive so many changes and a recession with 1 company for 21 years

6.  My ability to see the positive in my negative experiences, such as my postpartum depression (PPD)

Now, it’s your turn.  Don’t be bashful.

NOTE:  In case you’re wondering if I’ve digressed from the topic of PPD, I haven’t really because self care is key to one’s mental health.  My past posts on the risk factors of PPD and self care during the postpartum months all tie in to how important it is for new moms to be nurtured so they can, in turn, nurture their babies.

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