Holidays are fast approaching! This can be a very exciting time of the year. However, much stress also comes with it because many of us are faced with increased expectations ranging from how we act to what our careers are.
You arrive to the huge family Thanksgiving get together and you are bombarded with questions such as “Who are you dating? When are you getting married? When are you having kids? and What is your job?” Many people ask us these questions with good intentions, but for some, these questions lead to anxiety and perhaps even anger. Why do people always want to know about us?! Yes, it is fine to be asked these questions, but the line is crossed when a particular answer is expected such as “We are getting married in June this coming year”. Great it if stops there. However, what about when we state, “We aren’t getting married” or “We aren’t going to have kids.” Let the games begin now! Here comes the intrusive questions and comments such as “Why not?” and “Everyone should have kids.” I am not trying to be cynical here, but let’s face it, at some point in time, someone has said something like this to us. My goal for this blog is to help you learn to embrace and love yourself just the way you are as well as learning to be comfortable with expressing this to others.
We are constantly getting messages about who we should be and how we should be. Examples of this include: how we should dress, how we should act, what we should do for a living, and who we should spend our time with to name just a few. I find this to be quite overwhelming and frustrating! It is impossible to meet the standards of everyone because everyone has different opinions and expectations. One thing is for certain though: if we continue to attempt to meet the standards and expectations of others, we will neglect our own needs and desires. We will lose who we are and our own unique identity. Individuality is an awesome thing, so why do we try so hard to conform?! Great question- but there is not one answer for it. Perhaps, we are a people pleasure or want to fit in and be accepted. Again, if we are trying to please others, we are surely not going to be able to please everyone and we will simply upset ourselves and develop resentments towards those that we are trying to please at the expense of our happiness and true self.
So, what do we do about this? Well, of course, we become and remain faithful to our individual and unique selves. Simple right? Not so fast….if it was only that easy, would we not be doing it already? Are we afraid of rejection? Are we unsure of who we are and want to be? Bottom line, with all the societal pressures that we constantly face, it is hard to know who we truly are and like who we are. Many of us have different personas for different situations. For example, at work, we may be reserved and organized for that is what is expected of us. At home, we may be very assertive (often described as bossy and controlling) so that all household chores are done and done well. However, when we are with friends, often we can laugh freely and have fun for this is a time for it. These are just a few of the many “masks/hats” that we wear. This seems like a lot of work, exhausting, and frustrating.
Here are some strategies to help us embrace and love our “true” selves:
1. Identify what you LIKE about YOURSELF. I know this is not something that many of us think about often, but it is important to do so. We all have great characteristics such as being a good writer or a sense of humor.
2. Identify what you LOVE about YOURSELF. This is even harder to identify and accept than what we like about ourselves but trust me, it is possible. When I say love, I mean what do you find about yourself that you greatly enjoy and appreciate about yourself. Perhaps, you love your caring nature, or your artistic flair. You can read more about loving yourself in the Being Your Own Valentine Blog here.
3. Identify where YOU want to be in YOUR life. Do you want to be a parent? Do you want a career? Do you want to live abroad? Bottom line, this is about what you want and need and not what others want from you or for you to do. Think about what will make you feel happy and fulfilled in YOUR life.
4. Just say no! Yes, it sounds like the anti-drug commercials in the 1980’s but it is true. It is ok to say no, and we should do so more often. For example, you are asked to take on a new project at work. If we say yes, we face resentments and frustrations of having to add more work to our overly full schedule. To say no often leads to feelings of guilt. Why do we feel guilty for saying no? Good question and the answer is, there is no reason to feel guilty for saying no when that is what we want to say! You can read more about this in the Self care blog.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others! Again, easier said than done! We all have compared ourselves to others and have been groomed to do so in all areas of our lives….salary, education, relationship status, etc. So instead of comparing ourselves with others, focus on our growth and positive changes that we have made within ourselves.
6. Make good self care activities a priority daily! Practicing good self care is not something you do once a week or once a month as a reward for hard work. Rather, it is a must to do daily, in fact, at all times. Some examples include reading, meditation, pet therapy, and listening to/playing music.
7. Don’t always be the one to compromise! Compromising is great; but, is it truly compromise when you are the only one willing to compromise? Speak your thoughts and feelings openly, honestly, and assertively.
8. Believe in yourself! Practice saying “yes I can and yes I will”. Things may take times and there may be setbacks in your life but you can and will do it. I love Dr. Seuss’s book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”. This is great to read and believe.
9. Express your thoughts and feelings openly. No need to filter your thoughts and feelings to protect others. When we minimize our feelings and emotions, we continue to harm ourselves. If someone is unable to or unwilling to hear and process your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, look for someone who can and will listen to you such as a trusted friend and/or therapist.
10. Accept and embrace imperfection. No one is perfect and that is ok! This allows up to grow and make positive changes. For example, instead of viewing an error as a mistake, view it as a learning experience such as you put too much sugar in a cake and instead of “beating yourself up” about it, make a note in the recipe that next time use less sugar. No harm done. You can read more about perfectionism in the Perfectionism blog here.
How do you accept yourself? What will you do to embrace yourself more? We are here to help you!