Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

Humble Confidence

I don’t want to brag, but…

I am smart.

I am beautiful.

I am thoughtful.

I am hard-working.

I am stubborn.

I am sarcastic.

I am funny.

I am tough.

I am strong.

I am…a million different things.

Just because I am all of these things, doesn’t mean that you aren’t, too.

The dangerous trend, that honestly has probably been around since nearly the dawn of time, is that to have self-confidence, one must also put others down, to highlight just how awesome we are.  You can’t be nearly as awesome as me, because you suck, and I smell like roses.

And, oh, how many times in my life have I fallen victim to this???

How many times do I still fall victim to this???

Insecurity.  Insecurity in ourselves, in how the world perceives us, in who we are.  Insecurity causes so many challenges.  Some people, like me, respond to this by shutting down.  I start to believe all of those negative comments that people make, because I believe in how they are talking to me, talking about me.  I believe them.  And I shut down.

The other response is to be one of those people who put others down.  There are varying degrees of this.  Sometimes this can come across as a very polite comment, but the truth of what is said is a criticism.  Other times it is very blatant, rude and meant to hurt.  And still other times, an insecure narcissist can be outright damaging, both physically and emotionally, to other people.

  • “You might as well just go to the nursing home and marry an 80 year old man, because no one else will ever want to marry you.”
  • “Why would you wear that?”
  • “That’s hysterical that you think you can write a book.”
  • “You just don’t know what you’re talking about.”
  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “You’re ugly.”
  • “You’re fat.”
  • “You smile too much.”
  • “What do you have to be so happy about?”

All of these things have been said to me, and then some!  And when I heard them, they hurt.  And I started to believe them…

 

One of my own personal struggles is that I don’t know how to walk the very fine line of between being humble and egotistical, confident and coward.  It is a very fine line.  And I tend to fall on the negative side of the line.

Even still today.

I know, and honestly do believe all of the qualities that I listed above.  I believe all of them with my whole heart.

But the tendency to believe that negative inner monologue still afflicts me.

And oh how many times have I stopped myself from doing something because someone else made me feel inferior.  Sometimes, it’s the actions of other people directly putting me down.  Sometimes, I see how amazing other people are, and think that there isn’t possibly a way I could do that, so why should I even try?

Even if I don’t always realize it, even if I don’t always see it, I know, deep down (sometimes way, way, way deep down) that my life has a purpose.  That even if other people can do awesome and amazing things, so can I!

So instead of tearing each other down, let’s just stop.  Stop it all.  Stop the negative talk.  Stop the criticism.  Stop the judgement.  Stop believing that we are horrible people.

Yes, it is easy to compare ourselves to everyone else.

But just because I’m awesome, doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome, too!

Awesomeness isn’t mutually exclusive.  There isn’t just one awesome award that gets handed out in life.

Ope, I won the Awesome Award this week, sorry ’boutcha!

Life doesn’t work like that!

So join me in being a cheerleader for life.

Build each other up.

Compliment instead of criticize.

We just might change the world.

 

The Running Monologue

I’m not good enough.

I’m not pretty enough.

He would never notice me.

He would never be interested in me.

I’m not thin enough.

All of these negative thoughts, and then some, have filtered through my head in the past 12 hours.  They hit me like a flood.  All of those supposed truths that I used to believe.  And they hit hard enough that I almost started to believe them again.

I had to give myself a pep talk this morning in the shower.  That I am good enough.  I am beautiful.  And that I am a catch.  And if some guy is too dumb to realize all of those things, then he isn’t the one for me.

But this whole incident has prompted me to do a little self-reflection on why all of those thoughts came flooding back through my brain.  And I came up with a couple of reasonable ideas.

  1. I’m exhausted, mentally and physically.  I’ve had a long, stressful week.  And it seems like the devil knows just when to pounce.
  2. I am mistaking God’s inactivity for a lack of approval.

I get it that waiting just sucks.  I will be the first one to admit that.  I don’t enjoy being patient.  I never have.  But just because God is saying “not yet” does not mean that the answer is no.  Or even worse, that the answer is that I don’t deserve it.  Or I’m not worthy of it.

Because, news flash, none of us are worthy of the love that God showers on us every day.  And let’s not talk about what we deserve!  Because I guarantee that God is saving me from a whole long list of things that I probably actually deserve.  But He is kind and gentle and loving, and He has chosen me, He has saved me from all of those nasty things that I do deserve.

So, pep talk accomplished.  But I still need more coffee.

Happy Monday!!!

I Apologize If This Is TMI

I have this thing.  This…I don’t really want to call it a disease, because that gives such a horrible connotation that it just isn’t fitting.  I recently shared that I have been sick, and in a near zombie-like state for a few months. And I also recently got a diagnosis, and medication that brought me out of the zombie apocalypse.  

I have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

A big shout out and thank you to my parents, who so lovingly passed along basically every negative possible genetic feature in our family to me.  Including a family favorite from my mom…being difficult to diagnose. This resulted in me being sick for months 9 years ago, I mean months (an another zombie apocalypse) upon months, of not being able to figure out what was wrong with me.  My Dr. was at a complete loss, and was about to start the process of referring me to a psychologist because she thought it was a mental problem, when, during a last ditch effort to determine a physical cause, they discovered I had gallstones.  What should have been a simple diagnosis took months to figure out.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention, I did get one positive genetic trait.  From the dad. He didn’t noticeably get gray hair until he was 60.  I have had 11 gray hairs so far. So there, I did get something good from my parents.

Anyway…when I went to the Dr. a few months ago with some abdominal pain, I wasn’t optimistic about finding the cause.  Turns out, I had a cyst on my right ovary. Simple enough, with a simple enough solution. Birth control. Ok, no big deal.

I went back for a follow up 3 months later, and told my Dr. I had only started feeling like anything close to a human being a couple of weeks before.  Honestly, all I was capable of accomplishing was trudging to work, and I could not wait to go home, where I was a vegetable, until I decided it was finally an acceptable time to go to bed.  Even mundane tasks, like grocery shopping, felt overwhelming, and required too much energy.

My Dr. wasn’t happy in hearing that I still wasn’t feeling better, and took a look at the test results, and determined I had PCOS.  And prescribed Metformin, which is normally prescribed for Type 2 Diabetes. Well, of course I have a family history of Diabetes (on both sides of the family) so there is already a good chance I’m going to end up being Diabetic.  So let’s just try to prevent that as long as possible.

It took almost 2 weeks of being on Metformin for me to honestly and truly start feeling like a human being again.  The first couple of days, I couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe it was a fluke, and any day I would end up feeling like a zombie again.  

A little over a month later, and I’m feeling more confident that it wasn’t just a fluke.

And I also feel like this is just one more negative genetic feature my parents (my mom) have passed along to me.  

My mom was never diagnosed with PCOS, and 20 years after a hysterectomy is far too late for a retroactive diagnosis.  But that being said, knowing what we know now, there is a high likelihood that she did have it. One of the things that she and I have been plagued with is horrible hormonal mood swings.  She has even made the comment many times that she’s amazed that she still has a family left because of how bad her hormones were. Honestly, she’s not wrong. It was tough growing up with that.  And it caused a strain on our relationship. And to be honest, a great deal of my lack of self-confidence came as a result of her mood swings.

Now, don’t think I’m throwing my mom under the bus.  This is something that we have dealt with. And we have a wonderful relationship now, and she is one of my best friends.  And maybe we are so close now because we have appropriately dealt with our issues from when I was a kid.

But now I look back on my life, with such a different perspective than before.  I have much more compassion toward my mom now, knowing that what happened wasn’t a result of her being completely unhinged and outrageous.  

For many, many years I honestly wasn’t sure if I even wanted to have children, because I didn’t want to be the same type of mom that I had growing up.  I wanted something better. And I wasn’t sure if I could be such a person.

As I have gotten older, I have realized that I do, in fact, want to be a mom…and I’m hoping that at the ripe old age of 37 (and being ridiculously single) that it isn’t too late for me.  

But also, maybe the fact that I haven’t had children yet is God answering my prayers from when I was younger.  I didn’t, and still don’t, want to be the type of mom I had growing up. And maybe it took this diagnosis for that to truly come to fruition.  

I also look back and wish that this could have been diagnosed at a much younger age, because maybe I wouldn’t have went through some of the things that I have been through in my life.  Because I have felt the hormone swings before, felt completely unhinged and outrageous. When I had brought it up to Dr’s previously, the initial reaction was to put me on Prozac. Which didn’t really make sense to me at the time, but I was desperate enough to try it.  

After a few months of realizing that the side effects of the medicine were horrific, in addition to the fact that it did absolutely NOTHING to solve the problem it was prescribed for, I stopped taking it.

And then I just tried to deal with the hormones.

Honestly, it is no surprise that I have struggled with my weight my entire life.  Because I have moments where I just cannot eat enough food. I am a bottomless pit.  And no amount of water I drink, or trying to talk myself out of eating anything has worked.  So I go through a vicious cycle of eating everything under the sun, and gaining weight, and then feeling guilty for eating everything under the sun and beating myself up for doing that.  Over, and over, and over, and over again.

Looking through the symptoms of PCOS…weight gain, fatigue, acne, pelvic pain, headaches, sleep problems…I can check all of those (and more) off.  Irregular periods, mood swings…check and check!

So where I thought I was just crazy, and needed to spend a little more time with Jesus, now I know that there actually is something wrong with me.  But even better, it can be fixed! At least, I hope it can be fixed.

So here’s the deal…this is still new.  Yes, I’m starting to feel like a normal human being again.  But I have a lot to learn about how to handle myself now.

For example, once I started feeling better, but still dealing with some of the hormone swings, I started eating.  And eating and eating and eating. I gained back nearly all of the weight I had lost being sick. And I beat myself up over it, a lot.  Hence the journey I’m currently in the middle of, banishing my scale.

But also, I have started exercising a lot more.  Basically, Cheese the dog and I are walking our tails off.  The weather is finally starting to swing in our favor, and between the nasty winter weather, and being sick, I have been cooped up for too long, and I hate it.  So, a huge and immediate increase in working out has thrown off my nutrition. I am keeping track of my calories, and I increased (slightly) the amount of calories I have been eating daily.  BUT, I don’t think I have upped that number enough. A couple of times in the past few days, I have felt shaky, and light headed. And I wondered if maybe low blood sugar was the culprit. Or if I simply am just not eating enough food to counterbalance the increase in activity level.  But, I’m bound and determined not to give up. So hopefully we can figure this out. Cheese enjoys the walks, and the time spent with mommy. I enjoy the walks, and being outside. And honestly, just being active feels amazing.

But I am also smart enough to know that I am not all the way there yet, and I may need to change some things up in my daily routine before all of this is said and done.  

So…here’s to more progress, even if they are baby steps.  

8 days down.  34 to go.

Be Gone, Evil Thing!!

Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a practicing Catholic.  I was raised in a small town, with a large Catholic population. And I have been to a couple of Catholic weddings in my life.  That is the extent of my relationship to the Catholic Church.

Banish: to compel to depart; send, drive, or put away.

Have you ever stopped, and realized that God has been working in your life, and answering your prayers, and you didn’t even realize it?

That happened to me.  This morning.

There are a lot of different pieces involved in this realization happening.  So I am going to attempt to be concise with the summary.  Yes, I said attempt.

I have always struggled with my weight.  I grew up the fat kid. And I was miserable.  And then I ended up the obese woman (weighing in at nearly 300 pounds).  And was even more miserable. And over the years, I ran the gamut of every single eating disorder possible.  

Every.  Single. One.

And (yikes) 13 years ago, I decided to do something about it.  I joined Weight Watchers, and lost a bunch of weight. And then I started running.  And then I turned into a marathon runner. All good things.

But over the years, no matter what, I have been obsessed with my weight.  I will say that when I was training for marathons, the number mattered a little less, because you know what, I could run 26.2 miles.  

But the number still mattered.

And a little over a year ago, I was uncomfortable.  I had been through a tough year, and I had gained weight.  Granted, I hadn’t crested 200 pounds, but I was getting close.  So I once again joined Weight Watchers, and I lost some weight.

I’m not getting paid to say this.  I think Weight Watchers is amazing.  Going to the meetings, which do, in fact, feel like an AA meeting, only for food, are wonderful.  The community is so supportive. It’s fantastic. Even though I’m not currently a member, I still think it’s amazing.  

Anyway…moving on.

A few months ago, I got sick.  In the grand scheme of things, what ended up being the cause of my illness isn’t horrific.  There are many, many, MANY things worse than what I went through. What I’m still recovering from.  The point is, I was sick. And I felt like a zombie ALL THE TIME.  And what happens when you’re sick, and you feel like a zombie? You often lose weight.

I lost weight.  

I wasn’t sad about it.  Because, I’m obsessed with the number on the scale.  

A month ago, I finally got a diagnosis.  And I got medicine. And a couple of weeks ago, I woke up one morning, and I DIDN’T feel like a zombie.  

One, unfortunate, side effect of the medicine is it can affect your stomach, mildly.  But honestly, I don’t care.

EXCEPT…it made the number on the scale go up.

For several days, I struggled.  Because there is a balance. I feel like a normal human being, but the number on the scale is going up.  And, being my own worst critic, I felt my self-worth being lowered, and lowered, and lowered. Because of the number on the scale.

So, I banished my scale.

Me.  The girl who has weighed herself every morning for years.  

I banished my scale.

Because, at the same time, other things were going on in my life.  

I made the conscious decision to make a greater effort to actually spend dedicated time reading my Bible.  And at the same time, I have been praying for God’s guidance on what I should do with my life. And let’s be real honest, I prayed for God to help me get my eating under control.  

You know, one of those prayers where I focus more on what I want than what God really wants me to do.

Guilty.  As. Charged.

One of the other things that I have consciously been praying for on Sunday morning’s before I go to church, is that God helps me hear the message He wants me to hear that day.  And since I started praying for that on Sunday morning’s my listening skills have improved during the sermon at church.

I’m going to say that 99.99% of the time, that the message I take away from the sermon isn’t what the pastor intends for the purpose of that sermon to be.

But it is ALWAYS the message that I need to hear.

That happened yesterday.

The sermon series that we are currently in is focusing on 1 Timothy.  Yesterday specifically talked about the end of Chapter 3, and Chapter 4.  One verse stood out to me. It also helped that the pastor made a joke about this particular verse.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

Train yourself to be godly.

Physical training is of some value.

Godliness has value for all things.

Ok, so the joke the pastor made yesterday was about how since it’s RIGHT THERE IN THE BIBLE, that physical training isn’t everything…go ahead and eat the donut.

Except, I personally think donuts are disgusting.  And if (when) I fall to the sin of gluttony, it’s not going to be a donut.  Mexican food. Brownies. Yes. Donuts, no.

Oh, I forgot to mention…even though I banished my scale, I did weigh myself yesterday morning.  I nearly cried when I saw the number. But I weighed myself.

I haven’t even gained all of the weight back that I lost being sick.  And I almost cried. Because I gained weight.

Because I tied my self worth to a number on the scale.

So during the sermon yesterday, seeing the words Paul wrote in 1 Timothy about the qualities of what a leader should have, I made a decision.

The fact that we are currently less than a week into Lent is purely coincidental.  But having several Catholics in my circle of people, it has been a topic of discussion lately.  In addition, my BFF, also a non-Catholic, has decided over the past few years, to participate in giving something up for Lent, more as a test of her willpower.

So that got me thinking.  Which, obviously, can be dangerous at times.

I have never participated in Lent, or giving something up during Lent.  

And my own personal religion focuses more on your relationship with God rather than rituals just for the sake of rituals.

But I understand the concept of Lent, and believe that when done appropriately, it’s a cool thing.

So, the concept here is that you give something up to replicate the suffering that Jesus went through for 40 days in the desert.  

But what if we looked at it this way…

Giving something up for God.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m semi-permanently banishing my scale.  I’m going to focus more on my relationship with God than I do my relationship with my scale.  Because God is the one that provides me with the self-worth and self-confidence. A number on the scale, that’s not telling you (or me) all of the wonderful things that God has gifted me with.

I spent some time yesterday trying to lay out the “rules” during this scale banishment.  Do I just focus on eating healthy food and exercising? Do I still count calories? Do I just forget about weighing myself, and let the chips fall where they may?

Well, knowing myself like I do, I knew a few guidelines still needed to apply.  Because if I go out there unrestricted, I’m going to forget about any of the physical training.  It’s going to be chips and salsa all day. Only to be interrupted by brownies and cookies.

That isn’t going to accomplish the goal.

Over the past 24 hours, I have refined some of the guidelines that I am going into this with.  I am still going to allow myself to track calories. But only as a way to keep myself in check so I don’t go all full gluttony.  But I’m also not going to beat myself up for indulging in some Mexican food.  But I’m not going to weigh myself. I’m sure over the next few weeks, some of those guidelines may (will) change. But I’m flexible like that.  And right now, I’m thinking if I can hold off until Easter (I mean, it is that time of year), I will allow myself to weigh in again. But my hope is that by then, I won’t care enough to do it.

A very sad thought went through my brain yesterday on my way to church.  I was horrified at the thought of what would happen if someone invited me to go to lunch after church?  And of course, that was going to blow my getting back on track. And then I was going to get down on myself because I blew my calorie budget for the day.  Do you have any idea how far I would have to walk to work off all of that food? And I’m NEVER going to lose weight if that happens!!

Did you just read that?  How depressing is that? I was putting myself down, over going out to eat.  After church. With friends.

So I made a command decision to knock that off.  

Yes, I want to put healthy things in my body.  But I NEED to do healthy things for my soul.

You know how sometimes God just puts words in front of you sometimes, and you read through it.  And then you read it again. And it just hits you so deep in your soul that you know the only way those particular words could have been put in front of you at that exact moment was God.  It’s a God thing.  That happened this morning. Do you know Lysa TerKeurst? Have you read the things she writes? I haven’t met her. But her honesty, and willingness to share about her own messy life, and remaining one of God’s girls just hits my soul on a regular basis.  This morning, I read a prayer she wrote.

“Dear Lord, help me to see myself the way You see me.  Remove the lies that defeat me more often than I want to acknowledge.  You have set me free. Help me live like I truly believe that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Lysa, thank you for writing the thing that I needed to read today.  

Because God created me.  God created me exactly how I am.  And God loves me. For exactly who I am.  

Not one person, not one single person, doesn’t need to hear that.  Understand it.

God.  Loves.  Me.

And that’s the most important thing.