Shine From Within: WEEK THREE

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We all know that the most attractive and beautiful women are those who accept themselves, but it seems so natural and easy for them--- I’m over here zooming in on my double chin in the picture my husband just took of me and our dog!

The truth is: accepting yourself is hard-- And, if you really think about it, it should be.

Why? Because you know you are not perfect and you are intimately aware of the things that keep you from being so. Seriously, how can looking in the mirror and liking what you see be easy when you know about the mess going on in your mind, heart and every 30 days in our damn ovaries!

This is why we set ourselves up to fail when we compare ourselves to others. That girl that always looks amazing in your office, class or at church– we don’t know about the fight she’s in with her family and the terrible thing she said to her mom. We don’t know that when she looks in the mirror she pinches the skin on her stomach.

We just don’t know.

And that is why the first step to self-acceptance is not using others as our benchmark of success.

This brings me to the second step: set your own benchmark. Dream up your very own personalized version of success and turn it into goals that you can actually reach.

See, I think we are hard wired to grow and learn and blossom. I don’t think we are supposed to force ourselves to be something we are not, but I also don’t think we’re not supposed to try at all.

Does that make sense?

It’s this crazy balancing beam between beating yourself up and underestimating your abilities.

We were made for a purpose. To fill a small, but complex role in the master story. And I think we like ourselves the most when we are living into that identity. When we know we are miles away from perfect, but we are on the right path.

Here are my benchmarks, the goals I strive for to make me proud of myself at the end of the day:

  1. I want to have an actual relationship with God. Where He knows me and I know Him.

  2. I want to love my husband selflessly, to respect him, and to help him whenever I can.

  3. I want to work hard and contribute to something bigger than myself, and when I feel like I don’t have anything to contribute (which happens all the time, because I’m working in an industry that is completely foreign to me right now)  I want to contribute cheerfulness.

  4. I want to be happy and most of the time that looks like being thankful for what I have.

For some reason my physical appearance has always been my greatest obstacle to self-acceptance. I’ve forced myself to throw up and eat nothing but salads and work out multiple times a day, and I’ve done the complete opposite hiding from my physical body, pretending it’s not there. But somehow, by some miracle, I’ve come to realize that I don’t actually want to look like I always thought I wanted to.

And here’s why: I love pizza.

And what I mean by that is: I love life.

I love laughing and making-out with my husband and going for long walks with my disobedient hound-- I don’t want to miss these things, because I’m too preoccupied with disliking myself.

So, that’s how I practice self-acceptance. I start by loving God and then my husband and then the people around me, and then I smile because I realize that life is amazing and I’m doing just fine.