We teach our children to be kind. We teach them how to use their manners, to be polite, and to always treat their friends and family in a loving way. From a young age, we tell them to “treat others how you want to be treated” and to always “think about your words before you say them.”
So why is it that after all of this, we are so hard on ourselves? As women, and some of us are also mothers, we are so quick to put ourselves down, nit pick every little thing we do, and judge ourselves so harshly? Would we ever be so hard on our daughters? Would we ever speak to them the way we speak to ourselves? I would bet that 100% of us would say…never in a million years. So why are we tearing ourselves down? Why are we not celebrating our strengths, our accomplishments, our success? It’s all in our mindset and unfortunately when stressed and overwhelmed, particularly in motherhood, we tend to drift towards the negative. How can we change this? How can we set a better example for our daughters (and sons!) and break the cycle of self loathing?
Let’s take a step back from the heavy stuff for a minute. I love pop culture. I love anything to do with celebrities, social media, movies, and Hollywood gossip. My friends used to joke that I was the queen of useless information. Ask me a trivia question about pop culture from the 80’s or 90’s and I’ll usually know the answer. Not really sure if this is cute or embarrassing, but it’s who I am. Anyway, I was recently watching an interview with Kendall Jenner the other day and she said that someone had told her to take one of her baby pictures and to hang it on her bathroom mirror. When she looked at herself and her baby picture, she was supposed to remember that being kind to herself was important, because whatever she said to herself now, she was saying to that little girl in the photo. I really thought about that. Sometimes my negative self-talk is so harmful and damaging that I even find myself being desensitized to it. I joke about myself in such a way that it seems harmless, but really I’m setting myself up to feel badly. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s not cute, it’s not funny, and I have to stop, especially in front of my daughter. After giving birth to three kids, I’m constantly criticizing my new body, noting all the new changes. I’ll pull and poke, all while making faces in the mirror. Would I ever do that to the young girl in the photo? Would I ever point out her insecurities and mock her for them? Absolutely not. I like to joke about how after breastfeeding my third baby, that “the girls” aren’t as fabulous as they used to be. My kids also love to poke my lower belly and say it’s squishy. Despite getting workouts in five times a week, I’ll never have a flat stomach again. I mean I could if I gave up Nutella, but I won’t ever give that up. I blame my gray hairs on my son Tristan, claim my thighs would be leaner if I ran more, and always brag how my butt can open doors when I’m pushing a stroller and can’t use my hands. The jokes come from insecurity. Anyone can see that. We’re all guilty of it. But what if we really could change our mindsets? What if we told the world that our bodies are forces of nature that could do it all! Nourish babies, take care of our whole families, run marathons, and help others on the front lines. We can coach teams, prepare dinners, fix boo boos, earn money, and counsel hurting hearts. We can, we are, and we will continue to be amazing. We need to stop focusing on what we don’t have or what we don’t like about ourselves. If we are telling this to our kids, we should be telling it to ourselves. We’re women, we are superheroes! Remember that next time you speak to yourself. Tell yourself that you’re amazing, even if your to-do list didn’t get all the check marks for the day or you forgot to sign your daughter’s permission slip. So what? What would you tell your younger self in the photo if she forgot to do her homework? You’d put your arm around her and tell her that we’re all doing the best we can and it’s no big deal. You’d smile at her and tell her that tomorrow is another day to try again. Be kind to her. She is you.