I could never have imagined the domino effect put into motion after confronting the way I see, think, and feel about myself. What began as an endeavor to cultivate a healthier sense of self while finding the inner confidence to establish personal boundaries soon blossomed into something that has, actually, brought me full circle … leaving me with a feeling I haven’t had since a kid – that of feeling comfortable in my own skin.
“Where did that kid go” was going through my mind while looking at a picture my sister had texted to me. It’s the one shown here of two bathing beauties – well, okay, it is me and my sister, CJ … as if you didn’t know. Though I don’t remember that particular day, I do know my mind would have been occupied with swimming and playing, not how I looked in my bathing suit. Though, whoa, those color coordinated suits are difficult to ignore.
It isn’t that I want to be a kid again – actually, age has never been an issue with me. I mean, it doesn’t bother me in the least to say I am 21 years old. Okay, so I’m kidding, I’m really 52 … but it is just as easy to say. What I miss about that kid has nothing to do with a number and everything to do with comfort … yes, I have to say it again … comfortable in my own skin.
Each person has their own way of defining what it means to be comfortable in their own skin. For me it involves having a sort of quiet confidence and trust weaving through whatever each day brings … decisions, thoughts, actions, etc. It isn’t something I take for granted though. There are days I feel those old insecurities creeping up behind me … nudging me into second guessing a feeling or questioning myself in some way.
However, as anyone who has worked hard improving their self image knows, we remain vulnerable to falling back into old thought patterns that quickly negate all the good accomplished. If I find I am allowing my mind to feed on insecure and/or negative thoughts I immediately stop them and analyze what is really going on. I do that by asking myself a few questions:
- What happened right before these thoughts sprang to mind?
- What, if any, hidden motive could there be for me to hang on to negative thoughts?
- Do they offer any value, any benefit, to my attitude, disposition, happiness, life?
I usually will recognize the particular “thought saboteur” after answering the first question. Oftentimes I discovered I had allowed something to stay tucked away in my mind and, for whatever reason, it tumbled out and Wham! my thoughts are wading through old emotional sludge. Suddenly I’m not feeling so comfortable in my own skin … my rating is slipping on my personal value scale … and I want to say YES! to everybody’s needs and wants while ignoring my own!
Crikey! That promptly leads me to the second question so I can stop my thoughts from shredding my sense of self any further. It’s an intriguing question – and I’m not saying that because I asked it. It pushes me to take a hard, honest look at why in the world I would even want to hang on to certain thoughts … thoughts, I should add, that have a strong negative impact on my self-image or that can ruin a good mood faster than my Gene can make a quart of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby or Chunky Monkey disappear. By the way, that is really fast.
Of course, arriving at the last question the answer is a no-brainer because of the negative reaction to the thoughts so it may seem odd to even bother asking such a question. Actually, it helps the mind to recalibrate – as I ponder how ludicrous it is allowing myself to fall into such a mental quagmire and waste valuable energy and time on such negative thinking it makes it quite clear the only smart thing to do is to purge my mind of such thoughts.
There is something empowering about taking control of a pattern of thinking that is detrimental to one’s sense of self – replacing negative thoughts with positive ones – and it is generally only a matter of time before you realize you’re back on track … once again, there is a surge in your sense of self … and once again, you find you can stretch-out-oh-so-wonderfully because you’re feeling comfortable in your own skin.
Illness has had some influence on this facet of personal awareness and growth – it forced me to see myself with a naked honesty which, in turn, helped maintain the candor needed to effect real change. However, don’t wait until some life upheaval forces you to make friends with yourself – start now, today, this very minute …