Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

I watched the beautiful Porta De Rossi on The Oprah Show yesterday. The hour flew by. What an engaging and candid interview. Portia DeRossi, wife of Ellen De Generes, and actress from Ally McBeal and Arrested Development talked openly about her secrets of the past. She was a closeted lesbian, afraid of being “Outed,” and had starved herself down to 82 pounds, and was suffering with bulimia simultaneously.

Portia’s big acting break came when she landed a role on the hit TV series Ally McBeal. Portia says it should have been the best day of her life, but at the time, she felt deeply insecure and undeserving of the job. After her first day on the set of Ally McBeal, Portia says she met her brother at a Mexican restaurant and ate “practically everything on the menu.” Afterward, she sat alone in her car and threw up her entire meal—plus the food she binged on during a post-dinner trip to 7-Eleven.

“I hated purging. It was punishment that I couldn’t stick to a diet,” she says. “I hated binging, [but] binging momentarily gave me relief, because I’d been starving, really. Psychologically, I just wanted to fill the void. But the purging, the purging made me feel more pathetic than just having failed yet another diet.”

Portia credits her brother for making her see the light. She recalls his shocking, straightforward words to her on a visit home to Australia years ago, “Portia, you’re going to die.” After collapsing on set at 25 years old, and the doctor telling her her organs were failing, she decided she didn’t want to live like a sick person and decided to get treatment.

Portia says she’s happy and healthy today and stays away from exercise. She stays fit by walking her dog and staying active. She seems to truly be at ease with herself, and is learning to love the woman staring back in the mirror.

Now this is a wonderful and happy ending to a horrific beginning. But not everyone is so lucky.

Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded by strikingly beautiful women; photoshopped into sexy, perfect, flawless skin and bodied women. Then we compare. Then once we compare, we feel further “less than,” what “appears” to be the norm. We beat ourselves down because we certainly don’t look like the women on the billboards, in the magazines and on TV. We’re told to be sexy for our partners, nurturing for our children, savvy in business, a loyal friend, in other words… perfect. But who’s perfect? Yup, you know the answer.

I can honestly say, that when I look in the mirror TODAY, I don’t mind what stares back. True, when I look: I see my father’s skin (lord why didn’t I get my mother’s creamy milky clear skin?), a big Jewish nose, large pores, teeth that shifted after years without braces, some cellulite, a butt that would probably now fail the pencil test (google the pencil test if you don’t know what it is), and glasses that would be insanely thick if I didn’t pay 500.00 to have thinned out. True, I see all these things and more… But this doesn’t DEFINE me. I feel I have more to offer than all my flaws, and that’s why I don’t beat myself up. I got out there, and started doing what I loved, living my passion, and that has kept me sane, and accepting of all my flaws.

When we’re continuously so hard on ourselves and strive for perfection, our creativity and growth is completely stifled. Nothing ever becomes good enough.

So why are we so hard on ourselves and what can we do to stop this vicious cycle?

  1. Be willing to forgive. When you make mistakes and can’t forgive yourself, you stay stuck. If you constantly harp on the should-haves, would-haves and could-haves, you can’t move forward. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake. Learn the lesson, and MOVE FORWARD.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. We all know what “Keeping up with the Jonses” and comparisons do to one’s spirit and happiness. It’s a sure killer. YOU are unique. There is only ONE of you ever to have been created in this world, and therefore the only person you should be comparing yourself to, is yourself. There will always be someone richer or poorer, skinnier or fatter, and greater or less than you. Focus on YOUR OWN journey.
  3. Perfection is an illusion. No one has it all. No one. We all struggle with something… for some it’s weight, for some it’s financial, for some it’s mental illness, for some it’s a sick parent, for some it’s an unhappy marriage, for some it’s an addiction, for some it’s a troubled teen. Nothing and no situation is perfect. Learn to love the imperfections, embrace then, accept them, and then move towards self improvement. There’s no such thing as perfect.
  4. Intead of perfection, try for excellence. Isn’t it great to enjoy the ride to excellence? Think of running a marathon… small improvements cutting down your time each day is what keeps you motivated and moving. Think of a painting… every day a new color is added to the easel, bringing you one step closer to the finished product and therefore a sense of accomplishment. Think of applying for your dream job… there may be ONE ideal job in your mind, but that doesn’t mean your work won’t be fulfilling and give you a tremendous sense of happiness if you don’t attain that ONE dream job. Strive for great, not PERFECT.
  5. Celebrate the small victories. Are you on a mission to lose 20 lbs? Why do you have to break open the bubbly only when you get to your 20 lb goal? Why not every 5 pounds, celebrate the mini milestones? Life’s a journey, not a destination, as the cliche goes! When I was writing my book, I celebrated every 3 chapters. No joke. A glass of wine, a new book, cuz I was one step closer to my final goal. It made me feel encouraged and positive. And I rewarded myself.
(Ezine)

So stop being so hard on yourself! Cut yourself some slack! Start today… 🙂

xoxEDxox

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And share with our readers, why do you think women strive for perfection and are so hard on themselves? What else do you think we can do to create a more accepting society? Superwoman after all, is just a fictional character! Share your thoughts…

25 Comments
  1. I suffered with self esteem issues and anorexia. I have been at a normal weight for 6 years now but it is a daily battle with my mind and myself. You never really fully get over it. Living healthy is the route to go. I admire Portia for sharing her story. It is true that it’s a living hell. I would like to add one more tip: let go of toxic people in your life.

  2. While I agree that the media has caused women to sometimes feel less than, issues like anorexia and bulimia go way past the media. The people who suffer from this disorder are sick and need help and the media is only a small part of it. Great post and great suggestions.

  3. I saw that interview on Oprah and I was so touched by what Portia had to say, the demons she overcame and where she is at in her life now. I think the media really affects women (and men) in a negative way and we could all use a little more encouragement and positivity in our lives. If you like this article, you could also check out a site I oversee which is http://www.shetaxi.com. It’s a place for women to share, laugh and enjoy the real aspects of life, without gossip and without the pressure and unrealistic ideals that the media always pushes on us. Thanks for this post. Loved every word. It really resonates with me.

  4. I always admire people who learn from their mistakes and are not afraid to share them to millions of people. It’s not a surprise that celebrities like Portia are oftentimes pressured to look perfect in front of everyone, I agree that it’s all media’s fault. We kept comparing ourselves to them, when in fact we forget that these models have flaws themselves.
    Teens in particular, are often victims of eating disorders because of what they see on T.V. …some are not as lucky as Portia and denied the help they should be given. These teens need therapy and the support of their loved ones to be able to cope with eating disorders, just like Portia.

  5. If you’re going through the yo-yo dieting is 80 percent cycle again and again, it really seems true. Other people self-medicate with dieting is 80 percent. Every week or every 10 days, I had to make it work. As a result, more and more women begin to only focus on the abdominal exercises. So always have a plan A and a plan B in terms of making small adjustments to your diet. Whole foods contain more nutrition and fiber and require more energy for the body means starvation.

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