By Guest Blogger Bianca Osbourne
Low self-esteem seems to plague the female existence. We are faced with the insurmountable task of being beautiful, successful, sexy and powerful, all while making it look easy. Low self-esteem has been my Achilles heel since I was very young. Growing up, I was chunky with spotted skin, so I worked diligently toward being the class clown. Having my classmates laugh WITH me before they could laugh AT me was an art form I perfected.
Fortunately, time was good to me and I blossomed as I grew up. The baby fat melted away and my skin cleared. All of a sudden, I saw a beautiful woman staring back at me in the mirror. Good looking men approached me from all angles, wanting to be my mate. I was shocked, but reveled in the attention that I had craved as a teenager. Then I met the man whom I thought I would be with forever; he was perfect, he loved me, and I loved him for that. But my old feelings of inadequacy crept in as the relationship grew, and those feelings slowly sabotaged this wonderful relationship, the relationship I wanted so badly; but believed I didn’t deserve.
From the beginning, I was baffled as to why this gorgeous person wanted to be with me. I looked up to him tremendously, and I wanted him to cure me of my low self-worth. Eventually he pushed back against the pressure of my need for him to save me; as a result I became needy. It’s an incredible burden for a man, as he struggles to figure out his own life, to be tasked with rescuing someone from their own twisted thinking. Eventually the relationship crumbled because I wasn’t the person he had fallen in love with. I had become a woman who was scared of losing the only man she thought she could get. He could no longer handle the pressure of keeping me happy.
I hated him for months. I blamed him, called him names, stalked him, and behaved like a woman scorned. I am certainly not the first woman to behave like this, and I certainly won’t be the last. After months of mourning and hatred, I had my “a-ha” moment; I was watching a television program about weddings, and the bride expected so much of the groom. I could see his frustration and thought to myself, “Girlfriend, it’s not his job to do everything to make YOU happy.” And then it hit me like a ton of bricks — I was the problem, not him. I cried for days, realizing that not only had I self-sabotaged my relationship, but that my self-esteem was so low that I had looked desperately to others to provide me with confidence. I felt sad and pathetic.
Sitting there and feeling pathetic, I decided that I wanted to be better. First, I took ownership of my actions. I made a conscious decision to stay single until I knew that I, and I alone, could give birth to my own happiness. The moment when I was okay with being alone would be the moment when I would start dating again. I took up yoga and read voraciously about relationships — relationships with men and relationships with self. My journey to self-love didn’t happen overnight, but after two years of searching for the happy Bianca, I came to many conclusions.
Never underestimate the power of positive thinking
For years I had programmed myself to think that I was somehow inferior. I felt inferior to my mates and my friends; this negative self-talk only contributed to my amazingly low self-worth. Then I discovered affirmations, the simple act of filling my mind with positive thoughts. It sounded simple enough, but reversing years of negative self-talk takes a whole lot of affirming. I persevered because I knew this was the first step toward changing my future. Now every morning, before I do anything, I recite 3 sentences, ten times. Whenever I feel old habits creeping in again, I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and recite this affirmation as many times as it takes for the negative feelings to subside. It works. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
My happiness is my business
I tasked other people and things to make me happy — men, clothing, money — you name it; but that is a passive and often rocky road to self-love. I made my happiness my own business. Through this, I discovered that I love to write, that walking clears my head, and that I prefer to have a decent amount of alone time. I had always tried to be happy doing what brought other people happiness, yet I was so unhappy. Once I took inventory of my true desires, I was able to embark on my own path to self-love happiness.
I had become so accustomed to berating myself and all my efforts that, without even realizing it, I had become my own worst influence. Reversing the negative self-talk was hard. The affirmations certainly helped, but it took very hard work to change myself. Since my teenage years I had discounted all of my positive qualities and focused solely on the negative. Now I make a point of respecting myself every day through exercise and a focus on healthy living. This has helped me see the value of the positive things I do throughout the day. Taking care of my body and mind is the ultimate showcase of my self-respect. I’ve realized that when I am being myself and showing myself love, I’m kind, gentle, and feel at ease showing my biting sense of humor. I now can finally say, that I like who I am.
Exercise is my savior. Pushing my body to new heights, and seeing the result that exercise has had on my body and mind, has changed my attitude for the better. I used to berate my body for being overweight, and in my adulthood those thoughts still lingered. But completing a 30-day yoga challenge forced me to realize how powerful my body is, and to give it the respect it deserves.
Hot yoga single-handedly improved my self-image; and having struggled with bad skin, I have found that yoga is truly the best acne skincare treatment. I haven’t had a breakout since I began my practice. This body withstood 30 straight days of Bikram yoga and one day it will bear my children; my body is mine and it is completely amazing.
It took losing something I thought I needed to survive, to realize the cold heard truth… sometimes, we gotta make some serious changes to the way we treat ourselves in order to get happy and healthy. Love is amazing, and being loved is amazing, but I have discovered that before we can love anyone else, we need to love and take care of ourselves. It isn’t selfish, it’s the secret to happiness.
What do you think? Tell us ladies, can you identify with Bianca? Do you struggle with self esteem issues? Has self esteem issues effected you in relationships? What advice would you give to a woman struggling with self worth? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Bianca Osbourne is a professionally trained natural foods chef and freelance health writer. She writes voraciously about using nutrition and believes in using food for skincare and wellness. Visit her blog at http://www.VitalityGuideForWomen.com/blog-2/