“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
John Keating, Dead Poets Society
Few statements have been made that are truer than this for me. Words and ideas have constructed and reconstructed the paradigms on which I base my entire life. Words like “diet” and “thin” and ideas like “eating disorders” and “perfection” and “never good enough” were so powerful to me that they quite literally changed my world. Over the span of the 10 years I had a destructive relationship with food, I wasn’t the only one affected. My friends’ and family’s lives had changed, too. We were all in this crappy world together, drowning in self-loathing and despair. Relationships were broken. Tears were shed. Fights were had. All because I was convinced that with this body in this world, I would never be good enough to be loved.
But the good news is that wasn’t the end of the story. As backwards and scary as these ideas made the world for me, I made a conscious decision that I didn’t want it to stay that way. I was determined to create a whole new existence for myself — one that was governed by love instead of hate and joy instead of sorrow and hope instead of failure. Without much direction or know-how, I turned to the only tool I could fathom utilizing in a battle against self-hate — the weapon that changed my world in the first place: words.
At first, knowing full well that the only ideas in my head were dangerous and unhealthy, I sought out other people’s words — the bible, books on inner beauty, self-love blogs. Then, I took those words and actually wrote them down in my journal with my own hand as if they were pouring out of my own consciousness. I won’t lie to you — at first, it felt really awkward. It felt wrong. It felt stupid, pointless, and borderline pathetic. But I persisted, knowing that the alternative wasn’t an option anymore.
After several (I’m talking several, people) months of this, I started following a different pattern. Instead of reading these encouraging words about my body and feeling uncomfortable and doubtful, I started to believe them. I even found myself thinking them while I was looking in the mirror without even trying. Instead of looking at my body as “fat” and “unlovable” and “disgusting,” I found myself referring to it as “lovely” and “curvy” and “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
So. All that to say…
TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: SEEK OUT, SAY, THINK, AND WRITE DOWN ENCOURAGING WORDS.
If you’re feeling particularly down and don’t feel like exerting effort to look, let me give you some:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
– Psalm 139:13-15, 17-18
And for you non-believers out there:
You are bloody fantastic. Your existence makes life worthwhile.
But, as wonderful as other people’s words are, your words matter most in the act of changing your world for the better. Therefore…
An FBDC homework assignment of sorts.
You know how when you were in 7th grade and you spent hours trying to finish your freaking algebra homework and you thought to yourself, “WHEN AM I EVER GOING TO USE THIS WORTHLESS GARBAGE??” (No? Was that just me?) Well, rest assured, this homework assignment is actually beneficial to your life. Also, you get an “A” no matter what. Even if you turn it in late. (I hope my 7th grade algebra teacher reads this and takes a bloody hint.)
- I’d like you to find a pen (or pencil or crayon or whatever) and a sheet of paper. Not an email or a blog. An actual, physical, made-from-a-tree-and-will-biodegrade sheet of paper.
- Write a love letter to yourself. Write, “Dear [insert your name here],” at the top and write down as many wonderful things about yourself as you want. Your letter can be two lines long, or two hundred pages long. Whatever good things you can think about yourself, write them. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar. Just write.
- Find an envelope and a stamp.
- Put that love letter in said envelope, seal it, and put said stamp on it. Beyonce would say, “IF YOU MAIL IT THEN YOU NEEDA PUTTA STAMP ON IT.”
- Address said envelope to yourself.
- Next time you’re out and about, drop it in a public mailbox.
- When it arrives in your mailbox, open it up and read it.
- Put that letter in a safe place. That way, whenever you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself and you feel your world spinning quickly back into darkness, you can re-read that letter, come back to the light, and remember that you are lovely.
After you’ve written your letters, here’s your extra credit assignment: email me excerpts from your letter so that I can read them. I’d love nothing more than to read your own words about how fabulous you are. I could sit here all day and talk about how wonderful I think each of you are, but what does it matter if you don’t believe it yourself?
Okay. I’m going to hit post. And then, I’m going to watch my inbox become flooded with your self-love.
You ready for your world to change?