Fact: 3 out of 4 women are unhappy with the way they look or feel. In addition to that statistic, 9 out of 10 women that answer our “I Love My” question without us guiding them, answer with a loving “family, kids, life”—the easy and safe response.
Remember last month when Renee Zellweger’s new Identity was revealed and scrutinized? I obviously do not support the criticism that vomited all over the Internet and social media sites. Disgusting. Those who bullied her verbally online are not any more confident than Zellweger. If one was truly confident and fully accepted and appreciated who they were, one would not need to publicly bully another. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Battle those thoughts out within yourself.
The grass is NEVER greener, it’s just different. It is clear that women tie the way they feel to their circumstances and image. That’s why diet and self-help books are best sellers, and are the number one categories for book retailers. Many of us women think we need to change ourselves in order to be happier. But, self-help programs aren’t the answer, at least not at first.
We must start with acceptance—owning our entire being.
Women can be happy with who they are without feeling the need to constantly change themselves. That begins with recognizing the traits that create our unique identities. Just as important as recognizing your traits and qualities is hanging onto it, owning and embracing them every single day. As the editor of Identity Magazine, I have mentored thousands of women to increase their confidence, and I encourage writing in a journal as the starting gate to happiness. I believe writing is not only therapeutic, but a key to self-discovery and becoming happier. If you don’t believe me, Google “Happiness Studies,” and you’ll find that studies exist on how when one journals consistently and acknowledges gratitude and appreciation, they become happier.
Here are 3 Simple Steps in Owning Your Identity:
1. Acknowledge and Own Your Qualities: In order to acknowledge your qualities, you need to accept yourself because that builds awareness. Most self-esteem experts suggest listing out your best traits and the things you love about yourself. However, this can be a stumbling block for women who struggle with self-esteem. Instead, I advise you to jot down the good, the bad, and the ugly on paper. Your qualities have been created from your personality, your quirks, and imperfections—mentally and physically. Knowing yourself inside and out is the first step to acceptance.
After you have created your list of the good, the bad, and the ugly, reflect on what you wrote. Circle all the good and focus on those qualities. Then take all the bad and the ugly and cross them out, which leads to release and letting go of those thoughts.
2. Release and Let Go: We all have had an experience that can affect the way we feel about ourselves, and deeply impact our self-esteem: harmful relationships, unhappy bosses, competitive friendships, a family at war, or even going up or down a size in jeans. Try to release and let go of these experiences, and remember that our experiences do not make up who we are. We can learn from our experiences, but they shouldn’t define who we are. Simply releasing opens us up to accepting our past situations and ourselves.
3. Use What Works: It doesn’t require a pen and paper or a traditional journal to chronicle your thoughts and feelings. Find what works for you. If you are a computer person, sit with your laptop; if you are an extrovert, speak it out loud and video yourself! For talkers, buddy up with a close friend and chat it out. For those that are angst-filled and need to actively release, do something liberating like using lipstick to mark up a mirror.
This may be challenging at first – it will be worth it in the long run. Acceptance is an inside job – seeking it from others and resources outside of yourself won’t get you very far, and anywhere you do go, will be temporary. I hope you find these first three steps valuable and consider taking action right now.