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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

I'm my own worst critic.

I absolutely hate the phrase, “I’m my own worst critic.” Yes, I’m aware “hate” is a very strong word, but I seriously cannot stand that that’s a thing. Why are we so critical of ourselves that we actually have a turn of phrase dedicated to it. Therapists build large practices on that point alone. I would venture a guess that food and drug companies are benefiting from it as well.

I used to be that critic who was terribly lacking in confidence and had an overabundance of self-doubt. It’s probably what fueled my anxiety for so many years. I could probably hypothesize the root cause of why my confidence was so low, but honestly, I think that would just be playing the blame game. I believe the importance is that I recognize it now and decide what to do about it.

Ya know what’s funny. Most people would never know that I lacked confidence for so long. Some people thought I was actually brave. I had no problem standing up in front of thousands of people and signing the national anthem at a sports event. Maybe that was brave. But if I was brave enough to do that, why did I feel like my opinion wasn’t worth speaking up in a staff meeting with my peers?

I used to call my clothes and make-up my armor. I would put them on each morning while getting ready for work and then go tackle the day. I wanted to give the impression that I knew what I was doing. If I looked the part then maybe I would act the part. If I looked confident, maybe I would be confident. Inside I was second guessing (and maybe third and fourth guessing) myself the whole way.

I would like to say that this didn’t have anything to do with my appearance, but it totally did. I was overweight and always struggling with my appearance. Yo-yo dieting, drinking too much, and smoking like a chimney didn’t help either. People would ask, “How are you?” and I would sarcastically return “Well, how do I look?” Why the heck did that matter so much? It’s like I needed that little bit of attention to my outward appearance to define how I was feeling on the inside.

So fast-forward to now. I’ve stopped drinking so much. I kicked smoking to the curb a few years ago (for the last time… finally). I’ve dropped 90 lbs and my health is in much much better shape. I’ve dove into personal development and therapy to heal the past hurts and take responsibility for my choices instead of letting my emotions drive every danged decision. I’m in a good place. So, why the heck would I still have a confidence and self-doubt issue to deal with?

Negative self-talk is quite possibly one of the hardest habits to break. Why is that? Well, I believe that’s because we first have to realize that it’s ourselves speaking it. That means I must recognize that my ego is telling me that I suck. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Because the ego, your ego, my ego, is hell bent on being right. And if you are telling yourself that your opinion doesn’t matter or is stupid then you must be right? Right? WRONG! It’s just the message you’re giving yourself. Not your true reality.

Now here is where it gets a little funky for me. And I’m still working through this. Let’s say that I’ve put the negative self-talk aside. Then what remains? Confidence and affirmations right? I’m worthy. I’m smart. I’m healthy. I’m pretty. And darn it, people like me.

As a heavy and unhealthy person I tried affirmations. And it helped. But when I finally started to believe it, the changes that happened were insane. I started changing my habits. I wasn’t settling for the self-damaging behaviors I had practiced before which were only attempts to cope with stress and disappointment. And guess what. I actually did start liking the way that I looked. And that gave me confidence. I began living out loud with my friends, family… and social media.

There’s a risk to living out loud. You are literally opening yourself up to criticism from people you know and from strangers. Strangers, y’all! And then the cycle starts again. We start to believe what people who have no clue about your inside say because they are judging you on the outside. And the questions start flooding in.

Who do I think I am?

Do they think that I’m just showing off?

I lost 90 lbs. So, what does that make me? Just another person to make fat people feel bad about themselves?

Have I lost my focus on the importance of loving your body because now I actually have a body that I love?

Am I feeding into those things that used to make me feel less than?

Am I being real? Or am I being some fake version of me?

I’m going to be perfectly honest. I like how I look now. I like how I look with make-up, and I like how I look without it. I like how I look in my workout clothes and when I’m dressed up for a night with the girls. More than how I look, I like how I act. I think I’m funny (even thought I probably curse too much). I like my style. I am proud of my success at work and as a health coach. It’s wild. I actually finally like myself.

Do you know how long I thought that making a statement like “l like myself” was conceited. Like I thought I was better than someone else? Like it was a bad thing to like yourself because that meant that you thought you were better than everyone else around you. For real. Insanity. Because the goal is to actually like yourself. It’s insane that we could spend so much time, money and effort trying to like ourselves only to find out then when we do, we shouldn’t like ourselves too much.

Welcome to my brain y’all. It’s a messy place.

Even more than just liking myself, I think enough of myself that I would have the audacity to think that if I put myself out there in the world for people to judge that someone might find me inspirational. Now THAT is confidence. I remember the first time I went live on Facebook to just be accountable and to talk about something on my heart. That was so scary! What would people think? Right? But I did it because I really wanted to share. I think that right before confidence comes a whole lot of scaredy cat. Well at least that seems to be the case for me. Nerves, a little nausea, and then boom… I’ve got this.

Changing what we do really comes from changing who we are. In the past I’ve felt that if I were more confident I would do more, get more done, have more energy and be free from anxiety. Well… I wasn’t wrong. But instead of wanting to gain confidence, I had to first believe that I was worthy of the success that I wanted. I had to believe that with my whole self. That it was ok for me to want to be successful. That it was ok for me to want to like how I looked. That it was ok for me to be a priority. And once I made the decision that I was a priority all it took was just taking steps into my new mindset and live there every day. My mantra for a long time became “I deserve this.” Later, I added “I earned this.” It wasn’t a message of self-entitlement. It was a message that I deserve to be as much of a priority to me as everyone else is. And when I started to truly believe that I was worthy of confidence I could then start working through my anxiety and begin to do the things that I was so scared to do before.

Take this blog for instance. Who the heck do I think that I am that I can just post my thoughts and feelings out into the virtual world and think that anyone would find this valuable? Right? That took guts. And I did it. I was scared that people would think it was dumb. I was honestly scared that no one would look at it at all. But for me it was something I wanted to do. I had to do. And even though it took a bit for me to build up the confidence to get started, I finally did it.

Here is where I rest. I rest in the fact that I’ve done the work and I’m happy that I got healthy. I also rest in the fact that I’m successful at work and I am doing a great job raising my beautiful son. I like where I am, but I’m not resting here. I’m continuing to work. Why? Because it’s important to me. It’s important that I keep working on personal development and putting in the time in the gym. I like my body and I’ll continue to treat it well. I even like the wrinkly parts and stretch marks because they tell my story that is unique. They tell a story of what I’ve earned. I like how I look in selfies… that took a long time to admit. So, I take them. Because it shows that I’m confident enough now to share that part of me. I’m confident. Does that mean that I don’t ever question myself? No. But does it mean that I’ve made a crap ton of progress? Yeah. I think so.

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