If you have read the remainder of this blog, you will start to understand that I have struggled over time with anxiety and the often-related habit of fear-based thoughts. Many of my posts may be reflections of what I’ve tried so far to rewire my brain and unlearn the bad habits that I had carried.
One of my issues has always been self-confidence.
I could talk for days about all of the aspets of my childhood that were guided by self-confidence, from how I acted, how I dressed and even my eventual use of drugs and alcohol just to “fit in”. It wasn’t always classy.
One big constant through 40 years of life has been that I consistently judged myself. I had never fully accepted myself exactly as I was. I could always come up with a handful of reasons why I wasn’t good or enough for others. This was something I vowed to heal when I realized I even felt that way.
The first step, of course, is recognizing the feeling and commiting to finding a better and more grateful way to look at one’s self in the mirror. To do this, I did mirror work for a long time and still do now. Mirror work is mostly spoken about in books by Louise Hay, a great author who told the world about the power of thoughts and how they can change your reality. My reality was that I wanted to love myself more, so I started to tell my own face in the mirror: I love you! It’s really weird at first, and it will feel “fake” or forced, but once I did this a few times, it became almost natural. I wanted to be in front of the mirror, where I could look into my own eyes, and finally see myself for who I was – a perfectly imperfect super awesome me! This practice changed everything for me, and I began to truly love ME for exactly who I was, not who I had tried to be (to fit in) for so very long.
Like anything else, a new practice or habit takes “work”; but not the work of a job or something you are not choosing to do per say, but simply the work to achieve a goal, the effort of performing a task that requires determination. Much like yoga and meditation, it is a practice. What I’ve come to realize is that the comfort you will find from creating this habit will feel better than any discomfort felt along the way. It’s like hiking a big mountain – instead of focusing on your legs hurting, look around and see the beauty of the journey and rejoice once you see the view from the top. I applied this to many aspects of my life, but specific to the one of self-love and acceptance, I just had to remind myself to appreciate myself when I walked by a mirror. The more I focused on choosing thoughts of joy, especially about how I saw myself, the happier I felt in all aspects of my life, and I no longer felt the need to be anyone else than who I was meant to be.
This journey would be different for everyone, but for me, it became my new habit. As an addict of alcohol, almost 5 years sober, the power of “habits” is strong with me. I had to convince myself that focusing on habits that were good for me was better than the temporary joys of the habits that were not. But now that I’m practicing a habit of self-love, I feel more joy than ever before and it all started with looking at myself in the mirror, saying:
I love you.
Now to bring this habit of acceptance into other aspects of my life. It’s like learning a magic trick and seeing how many more tricks you can do!!!
As you know, I’m an artist.
I’m a self-taught artist with no official training, and it took me a long time to accept my art as it is, and to grow it as its meant to grow for ME. In my art like in my day life, the best I can do is be the best version of me with the knowledge and the tools that I have in that moment, and try to be more awesome at it tomorrow than today. Easy, right? Well, it gets easier… 😉
As I learned to let go of who I thought I had to be and began to accept and love myself as I am, this acceptance carried forward into my art. I stopped comparing myself to others as much, while learning to embrace my own personal art style and developing my own voice on a canvas. We spend so much time focusing on what others have, forgetting that they have is their own, but better yet, what WE have is OUR own and how magical is that. I started to feel more inspired and the paint flowed better on the canvas.
Now every day, I focus to be exactly who I am inside.
I am not better nor worse than anyone, as a human or as an artist. I art for myself and then share with the world, hoping the color and lines will bring you your own joy and inspiration. I live for myself and hope that I can bring love, joy, and inspiration to those around me. My life is much like my art and with both, I am learning to let go… let go of expectations, let go of judgment of self and others, let go of caring what anyone thinks of me (as other people’s opinion is none of my business), and let go of my ridiculous collection of fears. The clutter has got to go. Marie Kondo talks about letting go of clutter if an item doesn’t bring you joy – the same goes with thoughts. My negative thoughts about myself and my art didn’t bring me joy, so I’ve been learning to let go of them and choosing thoughts that make me happy.
This blog is part of the healing and experience of growth for me.
Telling you about it helps me reaffirm how I have chosen to live for me!
My art has become a big part of it too.
A few nights ago, I had the urge to paint. For the first time, I wanted to paint ME. This is very unusual, as I am 40 years old and paint on an easel dated 1988, so I’ve done this a while. Yet, I’ve never painted me. I have never done a self-portrait. I have given myself excuses such as “I can’t paint people” or “why would I do that” but how can I achieve this with negative thoughts. That night, I had the urge to change the narrative. Release the fear and doubt and paint what flowed out of me as an expression of who I felt I am.
I didn’t think about it, I didn’t plan it, I just DID it. I told any fears that showed up to take a back seat and watch me. I felt connected and calm, and I was really having a blast, choosing to paint without fear, just happiness.
I did. And it felt GOOD!
I went to bed feeling fulfilled and accomplished and slept like a dream, which says a lot as I have a history with insomnia, another habit I am trying to recreate. I woke up the next morning rested and clear and focused. That morning, I shared a call with one of my coaches, Jill, and we talked about taking ownership of my body and claiming it and its energy, releasing energies that aren’t mine, and focusing on owning my own self. She didn’t know about the painting at the time, but for me, it all connected. The universe had brought me inspiration, followed by the same guidance from my coach. I felt aligned. I felt much like when you do a puzzle and finally put all the outside pieces together, so you can start working on the good stuff, the inside pieces. (This pun on “looking inwards” was unintented!).
This was a moment of clarity for me. Claim your energy, claim your body, and rejoice in exactly WHO you are. Protect your energies and your body as there’s only one of you and you are the most awesome you that you can be.
Here I am.
Connected to me.
Connected to my higher power.
Connected to my own energy.
I claim me!