Yesterday was my 12-year wedding anniversary. 12 years! My husband and I are at the point now where we have to actually stop and ask ourselves…”Just how many years has it been?” Sometimes it feels like it was just a few years ago that we exchanged vows, and other times, well, it feels like waaayyyy longer. Any other members of long-term partnerships know what I’m talking about?! All jokes aside, my husband and I are a great match, with love and respect at the core of our relationship.
Looking for love in all the wrong places..
There were many years growing up however, that I never thought I would find anyone who would love me. Being born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate certainly made the usual “standards of beauty” that society values feel way out of reach. It was a long struggle to get to the point of thinking of myself as “pretty” or “beautiful”, but I do now.
However, it was not anyone outside of myself that got me there. Let me tell you there were times in my late teens and early 20s when I was actively seeking validation and recognition of my physical beauty from everyone else except me. Looking back, I am incredibly lucky that there were no serious ramifications from my desperate search because I was taking risks with myself that I never should have.
We can get our self-image so twisted up in other people that it can become almost impossible to unravel the tangles. It usually takes something big happening to shake us awake and recognize that our behavior is destructive and doing just the opposite of what we want it too.
Who holds the keys?
Low self esteem and low self-worth can be so dangerous because it can lead us down such a reckless path. With even just the hint of desire or validation of my beauty from someone, I was ready to hand over the keys to my confidence, all in the hopes of having just one person love me.
Shaken up but not broken down..
My jarring moment came in 2004 with the illness and eventual death of my father. That event late in 2004 shook me and made me start to take a hard look at my actions and knowing deep down that I needed to change my behavior. I decided I was no longer going to let anyone else dictate how I would feel about myself. I stopped looking at my physical appearance as the only indicator of my value as a person, and stopped letting other people’s desire to use my body be the only means of measuring my worth.
I’m not saying that this change happened over night. Having a facial birth defect made most emotional challenges harder to work through, but it did happen. I had to make a conscious effort to see all of my other attributes just as, if not more so, important than my physical ones.
Want to know one tool I used? I made a list in a journal of all the things that I loved to do and things I had accomplished so far in my life. When you feel low or down, try this exercise. Make a list of all the activities you enjoy and things you have accomplished in your life so far. Trust me, once you get over the initial resistance of writing something nice about yourself, it will start to flow. List anything and everything you enjoy, and what you are proud of yourself for doing. Still stuck? Ask a trusted family member or friend to help you. Let them know that you are making yourself a “resilience list” to give you a boost when you need it.
Self-love begins within..
See your value through your own eyes, and do not let the opinions and desires of others (or society for that matter) dictate how you determine your worth. You hold the power to lift yourself up when you feel down. Be your own best friend. Remember, you are a complete and wonderful beautiful human being just as you are.
All my best.
Want to receive the Dragonfly Paradigm monthly newsletter? Click the button below to subscribe so you can receive self confidence and resilience building tools and strategies right to your inbox.
Are you a parent of a cleft affected child and are looking for some advice on how to build their emotional resilience? Then click the button below to receive my free guide – 10 Keys To Building Emotional Resilience In Your Cleft Affected Child.