Thursday, 23 November 2017

P Pamela's Pondering

What You See (and say) is What You Get!

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I don’t know when the self-esteem issues kicked in. Sometimes I wonder if we’re born with them. Though I really doubt that’s true, I do believe words spoken over a newborn spirit or a young child can impact that person’s life forever. I don’t remember any specific incidents where I was made to feel inadequate, but instead of feeling like the proverbial princess or overprotected only little girl in a house of three boys, I somehow developed the opposite persona–that of being ‘not quite good enough.’

Add to this the normal childhood woes of not measuring up to my peers (too short, too fat, not as pretty or smart, etc.) and the words ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-value’ had no meaning in my life.

Then along came the teenage years when I grew from an insecure girl to a young woman with the dream of marriage and children. Factor into that dream low-to-no self-confidence much less self-worth, and the combination does not bode well for attracting a husband.

But attract one I did. Though I wouldn’t call him my Prince Charming.

Nine years of abuse and two babies later I found myself divorced and any trace of self-esteem in the dung heap.

At that time I developed a motto: What you see is what you get. You like it? Good! You don’t, hit the road, it’s your loss!

I must say this was out of self-preservation, not self-love. But it was a start.

Two years later friendship turned to love with the man who would become my next husband, this man and marriage almost the complete opposite from my first. Loving, kind, and lavish with praise and compliments, I felt beautiful in his eyes and my self-confidence grew. With his support and encouragement, I excelled at work, wrote romance novels, started a writers group in my area, did speaking engagements and book signings and virtually put myself out there in ways I would never have even dreamed of before.

Alas, regardless of what one might think, self-confidence and self-esteem do not equal self-value, self-worth or self-love.

I was still very self-conscious about many things, especially my looks. Constantly on a diet or exercise routine, I wore clothes to camouflage my round hips and curvaceous thighs, and tried numerous hair styles and beauty products to add volume and shine to my less than perfect hair. Actions meant to shore up my confidence did indeed help, but that nagging sense of ‘not quite good enough’ lingered deep in my heart, soul and subconscious. And although I felt better, I hadn’t reached the part of truly loving, appreciating and valuing myself.

Then one summer evening my support system was gone. Removed from my life forever in the span of a heartbeat and I was thrust into the world as a single woman. Widowed and alone when, despite everything I’d accomplished, all I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother.

They say out of our biggest tragedies come some of our greatest blessings but the prospect of getting out there and dating terrified me and the moment I stepped out into the single scene all of the old insecurities returned.

My legs are too short, hips too big and breasts too small. My hair’s too thin and flat and now turning gray. I can’t compete with the young, perky, firm, beautiful women out there!

The bible teaches us that as a man thinks therefore he is (Prov. 23:7), so I dug out my old motto and started using it..... What you see is what you get. Like it? Good! Don’t? Hit the road, it’s your loss!

Only this time I took things a step further.

As a Christian I’d studied and practiced speaking God’s word over my life and knew the power of writing things down, so I started focusing on and appreciating what I liked about myself and what I was good at. I am smart. I am talented. I am gifted. I am blessed.

Then I began writing and saying affirmations to what I wanted to believe about myself. I am thin, healthy, energetic, and attractive. I look good. I feel good.

As time moved on I got more bold....I am beautiful. I am desirable. I am sexy. I am healed, whole, and complete. I am worthy. I am valuable.

Comments from friends and acquaintances about how good I looked every time they saw me helped me to believe the inner growth I’d been cultivating was actually working and worth the effort to continue.

Then one day I woke up and I felt these things. I felt healthy, energetic and attractive.

I had an image in my mind of a particular red dress that clung in all the right places (something I never would have even considered before!). So I went shopping. I found that dress, tried it on and the mirror reflected back to me everything I’d been affirming for years...a beautiful, sexy, desirable woman.

But....

Some of those same old thought patterns crept up and I put the dress back.

The next day my friend and I returned to the store and I tried it on for her opinion and again was astounded at how I not only felt but looked in that dress.

This time I bought it.

That was nearly three years ago. I still practice positive thinking, affirmations and self talk and have since, purchased several clingy dresses and outfits and I am constantly amazed at how differently I look at and feel about myself. I’ve also come to understand that how the world sees me is a reflection of how I see and feel about myself.

When those old taunts try to rise up and steal my joy, I immediately shake my head and remind myself that as I think, therefore I am.

Then I go into a litany of affirmations knowing that as I project feelings of love, appreciation, value and self-approval, others will reflect that back to me. After all, what you see (and say) is what you get!

Something to think about.

Inspirational with an Edge!

Columnist: Pam Thibodeaux

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Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana, former Owner/CEO of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine, and current Marketing Director for TWJ Magazine. 

Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” 

Find out more about Pam by visiting her website and connecting with her on Facebook & Twitter @psthib!

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