By now you’ve probably read about Oprah and her confession about gaining weight again. Many commentators have already written about this. In fact, so many have done so, I wasn’t going to say anything myself, but this ties into self-esteem Friday well.
Here’s a woman who has all the trappings of self-esteem. As Kate Harding said, Oprah has more money than God. She is known nationally and internationally by her first name only. Her name is her brand. She’s very successful at what she does. She has mansions and chefs and personal trainers. She has people.
And yet, it doesn’t matter.
“I’m mad at myself,” Winfrey writes in an article provided early to The Associated Press by Harpo Productions.
“I’m embarrassed,” she writes. “I can’t believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I’m still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, `How did I let this happen again?'”
Harriet at Feed Me says: If Oprah, with all her ups and downs, her struggles to accept herself as she is, her repudiation of her body and her appetite, can’t learn to love herself, then who can?
The answer: You can. I can. Even Oprah can.
Self-esteem and learning to love yourself doesn’t come from the outside. One can have all the trappings of what society considers self-esteem — high impact career, power, ability to change people’s lives for good or ill, and yet not have self-esteem. While all the trappings must be nice to have, it doesn’t change who you are. At the end of the day, the money, the power, even the helping people, doesn’t make you love the person staring back at you in the mirror.
The foundation of developing self-esteem is to realize that you are okay just as you are. Right now. Even if you don’t change anything about yourself.
Yes, that’s a hard concept to accept. In today’s society, we are bombarded with the idea that we are not good enough. We aren’t thin enough, wealthy enough, sensitive enough, healthy enough. We work too much and aren’t able to tend the house and family like we should. We aren’t spiritual enough. We don’t take enough time to relax. And when we do relax, we do it in the wrong way. There are thousands (if not millions) of self-help books on the market just to help us improve whatever area of life we are deficit in.
There’s no money in telling people that they are good enough just where they are. And unless you are a mass murderer, you are good enough just as you are.
You don’t need to be thinner. You don’t need to be richer. You don’t need to play harder. This really isn’t a competition between yourself and any body else, or even yourself and yourself. Just because you accept yourself where you are right now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still strive towards something better. I’ll use myself as an example.
I’m teaching myself an ancient lace-making technique called reticelloand punta-in-aria. The work I’m doing is okay now. Considering that I’m pretty much teaching myself this technique, and that there are relatively very few people who do this in the world, much less in my area, I’m doing very good. However, I’ve seen the work people were doing in the 1500’s. What I am doing is kindergarten level by comparison. I am working on improving my technique and getting better. However, where I am right now is good.
This is partly how you develop self-esteem. Work on accepting yourself for who and what you are right now. Yes, acknowledge that you still have these goals, but accept that you are doing well right now. Contrary to popular belief, accepting yourself as you are does not necessarily mean you will lose your drive to improve. It just means that you don’t have to engage in self-hating tendencies while you are working towards your goals.
Because, no matter what you do, at the end of the day, it really is you who you see looking back at you in the mirror. It’s very lonely to look in the mirror and tell the person looking back at you how lacking you are. It much better to tell yourself how you are good enough. If you tell yourself that you are good enough often enough, eventually you will believe it.