I have to share with you BEFORE I get to the C.O.T.W. (challenge of the week) my dream I had last night.  In my dream I was some sort of very “important” business executive, which is NOT some hidden, unfulfilled desire of mine….anyway, I was at a photo shoot having pictures taken with two other people.  Everything was going along splendidly UNTIL someone amongst the entourage, who had been assigned to me with the sole purpose of making me look flawless stopped the shoot….in a very abrupt and NON-SUBTLE manner…. and ANNOUNCED LOUDLY , in the form of a question….IS THAT A HAIR GROWING OUT OF HER CHEEK??!!   After an excruciating several minutes of people scrutinizing over my face with bright lights, magnifying glasses and tweezers….a 5 inch hair was removed from my face.  It was at this DREADFUL MOMENT that I awoke….even in my dream I couldn’t stick around and bare the humiliation…HA!

Comical right?  Well, I guess maybe it would be….IF IT WASN’T TRUE…lol.  However, I experienced this very HORROR…minus the executive title and the photo shoot, of course  Somewhere between 35 and 40, I started to grow these very long, thin, blond hairs on my face.  I have FOUND two to be precise.  The first one I endured for MONTHS.  It was awful…I could ACTUALLY feel it when I drove in my car with the windows down FLAPPING in the breeze.  I constantly solicited people to inspect my face for the hair I knew had taken up residence, but all would claim they COULDN’T SEE ANY HAIR!!  So here is my pesky facial hair finding tip….SUNLIGHT and DIFFERENT ANGLES….Lo and behold….Dan found and removed said hair.  WHAT THE HECK!!??  Now I am supposed to shave my legs, pits, bikini line, wax my lip and eyes AND pluck my face!  SHEESH!

Onto the Challenge….taped messages.  We ALL have taped messages, I am going to go out on a limb and declare it universal.  I am unsure if it is more of an issue for females because as a gender we tend to be more judgemental of ourselves OR because we are more vocal about sharing our perceived self-deficiencies.  Nevertheless, being that I have a son, nephews and a husband, I know, certainly, that males play negative taped messages, as well.

This post deserves thoughtfulness and I am afraid I will not give it the attention it deserves, as I HAVE TO CLEAN MY HOUSE today.…when you cannot muster a shred of memory for the last time you cleaned your home….well…I would say it is time the cleaning make the “numero uno” priority slot….no?  My point is I hope that I can do this topic the justice it deserves being I have a time-constraint.

Okay…so where was I?  Taped messages…and I am speaking of the negative ones, as they seem to always be the loudest, most prominent and most difficult to ignore messages residing in our thoughts.  This weekend I tried to hone in on WHEN these messages imprison us…I noticed that my six-year-old does NOT seem to be inflicted with negative messages, however she does have moments of self-pity and embarrassment.  I noticed at the age of 9 and 10 negative tapes were beginning to form and by age 12 they seemed to become repetitive.  These messages are subtle at first, an off-handed comment of “I am so fat” by a 12-year-old, who doesn’t have an ounce of body fat, or “I’m not good at soccer” by an eleven-year-old boy.  We hear people of all ages say these things everyday.  We all have them to the degree of normalcy that disables us from even hearing them…really hearing them.

A common thread, primarily for women and girls is the line…the very fine line….between being “conceited” and being “self-confident.”  Women and girls are 9 times out of ten more likely to shrug off a compliment and cling to a negative comment.  I know that I can get all dressed up for a night out, and if I allow myself for the briefest moment a…. “hey you are rocking it tonight”.…I quickly follow it by….“well, except your hair…what the heck is up with your hair tonight?”

These messages are so deeply ingrained within ourselves that they barely register in our consciousness.  I remember hearing the “I’m fat” comment come out of my daughter’s mouth and it was at that moment that I really plugged into my own thoughts and messages that I repetitively said to myself.  I became hung-up, for a bit, on where and why my daughter…. my fun-loving,compassionate, zestful, beautiful child had obtained negative self-messages.  “Was I not doing a good job, as her mom, instilling self-confidence within her?”

Here is the reality….the negative talk comes from many different places and the truth is….IT DOES NOT MATTER WHERE IT COMES FROM.  For some it comes from the media, for others their parents, others their peers or maybe a traumatic event in one’s life renders them vulnerable to not feeling“good enough.”  The important point is simply….it is not what HAPPENS to you in your life that makes you who you are, it is what you SAY to yourself ABOUT what happens in your life that forms your self-image.

Some of us suffer and struggle with our negative messages playing in WHISPERS  and some of us struggle with them SHOUTING.  Both are equally damaging.  Those of us whose messages whisper, often times going undetected, risk making decisions and living a life in alignment with our “not good enough” self-image with no realization of what we are doing.  For those of us whose messages are SHOUTING at us, it may be more visible on the outside that there is a problem….depression, obesity, self-sabotaging.  If we tell ourselves that we are never good enough over and over, we will align ourselves with never being good enough AND we will “set” ourselves up to prove that we are not good enough….. “see, I told you I wasn’t good at that”….. “great I just gained ONE pound”….”

 “man, he makes such a great living for his family, I wish I was smart enough to have a job like that”….”blue looks so bad on me”….”my parents said I would never amount to anything and look, they were right”….all of these messages play in our minds incessantly.  They destroy our ability to be “our best selves.”

The truth is…..

We are human….imperfect (so friggin what!!)

We have strengths and weaknesses.

We all suffer self-doubt.

We all have taped messages.

Look at me….I am a facial-hair-growing-hot tempered Italian, who allows my emotions to run away with me.  I sometimes yell and scream and say things I wish I hadn’t.  I will pretty soon have to dip my entire body in hot wax so that I do not look like a gorilla.  I can be stubborn. I never finished college.  I sweat like nobody’s business.  My gas stinks.  My house is dirty.  I want more money.  The list goes on…and while all of those things are true….it is also true that I love my kids and I am not above saying I am sorry when I screw up.  My emotion-driven-self enables me much compassion and empathy for others.  I am a loyal and non-judgemental friend.  I am smart.  I am thrifty.

Am I perfect…nope, not by a very long shot.

Does ugliness reside in my heart…yes, sometimes it does.

Do I mess up…yep, sometimes pretty bad.

What I have learned, continue to learn and work really hard at ( it has not been easy) is REALIZING and BELIEVING that it is in my power to use my mistakes and my imperfections to my advantage, not my downfall.

Instead of pummeling myself with self-deprecation, which renders me disabled to experiencing life fully and hinders my personal growth, I allow myself to feel what I feel, and then, ask myself what I can take away from each experience.  How can I use this “bad” thing to make me better?  What can I learn from this that may be helpful to another?  And I find  some way to keep my negative thoughts about myself from taking a stronghold.  I turn them into a tool that I can use for growth or I just accept them as a part of me….A PART…not the WHOLE!

It isn’t easy to feel or experience negative emotions, it isn’t easy to believe the wonderful things about ourselves, for whatever the reason.  But what the heck is “good enough?”  Who dictated and decided what was “good enough?”

None of us are perfect.

None of us CAN EVER obtain perfection and honestly why would we want to anyway?

We need to stop shooting for some imaginary standard of “good enough.”

LISTEN and HEAR your messages.

Be conscious for the next few days of  your thoughts about yourself.

Identify and decipher them.

Make a decision to make a “new tape.”

Accept yourself.  Your strengths. Your flaws.

Find something you like about yourself and repeat in your head throughout your day.  Then find another one and repeat it to yourself and so on.

Be kind to one another.

And most importantly…BE KIND TO YOURSELF.