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Self Worth

What does Low Self Worth Look Like?

May 2017

I am going to put a spot light on this rarely discussed topic. Let’s face it; who wants to admit they have low self-worth? We seem to have structured society in such a way that we all need to look, be, behave in a certain way to be accepted, happy, liked, loved..  I have stumbled through half my adult life in complete ignorance that I had low self-worth.  I didn’t realise this was my issue until it no longer was my issue!  And while there are a rare few who are self-aware enough to realise they lack self confidence too many of us bury our real self, put on a façade to the world, are not really happy but just accept mediocrity as life.

Why don’t we talk about the importance of self-love? Why don’t we diagnose low self-worth as the main contributing factor to depression?  And whose responsibility is it to teach us this invaluable life skill?  Should it come from parents or the school system? Do we even recognise that this is a quality required for a successful, happy life?  And if we can’t articulate what it looks like or its importance how on earth do we teach it?

I grew up with the firm belief that loving yourself was a derogatory term. Those who were judged as loving themselves where labelled “up” themselves and frowned upon so it was something I avoided at all costs! I was not encouraged to be proud of myself for any achievement and praise was limited or even withheld for fear that I would become “up” myself.  And I certainly was not encouraged to look in the mirror and love my body nor was I brought up to nurture and appreciate my unique gifts.  When I did attempt to express myself I was told I was too emotional or over sensitive and I was told this well into my adult years.  So I spent a lot of my childhood desperately trying to just blend in, keep the peace and be like everyone else.

In retrospect I see this “up” themselves mentality as being derived from people who themselves suffered from low self-worth. Of course they need to put down those people who openly displayed pride in themselves!  Anyone who has self-confidence and is at peace with who they are would not feel the need to judge others negatively in the first place…

If we are not provided with role models in parents who radiate self-love and as a result are not supported in feeling good about ourselves we are already on the road to failing in this critical quality without any awareness. And then as girls we are exposed to all forms of media who promote constant comparison with the air brushed parade of perfect female forms.  Coupled with very clever advertisements from the beauty, diet and cosmetic industries who have us looking in the mirror and criticising what we see so we are desperate to buy their products to cover up and change ourselves to be like the models or celebrities promoting the product!  Gees; is it any wonder that low self-worth is so rampant in society today?

But what saddens me more than all of the above is that so many of us don’t even realise that we have low self-worth and we stumble through life without ever achieving true peace and happiness. Now that I have finally got my shit together, after 46 years of suffering, I so clearly see women all around me who suffer from this unspoken issue and what makes it worse is that the negative feelings they have about themselves are too often projected onto all those around them without any self-awareness whatsoever.  I know because that used to be me!

Ever noticed how some people are really easy to be around? They are calm, consistent, peaceful, positive, reliable, happy, quietly confident and they actually make you feel good to interact with. You seek out their company and opinion, you trust their feedback, their energy is positive and inviting, encouraging and supportive. You feel you can be honest and open with them, you feel like you can be yourself around them.  This is what healthy self-worth looks and feels like.

And then we have..

The Loud – “Confidence is Silent. Insecurities are Loud!” The girl who speaks loudly, has an opinion on everything and makes sure everyone hears it.  Is constantly talking (loudly) about herself and steers the conversation back to her all the time.  She might ask you a question but once answered immediately turns the conversation back to herself without hearing what you have said.  She also may ask you the same question the very next day! You find yourself avoiding her and limit interactons to necessity only.

The Eggshell – you never know what mood she will be in.  Sometimes she is so sweet and nice and the next day or even hour is so abrupt and rude!  She will have you questioning yourself and doubting that maybe you have done or said something wrong.  You never know what reaction you are going to get so you are in a constant state of apprehension when dealing with her.

The Overly Confident – knows her stuff, confident in her job and is generally in a more senior position. But she is just plain rude to those beneath her (if she acknowledges them at all) or those that are not in an influential position.  She may even ignore you completely even though you have sat 20 meters from her in the office for 6 months!

The Backstabber – takes every opportunity to talk about others behind their back and then sickly sweet to their face. And trust me, if she is going to gossip to you about others she is gossiping about you to others also.  Thrives on office gossip and will elaborate the truth in order to sensationalise the story and make her look like she is in the know.

The Workaholic – the job is all there is to life. First in and last out at night. Rarely takes leave. No outside interests, hobbies, relationships even.  Or there is a relationship at home that they are trying to avoid!

The Obsessive Mother/Wife – cannot talk about anything else but her children/husband. They are the centre of her universe and nothing else exists. Will tell you in minute detail about whatever stage her children or relationship is at and she will always manage to turn the conversation around to mention her child or partner.

The Yo-Yo Dieter – constantly complaining about her weight, (even if she is not actually overweight) starting a new diet every other week and either barely eating anything or is always the one going for seconds or even thirds at morning tea!

The Make You Feel Bad – condescending… has an definite air of being in a higher class and will subtly put you down on any topic.  Appears to be giving you a compliment but long after the conversation has ended you realise that it was in fact an insult. Subtly critical of everything and takes pride in pointing out what YOUR problem is.

The Martyr – puts everyone else before herself and is walked all over. Is stressed, tired, running herself ragged to please everyone and often overweight and/or unhealthy and always sick.  Constantly apologising.

The Fashion/Beauty Addict – you never see her in the same outfit for weeks on end. Constantly shopping and must have a new outfit for every occasion as you cant possibly be seen in the same dress twice! And usually immaculate with makeup and hair; constantly touching up and checking to ensure all is in place.

The Social Media Addict – portrays the perfect life on social media and constantly posting to gain likes and followers, usually in revealing outfits. Stalking and comparing herself to others is a daily sometimes hourly habit.  Often the life that is portrayed in cyber world is very far from her reality.

The Change Hater – stays in the same job for years and years. Still lives with her parents. Still single perhaps. Still doing nothing to make changes to her life to find herself or happiness.  The smallest upset is devastating as without life experiences of change there is no reference point of past challenges or pain.

The Just Plain Unhappy – has the man, kids, house, money even but is not happy and cant figure out why.

Jane – I was loud, eggshell, make you feel bad, fashion/beauty addict and overly confident. I was a shocker!  I cant believe how badly I have behaved.  I seriously had very little awareness of how I impacted others.  As I disliked myself so much and felt so insignificant I honestly thought no one even noticed me.  Even when I would get feedback during an annual performance review I still didn’t believe it!  Surely no one pays any attention to me?  I had spent a lifetime hiding the real Jane and trying to blend in, I couldn’t comprehend that anything I said or did actually mattered. Depression and low self-worth is a very inward focused view of the world; you are literally blinded by your own issues as you are trying so hard to cover them up!

Many of the above will have a closet issue that is not obvious on the surface. For me this was debilitating depression; no one at work had a clue how bad I was! Very few people knew as I was so busy hiding the real Jane.  Living a façade is just second nature when you have low self-worth.  Other issues may include eating disorders, anxiety or substance abuse all of which I dabbled with over the years.  In addition to addictions to shopping, TV, celebrity stalking, partying (which are more socially acceptable) anything at all to either take me out of myself, not spend time with myself or to obtain the next material fix to attempt to make me happy.

I am sure reading through that list you can instantly recognise people in your life like this. Or maybe you recognised yourself..?  It is sooooooo hard to face!  And trust me, I did not wake up one day and decide self-worth was my issue..  I seriously had no clue this was my issue.  I stumbled across the answers to my misery purely by accident; by chasing further vanity and external satisfaction.  My full journey here.

So if we have the courage to admit we have this issue where did it come from and what do we do about it? It is very clear to me where we learn self-hate and I primarily blame the media and the beauty/fashion industry.  (Please read my blogs on these two topics)  But for me I know it started well before I was old enough to be influenced by the media.  When your parents struggle with their own inner demons it is very hard to instil this in children. With a broken home from an early age and the pursuing conflict fuelled by more insecurities on both sides put together with this whole “up” yourself mentality I seriously was no chance.

Children learn behavioural patterns far more by roll modelling the adults in their lives than anything they will learn at school. I am not sure that self-love needs to be taught but rather influenced and inspired.  Parents can certainly foster a more positive environment to nurture this life skill which I have outlined in my blog about raising empowered girls. However, we cant blame our parents, or anyone, and once we are adults we need to take responsibility for our own life and happiness.  We must take control of our own wellbeing and destiny rather than allowing conditioning by society to dominate our lives or continually blaming events of the past.

So what do we do about it…? Isn’t that the million dollar question…!! There is no quick fix and it does require a lot of self-reflection and inner work. Yep; all that hooey crap that I dismissed and resisted my entire life! We are not taught how to tend to our emotional wellbeing and main stream does little to promote and encourage such practices although I do feel the tide is turning. The answers to all our problems truly are inside us; yeah I didn’t believe that either. But once we reduce the constant noise that surrounds us we can hear the answers. I know because it happened to me!

Self-worth has now become the core of my coaching and mission. It breaks my heart to see so many women blindly suffer as I have.  As others in the office dislike and complain about the behaviour of the women who display the above traits I find myself filled with compassion and sadness.  And desperately trying to find a way to connect with the lost soul that I see as the struggling old me.

If anything I have written makes you feel uncomfortable and you would like to explore further I would love to have a confidential chat with you to see how I can support you. Please leave me a comment or contact me here.

Self Worth

How I Beat Depression! My Top 6 Tips

August 2016

I have spent a lifetime obsessed with my weight and appearance, a lifetime chasing the white picket fence dream, and a lifetime suffering from depression!

My life has been littered with addictions, heartache, broken relationships, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and insecurities. I have been in and out of therapy since the age of 16. I have had two attempts on my life, been hospitalised three times, on and off medication and I have searched and searched for the answers to my misery in books, therapists, healers, courses, diets, pills, jobs and relationships.  And while I did have periods of, what I thought was happiness, they were always short lived. I had no real clue as to exactly what my issues were despite all the therapy and my happiness was always derived from the external; people, circumstances and material things. 

If you ask any therapist or self-help guru they will tell you that to get over any emotional issues it all starts on the inside.  Happiness is an inside job right…?  I always thought that statement was a load of crap.  Happiness has nothing to do with your body or appearance…?  How can I possibly be happy when I am too old, fat, ugly…? When I don’t have the man, job, kids, house, money…?  Where does this incredible pressure on women come from?!  And gees; I was slim and reasonably attractive so why the hell wasn’t I happy?!

After missing out on having children and plunging to my lowest point to date which was closely followed by the sudden, suspicious death of my mother…  I suffer an injury that sees me having to completely change my gym routine.  One of my many addictions was cardio/aerobic exercise (to ensure I stayed slim) so weight training was not something I had done previously but was now the only exercise left available for me to fuel my dependence on my body and appearance.  Isn’t weight training what fitness models do…? And once again, I find an avenue to reinforce my need to derive happiness from my body and appearance only this time I get to show it off on stage?! Surely then I will be happy…?

Driven by vanity and low self-esteem (that I was completely oblivious to) I took on the ultimate attempt to satisfy the ego by becoming a fitness model and competing on stage at the tender age of 46. It wasn’t until I was well past the point of no return that I realised I had completely over committed myself. What was I thinking?!  With all my issues I was, of course, very shy and introverted despite mastering the art of covering it up. How was I going to get up on stage and fool the world, like I always had, of how broken I really was? Was I crazy?!  It is through this intense journey that I inadvertently stumble across the answers I had been searching for my entire life. Ironic isn’t it? I started down this road for all the wrong reasons and I ended up on my spiritual journey and curing myself of lifelong misery! So here are my top 6 takeaways of how I have managed to beat lifelong, debilitating depression:

  1. Diet. A funny thing happens when you start to feed your body with nutritious, whole, organic food, drink lots of water, take premium supplementation, give up binge drinking/eating, substance abuse and junk food..  All for the sake of vanity and achieving the perfect female form I had to treat my body with respect; like the temple it actually is.  Not abuse it and take it for granted!  After a life time of self-neglect, being under weight and under nourished my body began firing on all cylinders!
  2. Strength Training. Exercise is not a new one as far as elevating depression however having only done cardio I was very fit but not strong.  And quite frankly I didn’t think as a woman I wanted or needed to be physically strong and anyway didn’t lifting weights make you big and bulky?  This is a myth!  As I started to lift heavy weights my body became more defined and shapely, with more muscle I could burn more calories while resting but what affected me most of all was the physical strength.  It is so god damn empowering!
  3. Lifestyle. The bodybuilding lifestyle is extremely disciplined. There is no room for partying, lack of sleep, eating on the run, skipping meals or the general disarray that was my life.  I had to start cooking real food from scratch, take my food with me wherever I went, get up really early and be organised for the day ahead, sleep 8-9 hours a night and follow a routine that was very foreign to me!  To obtain results, consistency is critical not just with the diet and training aspect but with every facet of life.  It truly is a 24/7 commitment.
  4. Mind. After managing to adjust my lifestyle for the training and diet the next, what seemed to be insurmountable, challenge was to find the courage to strut around on stage in a bikini. I was having nightmares about it!  I knew I had to work on my confidence and I knew I had none! I started seeing a hypnotist and then followed my own nightly routine of meditating, affirmations and visualisations.  I started feeding my mind on all levels with positivity, inspiration and nourishment, blocking out the media and anyone or anything that had a negative influence on me.  I had heard about all these self-help practises before and had always thought it was a load of hooey.  But my vanity was surging through my veins; I would try anything!
  5. Mentor v Therapy. I have seen dozens of psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, therapists, psychoanalysts. All traditional therapy based involving talking about, dissecting and rehashing painful events of the past to establish my misery of today.  Clearly it wasn’t working after 20 odd years of going over the same ground.  And although I had deviated and tried alternate healers it wasn’t until my journey to stage I engaged with professionals that supported me in a way I had never been supported before.  And while the goal was not to cure my depression (they weren’t even aware of how broken I was!) they actually believed in me, respected me, they lifted me higher, they moved me forward in life.  Far more positive!  Having a mentor or coach is a relatively new concept and yet you will not find any successful person in the world who doesn’t have one or even two or three! I now believe this is the best way to change your life if you are stuck.
  6. Passion. While my recovery truly is a combination of many factors if I had to pick one it would be this.  Finding my passion and purpose in life has me jumping out of bed, without hesitation, at 4.30 in the morning, has given me the strength to adhere to the discipline that most can’t fathom, has seen me enduring incredible pain and gives me a feeling of personal empowerment and reward like I have never known.  We are all here for a specific reason and I had searched and searched for mine believing it was hiding behind that allusive picket fence.  But your passion in life has nothing to do with others, has nothing to do with your family or relationship.  It is all about you and the unique gifts that we all have to offer that are just waiting for you to discover.  Life is too short to not live each day with passion and purpose.  I spent 46 years of my life in mediocrity and misery; what a waste!

I now fully understand and appreciate the incredible power of premium health in body, mind and spirit.  And no one should have to go to the extremes I did to work this out!  The lessons I learned and many of the habits I adopted can be easily incorporated into anyone’s life without the extremity.  I have now dedicated my life to supporting women to sparkle with that inner glow that comes from the heart, to find their passion, to reignite that lost mojo that too many of us trade in as we try to fulfil the many roles that society expects of women.  It truly doesn’t have to be so hard!

If you would like more details of my journey and how you can incorporate all I have learned into your own life please click here to purchase my newly published book! Alternatively, please contact me as I would simple LOVE to support you on your own journey of self-discovery. And if you have your own experiences of overcoming emotional issues that I have not covered I would love you to share and leave a comment below.  Lets all help and learn from each other!

Self Worth

8 Tips for Raising Empowered Girls

July 2016

Where do we learn about the importance of self-worth, self-confidence and self-love?  Whose role is it to instill this invaluable quality in our children?  Is it the responsibility of the school system?  Or should it come from parents?  And can anyone even articulate that this is a quality that is so critical to future success and happiness?  And if we can’t articulate it, how do we teach it?!

When I was growing up, loving yourself was a derogatory term; you were said to be “up yourself” so it was a feeling and/or behaviour that I avoided for dear life!  It was frowned upon if you were openly proud of your achievements or portrayed behaviour of feeling good about yourself.  I was not encouraged to love or take pride in my body or celebrate my uniqueness either physically or mentally.  In fact, I spent a lot of my time trying to blend in and be like everyone else.

The school curriculum is still similar to what it was 100 years ago. And while learning to read, write and basic arithmetic is still and always will be critical skills,  I am not sure we have kept up with the incredible fast pace that technology has imposed on us.  We have certainly started teaching the technical skills, I am astounded to see children as young as two using iPads! But it is not just the use of these incredible devices that needs teaching but the associated change in values and behavior that this technology has impacted and the over exposure of what once was private images and topics.

The rate of depression, anxiety, emotional issues, eating disorders, mental illness is at an all-time high.  From 1995 to 2005 the prevalence of eating disorders doubled, 1 in 5 females have an undiagnosed eating disorder, 1 in 100 adolescent girls develop anorexia, 5 in 100 bulimia, emotional issues and depression in teen girls from 2009 to 2014 rose by 55%,  the stats go on and on.  Why is this?  Basically if you look at an average class in school at least 5 girls within that class will have some form of emotional disorder.  What are we doing to vaccinate our children from this suffering?  Childhood is where our belief and value system is installed and with so many of these behaviors in bedded in our subconscious minds it is very difficult to change once we are adults.

I have spent a lifetime trying to work out how to resolve my issues.  I have spent 20 years depressed and miserable; in and out of therapy since the age of 16.  If my parents were more aware of how these issues eventuated in my childhood I am sure they would have done all they could to prevent it.  There is no degree or qualification in being a parent and yet it is one of the most important roles in life and we receive no formal training.  And while we can ensure our children have food, a warm bed and an education how do we know how to raise children to have a strong sense of self?  To foster self-worth in a technological world that bombards us with competition, comparison to others and messages of unworthiness?  If parents suffer from their own self-worth issues it is often passed on but having blindly walked through the majority of my life without realising self-worth was my issue I am not sure that many people/parents actually realise this is the issue!

Unfortunately I missed out on being a mother.  My issues ran so deep that I was not able to sort myself out in time and my biological clock expired.  At the time, it nearly crucified me and I reached an all-time low after numerous failed IVF treatments to become a single mother.  Looking back now, reaching rock bottom was a turning point, as is so often the case, and I can now say that I am at peace with not being a mother.  My children have fur 🙂

So it is from the standpoint of a wounded child, disturbed teenager and then suffering adult, from a woman that has nearly lost her life due to low self-worth. From a woman who is now fully recovered and very self-aware I have concluded the following of where my lack of self-worth originated and what I wish I had been given in my childhood.

​1. Unconditional Love.  Seems to be a throw away term but what does it actually mean? The definition that resonates with me is it means love without any limitations or conditions.  It’s about caring about and making a priority your child’s happiness and well being above all else, and in some cases above your own, and without any thought of what you might get for yourself.  For me this translates to making decisions in life with the welfare of your child in the forefront of your mind, loving and accepting your child no matter what they are good at or not good at, through successes and failures, especially failures, not expecting your child to be anything else but themselves, forgiveness in all and every circumstance and constant encouragement and reinforcement through actions over words that the love of a parent is eternal and will not waiver no matter what happens. Providing security and safety; a place of comfort and an environment where they are able express themselves openly without fear.

​2. Good Health. The basics of nutrition and what our bodies need to achieve premium health is not really taught in school.  Involving children in shopping, preparing and cooking food is a vital life skill and is also a good bonding activity.  Educating children on the differences between manufactured, man-made food and whole food is a lesson that I stumbled across; lucky for me it was not through necessity of physical illness.  Society as a whole falls victim to clever marketing and advertising of the food industry; reading labels, checking what ingredients are in foods that we eat needs to become part of our lives.  Promoting regular exercise and incorporating it as a normal way of living is critical.  Family walks I think are a tremendous way to bond while getting some fresh air and exercise.  I recovered from my depression partly due to achieving premium health; I now believe that to be successful in life, to be strong in mind, a strong, healthy body is key. Learning to nourish your body is learning to respect your body.

3. Relationship Model. 
 One of the reasons I have found it so difficult to find a loving, committed, life-long relationship is due to not having a parental relationship worthy of modelling.  I have no clue what a loving, committed relationship looks or feels like. I have no idea how a man and woman in a loving relationship behave and treat each other.  I feel very strongly that if parents don’t feel they belong together they need to part ways; staying for the sake of children only ensures that they model a dysfunctional relationship and repeat the same pattern in their adult relationships.   
 
4. Self-Care As women, we seem to put the needs of others before our own.  We wind up feeling guilty if we want to indulge in a manicure or go the gym or even just spend some alone time shopping or taking a bath.  And although there is definitely a need to sacrifice for our children there still has to be balance. We can’t give from an empty vessel; we need to fill ourselves up first before we can be there for others. Teaching children to take care of themselves through good health and exercise, making time for their passions and interests, the importance of alone time and balance between activity and quiet time, that looking after yourself is not something to feel guilty about but is a normal part of life.
 
5. Body Love. This is the number one source of anguish for teenage girls.  Teaching girls that the endless parade of perfect bodies on all forms of media is not reality.  Being aware, and protecting where possible, that media, both mainstream and social, is where so many of these messages of competition and comparison are derived. Fostering a love and respect for their bodies as the miraculous machine that keeps them alive and has to last a very long time rather than the source of their self-worth. Treating the vessel that houses their soul with the utmost respect, grooming it, bathing it, nourishing it, exercising it, lovingly appreciating and taking care of every part of it. Celebrating the uniqueness and differences in everyone’s body and instilling a sense of pride of their own personal style even if it is different from your own or their friends.

6. Quality Relationships.  Teaching the difference between genuine friendships and acquaintances and the importance of maintaining the good ones is another skill I wish I had learnt throughout childhood.  Women are notoriously bitchy!  Often driven by low self-worth…  but learning to recognise and foster the sincere relationships, learning how to be a reliable, caring, trusty worthy friend, the importance of having a couple of close confidants over a dozen acquaintances who barely know you, that being popular is not the goal.  Also, respect and loyalty to family; fostering a family unit and placing a priority on family love over romantic love.  Unconditional love is not just for the parent/child relationship but should extend to the sibling relationship. A parent is in the unique position to ensure that sibling love is one of the quality relationships that must be fostered and respected as it has to last and serve as a replacement after parents have passed.

7. Respect Individuality.  This is closely related to unconditional love but I want to be a little more specific. I was a shy, introverted young girl and more so through my teen years after an interstate move at the age of 14. I felt constant pressure to be more sociable, to be outgoing, to talk more, to be what I so clearly wasn’t…  I was told I was too sensitive, too emotional, that I over reacted to everything and I was told this well into my adult years. Pressuring a teen (or anyone) to be a certain way that doesn’t come naturally to them is not going to foster self-worth. The message being sent is that you are not good enough the way you are.  If the temperament is quiet and reserved, encourage interests and passions that are aligned with this kind of personality; reading, writing, individual sport, music, while also encouraging the quality friendship aspect with obviously a one on one rather than group activity.  If sociable, then encourage the group activity concept but also ensuring that the importance of alone time is also understood. Either is ok!

8. Personal Tool Box.  In times of stress, pressure, confusion, sadness, grief or any other negative challenge that is inevitable, a suite of tools that can be utilised to ride through the down times.  We are not taught in school how to deal with the challenges in life such as death, depression, divorce, heartache and while these are usually adult dilemmas I wish that I had been taught through my childhood and teen years the mental and spiritual tools I used to recover from depression.  These could be personal mantras or affirmations, the benefits of meditation or yoga or tai chi, journaling, how to visualise to achieve goals and move forward in life,  the importance of gratitude, the value of having a coach or mentor outside the family unit, the importance of personal development and ongoing learning about oneself. Or any other spiritual tool that resonates.

​I have used the word teach a lot however children learn far more by observation of their parents behaviour and attitude to life.  If a parent is not comfortable with any of these points it is going to be very hard to incorporate them within the family environment.  I now understand why I missed out on having children as I would only have passed on all my negative beliefs and issues to my children.  I naively assumed that having children of my own would correct my own difficult childhood.  And although I would have taken care to not repeat the few traumatic events of my own upbringing it is the lack of self-worth that has plagued my adult years, that I wasn’t even aware of, that would have shone through and affected my children.

I am no expert by any means and these comments are all my personal opinion formed from my own heartaches.  And I can hear many parents saying that discipline is necessary which I am not denying.  If discipline is conducted with respect and with all these suggestions in mind then maybe, just maybe, we can tackle the increasing number of wounded children, teens and therefore adults and empower girls to go out into the world being the best they can be from the outset.  And not waste 46 years like I have!

“A mother who radiates self-love & self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.”

Naomi Wolf

Self Worth

Why do we use so many Beauty Products?

June 2016

Why do we paint makeup all over our face and eyes? Why do we smother our face at night with cleanser, toner and expensive anti-wrinkle cream? Have a think about all the beauty products and makeup in your bathroom cupboard; why, as women, do we feel we have to use all these chemically laden products?  If you looked in the bathroom cupboard of your great grandmother do you think you would see this wide array of products?

The beauty industry has come a long way in the last century and while women have used makeup since ancient Egypt you have to ask yourself why this industry is worth billions and billions of dollars and grows by around 7% every year.  Even in these tough economic times we all still make sure we have our cosmetic and skin care products. How is it that we have prioritised these products as high on our shopping list as food?

What do you think the aim of the marketing department is at one of these cosmetic giants?  To sell more products, of course, but how do they manage to achieve this incredible growth and influence over our minds and buying dollar to such an extent? The beauty industry is not actually about helping us feel beautiful; let me say that again…  The beauty industry is NOT about helping you feel beautiful; because if you did already feel beautiful, just the way you are, accepting all your flaws and proudly showing them off to the world, then why would you have a need for the growing number of beauty products in your bathroom cupboard..?

The advertisers and marketing executives of the beauty industry’s sole purpose is to make sure you feel inadequate and insecure; so that you look in the mirror and you DON’T like what you see. That you look in the mirror and compare yourself to the photo-shopped, air-brushed, flawless looking skin of the model in their ad and bingo, you buy their product!

“You will never look like the girl in the magazine. The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine.”

The funny thing is we all actually know that the models and celebrities who advertise these products don’t actually look like that in everyday life.  And yet we still feel the need to strive for this unrealistic perfection.  One of the many reasons I no longer watch main stream media is due to the endless parade of flawless women; we are bombarded with these images everywhere we turn.  This alone creates a belief that we all should look like that.  Constantly subscribing to this nonsense and comparing ourselves to this fantasy land creates insecurities and low self-worth, whether you realise it is or not.  If you continually judge yourself and others to a computer generated image you will never stop feeling insecure!  And sadly, this is be design.

So how on earth did our great grandmothers attract their husband without all these beauty products…?  Seems that love, sex and attraction was happening well before we had all these modern day cosmetics…. otherwise we wouldn’t be here! So you have to ask yourself, how did women attract men without all these cosmetics?  Maybe they were more comfortable in their own skin? More authentic with who they really are, and perhaps life was a little more simple back then and there was less comparison to others…?

If we have a look at what main stream media was offering up to women in the 30s, 40s and 50s it was very, very conservative by today’s standards.  Pictures were usually in black and white, if there were pictures at all.  The newspaper was very often the only way they were receiving news and generally this was just news rather than the pages and pages of advertisements we see today. There was certainly no TV, internet and glossy, colour magazines were often only for the wealthy.  This comparison to others that women seem to be so engrossed in was confined to friends, neighbours and family. Viewing celebrities was confined to the movie theatre where they were actually acting and performing in a movie and are not supposed to look like they usually do.

We may look back on these “olden times” and claim how backward and ill-informed they all were.  How little they knew about the world and naïve they now seem.  And while there certainly are many benefits that we all enjoy today with the immediacy of information and the incredible tool we have at our fingertips to research any subject imaginable, do we use it for expanding our knowledge?  Or do we allow ourselves to be influenced and sucked in by the latest fashion, reality drama, clever advertising and who is wearing what on the red carpet?

It is incredibly clear to me that main stream media is the cause and source of women’s issues with body image and the resulting emotional and eating disorders.  The advertisers are all too aware of how to prey on women and make sure they look in the mirror and criticize what they see.  And for an industry that continually grows year on year and with the epidemic of women’s low self-worth now at an all-time high; is it a coincidence?  I don’t think so…

The other thing to note with these products is that they are laden with chemicals.  It takes 26 seconds for these chemicals to pass through your skin and enter your blood stream.  If you wouldn’t eat your beauty products then why would you put these poisons on your skin?  We blindly assume that these chemicals have been tested and someone out there is ensuring these products are safe.  Who is this someone? The company that is trying to make a profit from you? And probably tests on animals…?  And what are the long term effects of use?  Just because you don’t die immediately from these products doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk..

Self-confidence is BY FAR the most attractive quality any woman can own.  If we could bottle and sell that feeling the beauty industry would finally have competition and sales would decline. I have spent my entire adult life hating what I see in the mirror and suffering from low self-esteem; and I didn’t even know it!  The beauty industry has certainly played a huge role in my downfall and the funny thing is now I have finally won the battle with my internal demons I wear less make up today than I ever have before!  I am so opposed to the incredible amount of chemicals in these products that I also now use very simple, organic skin care products too.

Turning off from main stream media has HUGE benefits; you can read more about this on my blog Media Free Diet.  Turning off from the beauty industry is a little harder and I will admit that I will always wear make-up at the appropriate occasion; the important thing is to be aware of how we are influenced, how the advertisers play our emotions and learn to rise above all the rubbish.  I promise you will have more peace, more confidence and more money when you do!  You have so much more to offer this world; be real with yourself and ask yourself some tough questions about your motivation with your beauty products. And if anything I have written has made you feel uncomfortable I would love you to leave a comment below.

Self Worth

Facebook Free Life

November 2015

Has Facebook become yet another addiction like TV?  Could you go a week without logging in?  Or even longer?  If not, why not…?

If you have read my previous blog on a Media Free Diet you will know that I very rarely watch the news or expose myself to anything in main stream media and the reasons why I have made this choice.  Click here to read.

Recently after yet another major negative event that the media cleverly provoked emotions and a frenzy of opinions I began to realise that Facebook was becoming another platform for this negative influence on me.  I don’t have to watch the news as I only need scroll through my Facebook feed to find out what is going on and worse that we are even more influenced by the media that we now feel the need to voice our opinion on hot topics that the media have chosen to sensationalise to attract viewers.  Aren’t we just regurgitating the opinion of the media?  There are always two sides to every story; do we ever research other aspects of the story before voicing our view?  Or are we just believing that A Current Affair is reporting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth….? And where does this incredible need to voice our opinion so publicly come from?  Just because we have this forum doesn’t mean we have to wade into the debate of the day?  I think another one of my blogs on why insecurities are so loud would be appropriate to mention here.  Click here to read.

Unlike my divorce from main stream media I made a conscious decision that I would stop voicing my own misguided opinion, stop posting on Facebook,  and I even took it one step further and stopped logging in unless answering private messages.   I grew up in an age with no mobile phones, no Google, no internet and certainly no Facebook.   I used to ride my bike to my friends place to catch up or pick up the phone to actually speak to my friends.   How have we slipped into this virtual relationship with all our friends and family?  Am I just getting old?  Are these old fashioned values gone forever?

“Heavy Facebook use has been known to cause anxiety, depression, narcissism, sleeping problems and even stomach aches” Dr Larry Rosen has done numerous studies and has written extensively on this topic.  More here.

Just like giving up main stream media I had no idea the impact that social media was having on me until I removed it from my life.  And the personal growth and time I have discovered since has truly transformed my life!

Here is what I have learned from my Facebook free life:

  1. Time and Space.  The universe loves space; it creates a vacuum to be filled and depending on where you are in your journey of personal growth you will find inspiration of how to fill in this time.  Hopefully not with TV….  but spend that hour a day you used to spend on Facebook in the real world.  Read a book.  Talk to a friend.  Play with your pet.  Go for a walk.  Bake a cake. Cook a gourmet meal.  Volunteer.  Find a new hobby.  Enrol in a short course.  Study.  Join a Meetup group and make new friends. Make a list of your goals and work towards them.  I realise that many use their commute to log into Facebook but even this time can be used more productively cant it?  Listen to a podcast, listen to an inspirational speaker, read a book?  For me I was led to further my knowledge and education on a subject that I have been ignoring for too long; a whole new world and future has opened up for me and I am so excited!
  2. True Friends. We seem to have created more online friends than real life friends.  Are we all caught up in some virtual game?  Maybe I am showing my age here but surely talking with, meeting up with, seeing in the flesh friends are more valuable than people who only comment on your photo of your breakfast or your latest check in?  Your true friends will make time for you outside Facebook and won’t rely on status updates to find out about your life.  Why do we put these virtual friends before the true friends in our life?
  3. Sense of Self.  Facebook can have a huge impact on your self-esteem if you are reliant on ‘likes’ and comments to your posts.  And worse Facebook only rewards you with more visibility for your posts depending on the number of likes you get!  Did you know that on a business Facebook page hardly any fans see the posts unless there are ‘likes’ and comments?  Otherwise you have to pay for your post to be seen!  So it’s no wonder we base our sense of self or popularity on how many likes we get.  Isn’t this constantly seeking approval from others?  Doesn’t this promote constant competition? And why is it some people keep re-posting their popular photos of themselves so we see it again and they can receive a new round of ‘likes’ and comments; do they need constant re-enforcement from the same photo?   I tell you I am very glad I grew up without Facebook; so much additional pressure for teenagers!  To look good, to have the latest fashion, to be slim….  Give up the need to participate in the self-promotion rat race, focus on yourself and stop comparing yourself to everyone in your news feed.
  4. Sense of Calm.  The quieter you become, the more you can hear…  We spend a tremendous amount of time distracting ourselves from ourselves.  The TV or radio is always on and then we log into Facebook to further distract ourselves.  But aren’t we distracting ourselves from our own life?  Is our own life so boring or not worth our attention that we need to escape into a virtual world?  It is amazing what inspiration comes to mind when you allow silence to become a part of your life.  If you are constantly distracted how will you come up with that great new idea? There is so much noise out there when you choose to limit the amount of influence it has on you and put your peace of mind ahead of keeping updated on what so and so did for the weekend your life will become calmer, more peaceful and less stressful!
  5. Let go of the Past.  Facebook can be a terrific tool to connect with long, lost friends and to stay connected to friends and family all over the world.  However we all have skeletons in the closet; ask yourself what good it does you to say connected to people that have had a negative impact on your or your life.  How do you feel when you see something in your news feed from “that” old boy/girlfriend?  Do we really need to carry around 1,000 odd friends with us for the rest of our lives?  How many people on your friends list do you really want to still be friends with?  I have no problems in defriending those that I don’t feel enrich my life in a positive way.  Life is always changing, we are always changing and growing.  Nothing stands still.  Let go of the past and focus on the present!

There is no doubt that Facebook is a wonderful tool for staying connected and sharing news and photos easily.  And if you are active on pages that provide positive and motivational quotes and inspiration it can certainly be a good influence.  There can be positives however in an age where low self-esteem is rampant and we struggle with time to cook good food and exercise….  Ask yourself if anything I have written in this blog has provoked some emotion in you?  And why that is. Leave me a comment below.

“Do not let another day go by where your dedication to other people’s opinion is greater than your dedication to your own emotions! Journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others.”

Dr Steve Maraboli

 

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Self Worth

Confidence is Silent, Insecurities are Loud!

April 2015

Have you ever noticed that some people quietly go about their business and are not concerned what others think?  When faced with a situation of differing opinions or someone with a problem they just listen and empathise?  They will offer their opinion when asked but respect that everyone feels and sees things differently?  They are easy to be around.

Are you always trying to convince others that the way you see things is the only way to view a situation? Do you have disagreements because your opinion is right and you won’t accept another point of view? Do you always have to have your say and voice your opinion? Are you so closed off to how others feel (because you don’t agree with how they feel) that you find it difficult to have a calm conversation about it?

I have to admit this has been me for the majority of my life.  I was well known for giving “The Curnow Crunch” Lol!  I wouldn’t hesitate to tell people what I thought and I would never stop to think before shooting off.  I thought I had convinced myself that I didn’t care how others felt or my impact on others.  I actually didn’t think I had much of an impact on others hence the need to force my point of view.  I used to think that I just didn’t fit in and that others were just plain stupid for not seeing things the way I did.  Sometimes I would go back and give a double handed apology; standing by my opinion (because I was right) but sorry that I was so aggressive in my approach (because deep down I felt bad but didn’t realise why)

It has only recently occurred to me why I have always behaved like this and more importantly that I no longer feel the need to engage in this kind of behaviour.  Phew!  Already my life has become more peaceful.  It’s so weird how we put ourselves under so much additional pressure!

The reasons behind feeling insecure will be different for all of us.  We all carry scars from history but the important thing is to not only accept that the past is something we can do nothing about, recognise that how you behave is due to feeling insecure and work on changing your behaviour today.   Not so easy when you are still feeling insecure or worse are in denial that this is why you behave that way (which was me down to a tee!)  When you don’t feel good about yourself we tend to find ways to project this onto others with this weird expectation that if we make others feel inferior, if we force our view on to others then somehow that will help us feel better about ourselves.  Doesn’t usually work…

So how do we overcome a lifetime of conditioning to feel secure enough within ourselves so we don’t need to be so “loud”?  How do we detach ourselves from the need to always voice our opinion? Here are my top 5 tips for becoming confidently silent!

  1. Do your inner work – by this I mean meditating, spending time alone, journaling, get to know yourself, read inspirational books, practise gratitude, kindness and forgiveness and make the time to look after yourself both physically and emotionally.
  2. Respect others feelings – we all view life very differently based on our past and life conditioning.  No one’s feelings or opinions are right or wrong and as I am fairly certain we live in a democratic society we are entitled to feel however we want.
  3. Listen – instead of jumping in with your opinion or view try listening and empathising.  Practise reflective listening ie. Repeat back in your own words what you understand has been said. Keep your opinion and advice to yourself unless specifically asked.
  4. Don’t respond to rude, argumentative, critical comments.  You don’t have to participate in every argument you are invited to particularly when the attitude is already a negative one.  I find no response at all is the best option.  If you don’t engage with the negativity there is nothing for the other person to feed on.
  5. Let go – of needing to be right, the need to win, to be superior, of your reputation, being offended, of your ego…

Respecting others begins with respecting yourself.   It is very difficult to find value in others when you are blinded by your own lack of self-worth.  It’s a tough one to come to terms with but I promise you once you do your life will change in ways you have only dreamed of!

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Self Worth

The Perfect Female Form

January 2015
Jane Curnow

What is the perfect female form? Where is it written that as women our bodies must be a certain size and shape? We all strive, sacrifice and place ourselves under so much stress to achieve this modern day, dare I say, illusion and then beat ourselves up when we fall short. Did our great grandmothers feel the same pressure? Do women in villages in Africa today feel this pressure? Where did we get this obsession of comparing ourselves to others? And surely there are more important things in life?

What does it feel like to actually achieve the perfect female form? Do you think that if you managed to achieve it you would be happier? Is this the answer to all your problems? I have been fortunate enough to be slim most of my life (so why wasn’t I happy..?), however I have not escaped eating disorders or the intense pressure too many women feel about their bodies. Having debuted as a bikini model at the tender age of 46, at an age where surely the pressure lessens? I have learnt some valuable and life changing lessons on chasing this illusion and is why I feel so passionate about supporting women to feel good about themselves whatever their size!

I will be honest with you, although on the outside I have always appeared attractive, I have not loved myself, I have not treated myself with respect and I had no idea that this was the core of my issues. I was ugly on the inside but couldn’t see it although realised that I was far from happy. I was also shy and introverted, I had no confidence in any area of my life (although you never would have guessed it) and I went to extraordinary lengths to hide the real Jane. Born from a lack of unconditional love I have spent a lifetime believing there is something wrong with me, attracting relationships and circumstances that did not foster a positive self image and always searching for the answer of how to “fix” myself.Therapists/books/courses/diets/relationships/addictions the list goes on and on of things I have tried to correct and to hide from my perceived flaws. So in my mid 40’s, having missed out on having children due to my inability to “fix” myself in time, and quite clearly hating myself even more, (but didn’t know it) I go to the HUGE lengths of getting up on stage in a bikini. Surely if I obtain the perfect female form AND get the attention and adoration of everyone I will be happy and feel good about myself?

I started down this road for all the wrong reasons; for vanity, for attention, to fill a void, to obtain the perfect female form and to finally be happy… Really? Is that the answer?

A funny thing happens when you start treating your body with love and respect. When you start nurturing it with the right fuel and you become physically strong through resistance training. Most would say you have to be mentally strong to compete in the body building world. I would definitely agree, however, I certainly didn’t start out that way and I am not sure most women do. And although I can now freely admit that I am addicted to this new way of life (I have been addicted to far worse!) it has given me what I have spent my entire life searching for; self respect. Ironic isn’t it? Too many women tie their self esteem to their bodies without appreciating the soul that body houses. It stands to reason if you start treating your body with love and respect, when you start to feel the affects of premium health and wellbeing, that your mind will follow and low and behold there is this amazing women inside and guess what? she has always been there!

Well you know the ending to my story; I achieved it. That is me in the picture attached to this blog. I managed to get myself on stage twice and I have had numerous photo shoots and captured all my blood, sweat and tears. And believe me there were a lot of tears. A journey that nearly broke me physically, emotionally, mentally, financially; I lost friends (think that was really a gain), my family didn’t support me, cleared a large chunk of my savings, I have even had trouble securing corporate work. Talk about sacrifices for the sake of obtaining this illusive perfect female form! We look at images of these women and aspire to have their bodies but I don’t think anyone realises what it takes to achieve and how difficult it is to maintain. Did I “fix” myself? Was I even broken? I have certainly come a long way but NOT because of the body I now own, oddly that is not even my main priority anymore (I am now trying to put on weight lol!) but because of the woman I have become, because of the qualities I now possess, because on this journey I was forced to look deep inside to get this shy ass girl on stage! I finally did find the answer and it was within me all along. There is nothing wrong with me!!! Did I really have to go to such lengths to work this out??!!!

So how do you love and accept the body that you have, the beautiful woman that you already are, while striving for a healthier, happier you? Isn’t that the million dollar question! And why I now devote my life to supporting my clients and sharing all my secrets of how I got this introverted, self loathing girl on stage and how I have finally became the woman I was born to be. When you focus on nurturing, caring and loving your body, when you start making yourself a priority in a world that is constantly demanding you to give up your authenticity, truly magical things start happening in your life. No woman should miss out on this amazing feeling of empowerment that I stumbled across while chasing an illusion. And no one should have to go to the extremes I did to learn this lesson!

The perfect female form is a modern day illusion created by mass media. And we have all been sucked in and brain washed. In our so called democratic society we overlook the fact that the advertising and media industry is a business, big business. Once upon a time, when we were a tad more modest and conservative, we were only exposed to images from the media through black and white newspapers. With the advent of magazines, TV, the internet, smart phones etc. and our seemingly endless need to reveal more and more human nakedness we are bombarded everywhere we turn by these images. We have become a society of voyeurs, reality TV shows have become the norm and you only have to look at the phenomenal success of Miley Cyrus, who has exploited the media superbly; love her or hate her, everyone is watching her. Everywhere we turn, including on screens in nearly every gym (?!), we see an image of a female form that is whose version of perfect?

A beautiful woman is caring, kind, compassionate, grateful, self assured, dignified, loyal, sensitive, humble, supportive, respectful, elegant, passionate, vibrant, honest, authentic, strong; she makes others feel good simply by her presence, she inspires and she ads value., she is an amazing friend, mother, daughter and sister. And the last time I checked, none of these qualities have anything to do with your weight!