“Hi, my name is Yael and I’m a flirt. It’s embarrassing for me. I don’t like it.”
Believe it or not, this was progress.
This is the conversation I had with myself in my room several months ago, before I fell asleep. A fairly revealing talk with my best friend left me thinking. As she had (multiple times) before, she told me that I’m a “flirt.” That “everyone” knew this and it was just a part of who I was. This offended me, so I ignored it – like we all ignore things what we wish to avoid and pretend never existed…ever. But I soon came to realize that “avoidance” is a silly and detrimental thing.
Surprise! None of us are perfect. We ALL know this, yet we have trouble looking at ourselves once we realize that we, in fact, aren’t perfect (whatever “perfect” means). We all have qualities that need fine-tuning or adjusting. To ignore them is to do ourselves a disservice. So let’s empower ourselves and get to tuning!
Years and years of self-analysis, frustration, shamelessly crying, and over-thinking have led me to a place where I know how to “edit” myself pretty effectively and relatively painlessly. Here are some tips I’ve learned that may help you achieve a place of calm and self-acceptance:
- Find your cave. It doesn’t have to be a cave. It can be your bed, the corner of your room, your favorite lawn chair, or even your local ice creamery (I mean…why not). It mostly just needs to be a place you call your own—one you feel blissfully comfortable in. This is your quiet place. Your place to think.
- Get comfortable. We’re about to do some fairly uncomfortable things, so don’t make the situation worse. Use the restroom, make sure you’re properly hydrated, and put on some sweat pants.
- Reflect. Think about your daily actions. Try to hone in on the things that didn’t feel right or perhaps upset you.
- Analyze like you’ve never analyzed before. Try to look at those little bits more carefully and figure out where they are coming from. Is this a recurring pattern? Is it triggered by something else? What can you do to reverse this? What does it make you feel?
- Let it all out. Now that you’ve picked yourself apart, you’ve got to organize! You can’t let these thoughts continue to stew in your brain and transform into a frightening monster you’re likely to run away from (because we’ve been running for far too long). To do this, you should write it down or say it aloud. I personally prefer the latter (though I do write quite frequently as well). When you say your issue out loud, it’s almost as if you are transforming it into an entity that is outside of your self. You hear it from a distance, and it becomes less personal, less internal, and you start to warm up to the idea that it can and should be worked with. The same goes for writing, or really any expressive tool. Once it’s out there, in the open and out of your head, it’s manageable. It’s more concrete. It’s a real, tangible thing you can handle.
- Put your thinking cap on and brainstorm. At this point, you should try to think of solutions for your problem. You don’t have to do this alone if you feel comfortable enough discussing it with a trusted other (but always trust yourself, first and foremost). Think of ways you can change the aspects of yourself that are weighing you down. If you come up with something, I suggest trying to put it into a short, witty mantra so you can carry it around with you in your head, all day every day. If you don’t come up with a solution, it’s not the end of the world. A lot of the time we won’t. It’s important to acknowledge that merely getting it out there in the open is beneficial in itself. The solution will come with time.
- Hop on to the flip side. Get positive! Just like you were once required to do when editing someone’s rough draft in high school English class, it is pertinent that you point out some flaws you may want to address (or keep as part of your quirky bits of flair), but ALSO, and very importantly, make note of the things you really like. When you analyze yourself, you need to also praise yourself for and reflect upon your positives. The things you love about yourself and that others love about you. This creates level-headedness, self-confidence, and self-esteem. Things that suffer when we acquire a tunnel-vision-focus on our personal flaws. You’re awesome. You’re great. Be patient with yourself. You wouldn’t throw out a car just because it needed a few routine maintenance checks—that would be silly. So why would you treat your self-esteem and self-confidence like that? Don’t do it. Just don’t do it. You deserve better than that!
Like most things in this world, it comes back to balance. Treat yourself with care. Do not beat yourself to a pulp with your flaws, and do not raise yourself up to the highest peak with compliments. Do not be afraid to make adjustments you really think will better you as an individual, but do not be too hasty to alter all the little things within you that make you, well… you. This process takes practice, but that practice will lead you to a comfortable place that no amount of avoidance could ever get you. I’m still working to get there, but I can’t wait.