All too often, we’re sooooo influenced by what we see and hear in the media. We’re told what we should – and shouldn’t – be. External opinions dictate who we are, and we often have muffled voices and feel ashamed to sparkle in the same spotlight as those we deem more worthy. Wouldn’t it be nice to be unswayed by “popular” opinion?
Author Christine Arylo was duly inspired by this all-too-common conundrum to write a book called Choosing Me Before We: The Everywoman’s Guide to Life and Love.
Some of her top tips include:
1. Make yourself your own hero. Start admiring qualities that you yourself possess.
2. Stop worrying what others think! (Think of what you want and need first, and how others will react second.)
3. Do things you want to do. (Stop accommodating others and say goodbye to guilt.)
4. Be authentic. When who you are on the outside doesn’t resonate with who you are on the inside, issues arise. It takes guts to surrender your outer self – the one dependent on living up to expectations, ideals, and everything else that society dictates you should be. Take off the mask, it’s freeing. And powerful. If your friends don’t like you for who you are, make new ones. Don’t keep perpetuating false pretenses out of fear. You’ll hurt yourself in the end.
5. Everyone has a gift. Sure, you may not think you’re a painter on Matisse’s level, but that doesn’t mean you weren’t born to paint! Pay attention to compliments people give you, and play to your strengths – as daunting as it may seem.
6. Know what makes you happy. Here’s where a vision board exercise is helpful. Thumb through some of your favorite magazines and clip images which appeal to your sensibilities – which images evoke a sense of happiness? Make a vision board. Cut and paste a collage of cut outs and put it where you feel most creative – next to a window seat, a workbench, your desk, or even on the fridge. Make it visible to you on a daily basis and start taking stock of what drives your happiness. This way, you’ll manifest your own.
7. Control your emotions. This is easier said than done, of course. Become increasingly more aware of your triggers and how they affect your moods. Did someone make a harsh remark? What was it that set you off? Have you said something like that in the past to someone else? Pay attention to what drives you batty and learn the root cause. Don’t give up – this can be a lifelong process.
8. Stand up for what’s right. Forget about what other people will say if you speak up. You may not be popular, but you’re being true to yourself. What’s more critical or gratifying than that?
9. Be truthful. When you speak from your heart, nothing can be truer. Voicing an honest opinion in a diplomatic way will make you feel better and help you gain respect in the long run. This won’t be perfect overnight. It takes time.
10. Be vulnerable. I don’t mean wear your heart on your sleeve – just let your guard down enough to let others in and see where you are coming from. There’s strength in vulnerability. Effrontery, using grandiose words or giving yourself puffed up names won’t make you feel any more real – they’re fast fixes. While it may feel scary to be so open, that the more you reveal the real you, the more others will be willing to share their authentic selves. Funny how that works…
I once posed these questions to myself: Is there strength in vulnerability? Is vulnerability being wholly susceptible?
I know what the answers are for me. What do you think?