For years I suffered from low self-esteem. It began when I started middle school and heightened in high school. During my first pregnancy it grew stronger, and after I gave birth, my low self-esteem issues had reached its peak. I remember crying every time my husband and I would discuss workout plans and weight-loss goals. I would start the conversation, but every time he agreed and continued the conversation with me, I thought that he viewed me the way that I viewed myself. I didn’t love myself and grew to a place where I hated mirrors, taking pictures and shopping. I knew my lack of self-esteem had gotten the best of me when I told my husband I no longer wanted to join our friends at a fight party because I didn’t want them to see me.
I remember watching MTV’s True Life a long time ago and it followed a girl who had body dysmorphic disorder. She looked completely normal, but when she looked in the mirror she saw someone totally different. That’s who I’d become. I would have one pimple on my chin, but saw a face full of pimples, dark spots and imperfections when I looked in the mirror. I would go through a series of outfits before finding one that didn’t make me look overweight. Once I finally met up with my friends, that one outfit I grew to like would turn into to a strong dislike because I didn’t feel it looked as good as my friends.
I’ll save the story of where my lack of self-esteem came from another day.
The way I saw myself began to take a toll on my marriage. Every complement my husband gave me, I rebutted with “you’re just saying that because you feel like you have to.” I would wear shirts to hide my postpartum belly during sex and cringed when I had to change in front of him. He noticed. He would try reassuring me that I was beautiful and that he loved me, but it didn’t make a difference. There wasn’t anything he could do. This was a “me thing” that I had to handle with God.
My breakthrough came after my first corporate fast with my ministry Queen Esther. It was a mixture of what I had been learning in my classes and the peace I gained from God during that fast that helped me. I cried from the relief, and prayed that no woman felt the way I once felt about myself. That meant I needed to start with my little girl. She witnessed my mess first hand, and I refused for it to be passed down to her and generations to come.
I started out validating her on a daily basis. Whenever she would become defeated in her abilities or seek compliments from others, I would reaffirm her. [Read my blog post Mommy I Can’t See, It’s Black to get some background on why it was important that I started her young with affirmations.] Once I noticed that she was great at memorization (between 2 and 3), I introduced affirmations. One of my downfalls was speaking negativity and failure over myself. I knew that the power of life and death was in our tongues so I began teaching my baby to speak over herself. To speak love and power over life. I knew she didn’t understand it just yet, but it was a start. Once she mastered writing legible English, that’s when I introduced writing the affirmations out. She was older so, once she wrote them out, we would talk about each one together.
Now at the age of 7, I simply tell my daughter to either write out 5 affirmations, or say them aloud. She knows that she must explain why she chose each affirmation. I stress to her the importance of not just saying the affirmations because mommy tells her to, but to believe in them. She is required to speak loud and clearly when telling me about herself. I do this because I want her to be confident when speaking the things she know to be true about herself. The feature picture for this post was our affirmation session from yesterday. I was proud for a number of reasons. First, she spelled each word correctly. Second, her handwriting wasn’t bad at all. Third, her reasons behind the affirmations.
- I am beautiful-“Because it’s my middle name and no one can make me feel ugly.”
- I am magic-“Because when I pray for people they feel better.”
- I am one of a kind-“Because just like snowflakes, I was made different from everyone else and I’m my own design.”
- I am cute- “Because I’m adorable.”
- I am Taniya- “Because everyone else is taken, so it’s best being myself.”
My heart was so full. I’m still on a high. My baby get’s it. She’s understanding! I’m already changing the trajectory of the path my family was headed down. I’ve cried to my husband many times fearing that I would lead our daughters to destruction. What I’m teaching my oldest daughter will surely rub off on my youngest. I am healing through raising my daughters, and proving myself to be an example. Yesterday, Taniya made me agree to give her a list of my own affirmations as well “so that I am reminded of how awesome I am.” You see that?… God is using my daughter to challenge me to continue to grow.
Lack of self-esteem was my own demon. I defeated it by not allowing it to trickle down to my children and generations to come. My job isn’t done yet though. There are other generational curses that stem from years of brokenness and lack of help in my family that I intend on breaking as well.
Jada Pinkett-Smith mentioned on her show Red Table Talk, that our children will need therapy regardless. I’m hoping that my children’s therapy sessions are simply ways for them to vent and sort through their thoughts. Not because I failed to show them that they are enough. Not because I failed to show them that they are important, and that their words and feelings mean something.
I hope that this helps someone 🙂