I had a recipe post all typed up and ready to go for today, but last night, I was doing homework with a couple of friends and was inspired to write this post all about how to become your own biggest cheerleader. This idea is definitely tied to overall health and wellness, which is something I’m so passionate about and love to talk about with you all! My friend, Carolyn, joked that I should call this post “How to Be Your Own Valentine.” 😂
As a side note, if you’re single on Valentine’s Day or any day, it’s 110% no indicator of your worth, beauty, or anything else. I planned a dessert night with my single girlfriends tonight for Valentine’s Day and every single one of them is beautiful, intelligent, so empathetic, loving, etc. so you’re no different (and neither am I!).Being my own cheerleader is something I’ve come a LONG way with over the past year or two, and I’ve had to actively learn how to do this because my natural tendency is to beat myself up, critique my flaws, and overanalyze my weaknesses (while even downplaying my strengths)!
Have you ever had the experience of looking back at a picture that you hated right after it was taken (maybe you thought you looked “big” or you hated your hair, etc.) and then seen the picture years later and thought wow, what was I thinking? I looked totally fine/great! I definitely have had that experience, which makes me think…what if we could change our perspective to the more positive one right away, or at least much more quickly?
Give Yourself Pep Talks
I don’t do this perfectly, but I try really hard to not say anything self-deprecating out loud, about anything from my body to my intelligence. The mental game is a little harder, so I actually consciously give myself mini mental pep talks. It sounds silly, but it WORKS. Think about it: why should we talk to ourselves differently than we’d talk to our best friend? Here are a few examples:
When I’m struggling on a run
Livi! You can do it– you’re killing this run, even after a rough night of sleep! You’ve been working so hard– you got this!!
When I’m frustrated that clothes no longer fit (hello shirt from my freshman year of HIGH SCHOOL)
This shirt’s a little tight and it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear, but you’re at a really great healthy weight these days, so let’s think of someone to give it away to! I’m so proud of how far you’ve come with achieving a more balanced health and fitness perspective!
When I see a “bad” picture of myself
Yikes, that’s not the most flattering angle or lighting and it’s on social media? Oh well, fortunately no one else looks at photos of me as closely as I do, and everyone has less-than-flattering pictures!”
Those are just a few examples, but I try to do that with most areas of my life, especially when I catch myself having less-than-positive thoughts. The great thing is that once you start cheering for yourself, you can also rely less on affirmation from other people. And when you’re deliberately choosing a positive mindset and cheering for yourself, it makes it feel more natural to cheer for other people, too!
I do deliberately try to celebrate accomplishments, whether it’s with my family or my closest friends. Or if it’s something like a small personal victory, I may say, “Proud of you, girl!,” crack open a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and treat myself to an episode of This is Us instead of just moving along to my next task right away.
I also wanted share some insight from a couple of my girlfriends who do a great job at being their own cheerleaders.
Don’t Minimize Your Accomplishments
One of my best friends, Riley, has a glowing natural confidence that I really admire, and I love how she doesn’t feel the need to minimize her strengths. Riley will even lovingly call me out when I downplay mine! Here’s what she said.
“I don’t downplay my accomplishments to myself. While I’m a very hard worker and am constantly pushing myself to be better, I don’t hesitate to acknowledge when I’ve had a productive day, done a good deed, or done something else that I consider a “success.” I also try to balance academic and professional hard work with indulging in my hobbies and investing in my friendships and other relationships.”
Run Your Own Race
Learning to “run my own race” has been so key for me in college. We all have different goals, dreams, personalities, families, genes, body types, and everything else under the sun, so comparison doesn’t make sense when it comes to body sizes, job offers, relationship status, or anything. Even still, it’s so common to compare ourselves to other people. I asked my sister, Marissa, to share her thoughts!
“Comparison is an area that was really hard for me particularly in college. I really struggled with comparing myself to others and wanting to be someone God just didn’t design me to be. For instance, I’ve always had shorter, more muscular legs, but I really wanted to have a “thigh gap” like models do. Even at my lowest weight, I never really had a thigh gap– with my narrow hips and muscular legs, it just wasn’t really feasible. During this time, Liv lovingly told me that even though I looked rail thin and had lost weight all over my body, my legs didn’t look much different. In this moment, I realized that I needed to embrace the way God made my body and not try to fight it. All my struggling with weight was useless because I would never have the body of a Victoria Secret model.
Instead of worrying about holding a certain weight now, I’ve grown to love doing what makes me feel BEST– whether that’s eating dessert after dinner or lifting heavy weights at the gym. There are still days when I’m tempted to tear myself down about something I dislike on my body, but I quickly fight these thoughts and remind myself what I love about my body.
As a side note, I married a guy who builds me up so well. For instance, he reminds me constantly his favorite version of me is when I’m wearing my retainer, with my hair in a knot on the top of my head, in my pajamas. When I get a breakout on my face or am having a bad hair day, he reminds me how beautiful I am, and this has really helped further my self confidence getting external validation that God designed me perfectly. I believe self confidence should come from within first, but also having a man who encourages me along the way is a huge blessing.
I love both Riley and Marissa’s responses! There are lots of other ways you can be your own cheerleader, like actively surrounding yourself with people who build you up rather than tear you down, only following social media accounts that encourage and lift you up, and more.
I’d love to hear…how do you try to cheer for and affirm yourself?