Today’s story is a little different in the fact that it is anonymous. My friend wanted to share her story knowing that it would help someone else but she asked that I keep her identity confidential. Her story is powerful and I am so grateful she was willing to share with all of us. We have a wonderful community of supportive women in Get Out There Girl. Thank you for that!
I have only recently been able to ponder on what it means to be compassionate toward myself. What does it mean to love yourself? I was always worried that giving myself praise or love would be selfish and arrogant. However, I’m learning that I was wrong. Having self-compassion means much more than loving my accomplishments and showing-off my abilities. It means caring for and understanding the person that is me, and coming to this realization has brought me strength and joy that I didn’t even remember was possible.
When I was nine years old, I experienced some sexual abuse. I kept the events to myself for years, trying to brush it off as though what had happened, although it caused me pain, fear and sadness, wasn’t anything to fuss over. As I grew and matured, I started to worry that the gravity and the seriousness of what had happened to me was something very wrong and I didn’t know how to make it better, it was just there, a part of my past and I hated myself for it.
I felt weak, powerless, foolish and embarrassed. I felt smothered, and conquered. I was a talented young person and yet I doubted myself at every turn. Many people spoke highly of me and I didn’t have any trouble making friends, but as I continued to grow, I felt like I was living a deceitful life. Although I was constantly receiving positive messages from many sources (my teachers, my church leaders, my coaches, and my family), I was confused and I didn’t feel like I deserved any of it. I told myself that if only others knew how weak I was and how easily I had been taken advantage of, how stupidly naïve I was, and what a terrible person I was, they wouldn’t be impressed, in fact they wouldn’t like me at all. I felt dishonest and trapped. I then fell into the dark world of very hurtful and negative self-talk. I think many of us find ourselves there, for many different reasons. For me, no one knew that I was damaged, no one knew, except me and God and I was afraid of what He thought of me. Soon I found myself degrading every part of who I was. I didn’t like my body, I didn’t like the way I talked, I didn’t like the way I walked, I didn’t like watching videos or seeing pictures of myself because I just hated the person I was. I felt like I was pretty much good for nothing, the world didn’t need me in it.
Years have gone by and I still have so much to learn, but I want to share what I am beginning to understand about self-compassion. Even after being married and creating a beautiful life and an adorable little family, I am guilty of having terrible thoughts toward myself. There have been a very few who I have confided in and who have given me some help along the way, but for the most part I thought that by burying the darkest part of me and moving on, the hate I felt for myself would diminish over time, and I think in some ways, it did. I grew out of some of those negative feelings, yet there have been times when I still feel overwhelmed with fear; fear of being taken advantage of again (yes, even in marriage! It surprised me too), fear of allowing others to know me (all of me), fear of telling myself that I was okay, fear of NOT telling myself that I was okay, fear that if I told others about what had happened, they’d think I was being dramatic, fear that maybe, I WAS being dramatic, fear that if I asked someone for help, they’d think differently of me, or somehow I’d feel worse about myself, fear that I wouldn’t be able to protect my children like I was unable to protect myself, fear that I may unintentionally hurt my children (statistics do say that those who have experienced sexual abuse are more likely to perform sexual abuse on others), fear that I was tiresome to those around me, especially when I had troubles, fear that I wasn’t enough for my husband. There are others who endure so much more than I ever did, and I still hated myself for not being able to forget about what had happened and move on. The truth is, and it has taken me a long time to see it, but the truth is that I was cruel. I was being cruel to a human being. Dumb and worthless were adjectives I may have used for myself, but I never thought of myself as a mean person.
As I learn about self-compassion and what that really means, I think, for the first time, I am truly
beginning to recognize my value. If I step out of myself for a little bit and watch the kind of person I was being from the outside, I am distraught at the meanness I displayed. I can’t imagine saying the things that I was saying to myself to anybody else! I would NEVER treat a little girl, whether she was struggling through trauma or not, but especially if she was, the way that I treated that little girl who was me. Loving yourself does not mean what I thought it meant. I can love myself without thinking I am better than those around me. My pain and heartache does not mean less because another person experienced pain and heartache too, whether it was caused by something similar or something completely different. I had thought somehow, that because it was “just me,” my opinions and feelings were invalid. One of my friends told me that standing up for myself over “small” things can be just as important as “big” things are to others and that sometimes I have the right to assert myself, even though I may inconvenience others. I have had a fear of allowing others to love and comfort me because I did not want to be a bother, I wasn’t worth the effort, I think I actually I thought I was a bother just by existing. I’m beginning to realize, as I see myself from a new viewpoint, I am someone of value. I can let others comfort me and, even if that might be irritating to them, I deserve to be cared about just as much as every other person. I could and should show the same kind of compassion toward myself that I would expect giving to others.
I’m not nearly perfect at it by any means, but now, when I think of that little girl, who was me, who was mocked, humiliated, hurt and used, instead of shunning her, turning away from her, and fighting to be someone else, I want to make an effort to embrace her and recognize who she is. When I feel anxiety over discussing intimacy and sexual purity with my preteen, I will try to embrace that woman, who is me, and speak positive words of comfort to her instead of hating her and shoving her down. Now, when I find myself struggling, still, with sexual anxieties and flashbacks in my marriage, I try to comfort that woman, who is me, instead of ridiculing her and questioning her insecurities. When I fret before every doctor visit and/or cry afterward, instead of telling myself how stupid I am, I imagine that woman, who is me, as someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s friend, another child of God who is in need of a gentle, loving voice, and I try to be that voice for myself. If I’m more understanding and kind to that woman, who is me, how much more understanding and loving toward all other women and people will I be?
As I learn more about myself and build my own confidence, I feel more empowered to connect with others, growing in love toward them and drawing strength from their experiences instead of comparing them to mine. I find that as I recognize the beautiful person that I am, I have greater strength to lift others and my happiness grows deeper and longer-lasting because, not only will I be more able to help, I will be happy even in the company of my own self, whose company I will never be rid of. My hope is that everyone who reads this will make a greater effort to love herself. Be Kind to YOU! You deserve the same kindness that you show toward other people, and you are worthy of compassion, from yourself, others, and from God.
Fit is different than skinny. Fit is an ability. Skinny is an appearance. I’ve always dreamed of being skinny. Growing up I was sure that if I became skinny I would have more friends and my life would be better. When I became an adult I found working out to be fun. I enjoyed the endorphins that came when I would sweat. I fell in love with running in particular. I found that I had a strong body. I’ve often teased that I have a horse for a body because it’s so healthy and strong. It took me a long time to realize my body was one of my talents. I can’t sing or do anything musical but physically I’ve got it. For so long I overlooked that fact because I had my eye on skinny. In my pursuit of skinny, I kept failing. I could lose weight but it wasn’t sustainable. As soon as I would loosen up on my diet I would make it back to the weight my body was comfortable at. I spent so much time wishing my body looked different when really I should have been celebrating what it was capable of.
Just last week when I was hiking the Tetons I found myself looking at pictures thinking “how can my body be this big? I eat healthy and I am in fabulous shape. I workout 6 days a week and feel great, why doesn’t my body look great?” (Some lessons you have to learn over and over again!🤦) The truth of the matter was that I was out having an adventure of a lifetime and Satan was sowing thoughts of doubt in my mind. Why was I spending energy on what my body looked like instead of using that energy to climb the mountains that were in front of me? I stopped myself, gave myself some self-compassion, and started noticing all of my body’s capabilities. My body was allowing me to hike 40 miles in the Tetons. It never failed me. In fact, I came home without sore muscles and went right back to my exercise routine when I got home. I love my body. It allows me to live the life I want. I never have to turn things down because my body can’t keep up. It’s a talent that I recognize and spend time improving. My body is a gift that has nothing to do with what it looks like. I’m fit, not skinny and I’ve learned the difference. Skinny isn’t the goal anymore.
I’ve met people I don’t mesh with. People who I don’t have much in common with and people who I don’t feel happy around. But even with those people I’ve never met a person where, after hearing her story, that my heart didn’t change toward her. Sometimes we just need to give people a second chance at understanding each other.
Take my friend Hollee, for instance. In high school, we had the same circle of friends. There were five of us in the group, and one of her best friends was also one of my best friends. But Hollee and I didn’t get along.
She was the cute girl, confident, wore makeup, had boyfriends, and I was the shy one who didn’t understand fashion or makeup and had very little self-esteem. We were different and never gave each other a proper chance because we were superficial and judgemental.
During those high school years Hollee said some mean things to me, and I said some mean things to her. I simply didn’t like her and she did not like me. When Facebook came around we ended up friending each other on social media. (Remember we weren’t enemies just not fans of each other.) Whenever we’d comment on the same post as friends of friends, I would have a sour taste in my mouth. The negative feelings between us would show up all over again.
Out of the blue, Hollee reached out. She sent me a Facebook message, apologizing for being a brat in high school and for treating me badly. “I’m really really sorry,” she said.
Her message of apology meant a lot to me. I responded back to her message with thanks and that was it for several years.
Then I moved from Virginia to Utah. I needed someone to do my hair, Hollee was a cosmetologist and she lived near my new house, so I called her up. I was willing to trust her because she had sent me that contrite message. I thought that she’d do my hair and we could have a pleasant relationship.
But things changed after that appointment. I went in, she did my hair, and we connected. It turns out, we’re actually a lot alike. As she shared her story and I shared mine, we clicked. It’s been almost 5 years now that we’ve been besties.
We, who disliked each other for so many years, have now been able to share some of our hardest times and some of our greatest heights together. She knows the worst of me and my life and the best. We have a really deep friendship. I love Hollee. She is a genuinely good person who treats others with love and acceptance. She likes to have fun, she gives good advice and she listens with her heart. I feel blessed to have her in my life.
I’ve thought about our story a lot. All the superficiality from high school has melted off and we’ve ended up in a really beautiful friendship that has blessed both of our lives. If we had just written each other off, we’d have missed out on this friendship. We’d never have known how good of friends we would become.
I think the life lesson is: We shouldn’t write somebody off as not worth knowing. Don’t judge others. Just don’t do it! Instead listen to each others stories. Once you hear a person’s story the judgment melts away and there is only room for love. Who knows maybe there is someone in your past that could be your future bf?!
Earlier this year Lisa, from Free Spirited Yoga, contacted me out of the blue and said she had been following us on Instagram and loved our mission. She told me she had a dream of doing a camping yoga retreat and was hoping we could team up with her to pull one off. Of course I said YES and it turned out to be a retreat of a lifetime!
We met up Friday afternoon and hiked up to the Powerhouse Overlook in Springville, Utah. It was a steep 3 mile hike and it was worth every step. The views were incredible in all directions. It is hike I highly recommend. I could have spent hours up there soaking it all up.
After the hike we headed up Spanish Fork Canyon to a place called Beaver Creek. Remember how a week before the retreat I had to switch locations because of spring run off?! It was a lot of stress but it ended up being even better than I had originally planned. Isn’t it funny how life is like that sometimes? Sometimes we have one thing planned that we think is fantastic but then life has something even better in store for us. We just need to surrender and trust.
Beaver Creek was one of the most beautiful campgrounds we had ever seen. We are so grateful that John Pestana let us use his land for our retreat. It was magical.
After setting up tents we did our first yoga session. (We had 3 that weekend)
After yoga our chef, Bailey with undertheknife.cooking, made us an amazing dinner that we all loved! Eating good food during this retreat was the cherry on top. Bailey is amazing!
That evening we relaxed, connected and got to know each other. There were several women who came not knowing anyone. I am so grateful for brave women who step outside their comfort zone to try something new. We all made a lot of new friends.
Day 2 started out with a morning yoga session. It started raining on us during this session. It was just a slight drizzle and ended up adding to the magic of the moment.
After yoga the rain picked up. We changed some of our plans to accommodate the rain (another life lesson) and everything turned out great. We split into two groups and did a self compassion workshop taught by our yoga instructor Lisa, while the other group did a paint activity.
The Self-Compassion workshop was one of my favorite parts of this retreat. Lisa did such a fabulous job teaching us and facilitating a discussion where we all felt safe being vulnerable and authentic. Using self compassion in my daily life has changed my life. Not only am I kinder to myself but I am kinder to those around me. I am also able to accomplish more now that I am not so hard on myself. Having self compassion is a beautiful thing that I hope to spend the rest of my life sharing with others.
The paint activity was so fun. Robyn from @paintnightpallet helped us apply what we had learned about self compassion and chose a picture that would remind us with it’s symbolism.
Swag bags were a fun addition to our retreat. We are so grateful for the company’s who donated items for us.
After the workshop and paint activity the sun came back out! We were able to paddle board on the pond, get henna tattoos, do another session of yoga, a drum mediation and eat another fantastic meal.
Later that night several women headed home to sleep in their own beds. About a dozen of us stayed another night and spent the night chatting by the campfire. It was a wonderful way to end the day.
This truly was a weekend we will never forgot. Being in nature, connecting with other women and learning about self-compassion was the recipe we all needed and felt impacted by.
I’m grateful for so many women who shared their talents with us and helped make this weekend a reality. It is a beautiful thing when women come together.
Hi my name is Brittany and I am a recovering perfectionist. I thought I had to be perfect in order to be loved and valued. I thought everyone was watching me and would only love me if I did everything right and was always happy. I tried as hard as I could but of course I could never attain perfection. I thought love was conditional and at any moment my family and friends would decide I wasn’t worthy of love and I would be the one to blame.
I was really good at hiding this. I worked my butt off to be as perfect as possible. I didn’t get into trouble in my teen years, I got straight A’s and I was an extreme people pleaser. I got my worth from my report cards and praise. It wasn’t until I got married and my husband got to know me on a deeper level than anyone else ever had that I couldn’t hide that part of me anymore.
It manifested itself when there was contention between us. I didn’t trust his love for me. I was constantly worried he would take it away if he was ever displeased with me. When we would get in an argument it would sink me. I would take everything he said as proof that I truly was unlovable. Not only would I be upset about what we argued about but I would also be mad at myself for messing things up and causing grief and contention.
Now keep in mind that I had no idea this wasn’t normal. I thought everyone felt this way. I thought that this was just how life was. We had so many good times where I felt truly happy. It was only when things were bad that I would sink. I would be grumpy for a week beating myself up about how stupid I was. I would blame myself. It wasn’t until I went to counseling that I learned that this wasn’t “normal” and I started uncovering what my core issues were.
I discovered just how much of a people pleaser I was and how extreme my need for perfection was. I uncovered all of my baggage from my life that led me to believe I was unlovable. Most importantly, I learned that my brain was a muscle and just like I could train my body to be healthy I could train my brain to be as well. That was life changing. I got tools to fight off the doubt I had in myself. I learned positive affirmations, I learned self-compassion and I learned that I had value regardless of anything I did.
Journaling my feelings became important to me. I remember one night I journaled all the things that didn’t affect my worth. Things like: how clean my house was, how beautiful I was, how good of a wife I was, how many children I had or the type of adults my children grow up to be, etc. I grew up with strong faith in God and the biggest thing for me that night was to realize that even if I didn’t keep God’s commandments I was still worthy of love. God would love me regardless. I was His daughter and I had value. There was nothing I could or could not do to change my worth. I was born with it and it was unalterable. LIFE CHANGING MOMENT.
As I continued to work with a therapist I also continued to read books and listen to podcasts that taught me important skills. Self-compassion became a huge part of my life. I learned to be kind to myself and allow myself to be human. I am not capable of perfection. NO ONE IS. Being imperfect means I am human. Now, when I don’t reach my idea of perfection I cut myself some slack, remind myself that I am still awesome and I am worthy of love.
I wish I could adequately describe how much this freed my soul. All of the energy I was putting into beating myself up and trying to be perfect was free to go into other areas of my life. I stopped doubting myself and I started believing in myself. Not that I was better than anyone else but that I had value just the way I was. Things changed. Life changed. I started living a fuller life. I started enjoying my life. I accepted my short comings as part of my human nature and moved on without dwelling on them. I saw my strengthens and my weaknesses and embraced them.
At the same time this was happening I had an experience where God told me to get outside and play more. I felt like He was reminding me I only have one life and I needed to live it. I listened. I started doing things I loved more. I stopped telling myself no and making up excuses of why I shouldn’t do things for me. Doing things I loved made me feel alive. It helped me be present and live mindfully. I really started thriving at life.
My family benefited from this. Because I was more awake and present I had more of me to give. My yelling decreased and my patience increased. I was kind to myself and it was rubbing off on my family.
It goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway, I’m not perfect at this. There are days when the positive self-talk exhausts me and I let the grumpiness take over. But never for long. I have the tools and I know what to do that will help me.
My goal with Get Out There Girl is to help other women live their best life through what I call the three pillars. 1- Self-compassion 2- Adventure 3- Connecting with others. Each of these three areas play a key role in living life to the fullest. Follow along as I show you how.