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  • Loving Yourself on Valentine’s

    Valentine’s Day is a holiday frequently met with one of two divergent reactions by women: sweet sensations of giddy heart butterflies, or a gag reflex.  Some in the middle may express utter indifference; but at the true soul core of every woman, there is that deep longing to be doted on and loved so rapturously; which is what most suppose that Valentines Day celebrates, right??? Unfortunately, that romantic day of red roses and chocolate bliss is frequently not a reality for many women- even those in long-term committed relationships. Often, this holiday of hearts is a stinging reminder of one’s own loneliness.  And contrary to popular belief, one doesn’t have to be single to be lonely.  Loneliness can hit at any time and in any circumstance.  The problem with loneliness is that it often triggers a woman’s deep insecurities… the insecurities that, I believe, the universal woman battles: “Am I beautiful?” …and “Am I worth being loved?” Sometimes those insecurities stem from things you experienced or were told as a child.  Sometimes, they are a direct result from adult relationships or lack of successful/healthy relationships.  Sometimes, they come from false perceptions of what beauty and worth really are.  Sometimes they are a mixture of all three! But no matter where they came from, it’s time to bid those insecurity lies an N’Sync “BYE BYE BYE!”  Here’s the truth:

    You are Beautiful!

    Have you ever noticed the enormous amount of cultural pressure for women to conform to an ideal body image and physical appearance?  It is EVERYWHERE!!! Standing in line at the grocery store, you just have to turn your head to the magazine rack staring you in the face and you will see headline after headline promising effective diet tips, pills for rapid weight loss, anti-aging cream, ways to get rid of crow’s feet and cover-up products for blemishes.  Flip on social media and you will see the very same!  Ads and shared posts about products that “work;” tips, tricks and hacks on how to “lose weight and feel great!”  My women, we are drowning in this crap! No wonder most studies into the top insecurities of women cite height, weight, age, acne, breast size, stretch marks, and style among the most common! When this is all we see, it quickly becomes our comparison measuring stick for what beauty is and isn’t.  And sadly, societal standards of beauty are taught from childhood; starting with Barbie dolls and Princesses.  Now while those things in and of themselves may not be harmful, the danger lies in little girls believing they must add something to or change something about themselves in order for society to accept them.

    In the early 2000s, Dove launched a campaign for self-esteem and true beauty upon learning that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful.  FOUR PERCENT!!!! Is that really accurate?? Are only 4% of women in the world beautiful?!! NOOOOOO!!!! We have fallen prey to the deception of celebrity culture and media. Now please hear me on this, clearly we know the health benefits of nutritional eating and exercise.  Healthy living in general can not only improve your general mood and well-being but can also prolong your life!  But where this becomes extreme and UNHEALTHY is when we begin to fat-shame ourselves based on a false ideal.  Case in point: Are you aware that most of what you see in magazines isn’t real?? It’s called photoshop (see the example of a before and after picture of a woman from a Dove commercial on the make-up and photoshop process).  And not only that, many runway models battle eating disorders as a result of unrealistic weight expectations for their jobs, frequently achieving bodies that resemble something much closer to malnutrition and starvation.

    So what is real beauty, then??? I believe… REAL beauty is the REAL you.  WHO YOU ARE… internally, not externally.  We have all been impacted at one time or another by inner beauty in someone else.  What’s so wild about it- is that inner beauty naturally shines outwardly; it attracts us to people in ways far deeper than external physique.  And naturally, we know this about others.  Rarely do we ever look at our friends and think, “wow she is really ugly.”  I myself have been baffled again and again by friends of mine who tell me they are too fat or unattractive when I think they are absolutely stunning! I think most women can relate!  How often, even, have I sat with an elderly woman for a chat and walked away thinking how beautiful she is!  So why is it so easy to see beauty in others, but not in ourselves?! How often do we critique our own physical flaws and imperfections when in reality, the people who love us rarely see what we are complaining about?!  …But you may be thinking… what about romance?  Do you sometimes wonder if you are attractive because no one has asked you on a date recently?  Or maybe you’ve been out on a few dates, but no one has given you the commitment you are searching for?  Or maybe, you did meet someone at the alter, but they have done something or said something that has caused you to question your beauty or your attractiveness.  Based on these experiences, it is easy to assume or surmise you didn’t get the gorgeous gene.  But is that really true?? Or are these untrue assumptions that have infiltrated your mind?! If they are assumptions that dwell within your own mind, it may be time to begin challenging your negative thinking errors! And sometimes it can be our thoughts and perceptions that are posing greater threats and barriers to relational success, not our appearance! But what if someone actually made a negative comment about your appearance? Does that make it more true? It can certainly feel that way as it can plant a seed of doubt in even the toughest women.  But if anyone has cut you down based on your appearance, your weight, or called you anything less than beautiful, that is UNACCEPTABLE.  Especially in light of the insane amount of crushing pressure women are already under to reach an ideal acceptable image.  The reasons why anyone might wound a woman’s self-image in such a horrible way might deserve its own blog.  But a few quick reasons might include their own insecurity, anger and words unrestrained, an inaccurate understanding or perception of true womanhood (possibly due to porn addiction), or they are an abuser (emotional or even physical- physical abusers often keep their victims captive by telling them that they are so ugly no one else would want them; and the women who believe them stay…called the “battered woman syndrome”…if you fall into this category, please seek help).

    So again, if someone HAS put you down or called you anything less than beautiful- it is THEIR ISSUE.  Not Yours.  Even if you have gained a lot of weight recently and haven’t been motivated to live healthy, NO ONE should cut you down for your appearance. If anything, they should love you, support you, and honestly seek to help you find the barriers blocking you from healthy living (sometimes barriers can be psychological-such as depression and anxiety). So I would encourage you to REJECT those sentiments and REJECT that negativity.  If you assume or believe you aren’t beautiful because you don’t measure up to the media’s ideal- recognize the ideal doesn’t even exist. It’s a photoshopped illusion.  And skinny isn’t always healthy.  Anorexia and Bulimia are a real struggle for some and can result in severely chronic health problems.  So please please know… that REAL beauty wears stretch marks and scars. REAL beauty is adorned in years of wisdom wrinkles, freckles and moles.  REAL beauty comes in white hair as well as brown, red and blonde.  REAL beauty walks and sometimes REAL beauty rides in a wheelchair. REAL beauty is the REAL you.  Because YOU are the ONLY YOU, and THAT is beautiful!

    You are Invaluable!

    And speaking of being the ONLY YOU… Did you know you are literally ONE in an unquantifiable amount!! There has never been a you before and there will never be a you again.  Science tells us that in order for YOU to be sitting here reading this, alive, in existence, that literally:

    ONE PARTICULAR sperm (out of an average 200 million released in a single ejaculation) had to FUSE WITH with… ONE PARTICULAR egg (from a lifetime supply of approximately 2 million) DURING… ONE PARTICULAR 24-hour fertile window WITHIN… ONE PARTICULAR month in order to create a unique, extraordinary new human that is YOU! 

    And at the moment of your conception, that particular sperm nucleus was complete with a select 23 chromosomes (out of 8 billion selectable variations), and likewise that particular egg nucleus was also complete with a select 23 chromosomes (also out of 8 billion selectable variations). Together they COLLIDED, and created a merger resulting in you- a new, separate person complete with 46 total chromosomes and containing about 20,000 genes passed down to you from thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of generations!

    And housed within the merger of those generational genes: the immediate formation of a complex DNA blueprint for your unique design.  Though you began as a single cell that started to divide and duplicate itself, there was a functional order to that cell division because each cell received chemical instructions and assignment for the genesis of every organ, limb and feature that would be YOU!

    So let me say that again! In order to make you YOU– All the particular genetic and chromosomal ingredients required for your unique one-of-a-kind DNA blueprint and subsequent design had to collide within exactly the right SPERM, exactly the right EGG on exactly the right DAY at exactly the right TIME! Cheap meaningless accident??? Can’t be.

    And that’s just conception!  Due to the vulnerability of the fertilized egg and significant hurdles to overcome from implantation to major organ development and growth, only 31% of all fertilized eggs survive to birth! (60% don’t survive implantation, and 20% that do survive implantation don’t survive early organ and limb development- and are miscarried).

    If you really think about it, the fact that you are here, that you exist- is REMARKABLE!! It is UNBELIEVABLE!! Simply being human and being alive gives you natural, fundamental, intrinsic worth.  So when people ridicule you, belittle you, cheat you, and betray you- that still does not change your worth!  No matter what ANYONE has you told you across your lifetime- even if you were told multiple times by multiple people that you are worthless, a loser, an accident, or even a mistake- YOU ARE NOT! That is a lie!  Too many variables came together to make you.  Coincidence?  The laws of probability say otherwise.  You exist.  Therefore, there must be a reason. You bring something to the world that no one else can. That is why you are here; because if you really think about it, nothing currently in existence is here for worthless purposes.  The watch on your hand was designed to tell time and keep you organized.  The quilt on your bed was designed to keep you warm on cold nights.  The stove in your kitchen was designed to heat your food and cook out potentially deadly bacteria.  Likewise the trees breathe in your carbon dioxide and breathe out the very oxygen required to keep you alive.  And if those things have a purpose, how much more valuable are You??? An extremely complex human??? Nothing is random.  Nothing is an accident. And neither are you. If anyone has treated you as less than you are- they are completely blind to the miracle of your life! Adult or child, boss or parent, lover or friend. You are worth HONOR. You are worth RESPECT. You are worth VALIDATION. You are worth TIME. You are worth LOYALTY. You are worth LOVE.

    So today and every day, love yourself. Love your stretch marks and your scars! Embrace your imperfections! Soak in your personality quirks and oddities! Bask in your beauty! You are the ONLY you. That makes you remarkably phenomenal, astoundingly breath-taking, unbelievably earth-shattering, and irreplaceably priceless.

    ”Today you are you- that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is You-er than You!” -Dr. Seuss

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