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Self-reliance and self-worth.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I grew up in a family with 5 children, and my older sister had some major emotional issues. Being the second child, and being fairly strong-willed, I was often set aside by my parents so they could deal either with my sister throwing a tantrum or running away, or one of my younger brothers who were just little and needed more care at the time.

So I learned very early to be self-reliant. To depend on myself, solve my own problems, and care about my opinion of what I was doing, not what anyone else thought.

I was a chubby kid, but I was born cheerful and friendly - so when I was teased (very occasionally), I never seemed to care and thus I was never bullied. I had many friends, I was studious and teachers loved me, I was artistic and drew all over anything in sight (the only thing I ever got into trouble for was drawing all over the cover of my workbook). I was an introvert, but I also managed to get along with just about everybody.

Over the years, I developed the attitude that I was normal - not that I was perfect or better than anyone, just that I was normal - and so that meant that whatever I was feeling was therefore normal. And that meant I allowed myself to feel whatever I was feeling. I think this is a HUGE part of self-reliance - letting yourself feel sad when you are sad. Or lonely when you are lonely. Or depressed. Or happy and elated. Because these are all part of human life and interaction - they are NORMAL. Therefore, there is no need to suppress these feelings - let them happen, work through them, they will go away, you can move on.

And, with feeling normal and average (yeah, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not exactly average, but my normal is kind of ditzy and bright, like Gracie Allen, so I tend to forget that this isn't everyone else's normal and therefore I truly do think I'm fairly average) - anyway, feeling normal and average means my opinions count MOST - FOR ME. What someone else thinks of me isn't really my business. I don't care if someone else likes my hair, or my clothes, or my job, or my car. I LIKE my hair, my clothes, love my job, love my car. I don't need anyone else's approval. Because I already have my own approval. I rely on my own good judgment to tell me whether I'm doing something in MY way, whether or not I'm good enough. (And no, I also don't need daily affirmations, LOL - I'm not an SNL skit.)

Even 40 lbs ago (my pre-Spark life), I still felt like ME, a good person, a caring person, smart, funny, interested, involved, busy, competent. My self-worth isn't and wasn't contingent on my size. I certainly have more energy now, having lost 40 or so lbs. I definitely look better in smaller clothes. But I didn't hate myself for having gained 40 lbs when I tore out my knee and was in a leg brace for months. I didn't hate myself for getting up to size 20 or 22. Nor do I hate myself for plateauing at size 16 for a few years. Because I KNOW that I'm still ME, a good, caring, smart, funny, interested, involved, busy, competent person.

And all those years of no significant other - no honey, no sweetie, no boyfriend, no husband - well, it was lonely, but it was also okay. I have never measured my self-worth based on having a man in my life. I'd smile and tell people that I was "between men" - just like sometimes we're between jobs. Because to me, being single meant I could continue to do what I wanted, when I wanted - I could pick up and travel for a summer if I had the money and inclination. I could read in bed all Sunday if I wanted. I still had a group of friends to hang out with, to go to movies or dinner or celebrate events and holidays. And if it meant I'd have a potluck Thanksgiving in a studio apartment, well, I called every unattached person I knew and hosted a potluck dinner for 15 people on my tiny porch.

Once - just ONCE - a roommate (who really wasn't much of a friend) told me I was arrogant. Just once. No one else. I personally think it had more to do with her own insecurities than my truly being arrogant, but who knows.

So - to all of my Sparkie friends and friends-to-be - you are here, on Spark People. You are trying to make yourself the best possible you that there is. You have good judgment. You are smart. You are creative. You are friendly. You are warm, and caring, and loving. So value that within you. You don't need everyone to love you, you don't need everyone or anyone else's approval - as long as you approve of YOURSELF, deep inside, you will be all right. Truly. BELIEVE in yourself.

You can do this!!!!!!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thankyou for the blog. Sometimes I get so frustrated trying to please others that I forget its ok to please myself.
    2258 days ago
    Thank you for your blog, it really makes me think about how in the past I allowed what people thought about me and my work to colour my self image. Since my husband's death in 2005 I've become much stronger, much more independant and self-reliant. I try and do as much as I physically can by myself. I'm proud of what I've managed to do on my own and my development as an independant person. I am between men and amongst men. I have my Erik (victim of a TBI and motorcycle accident and my 3 other sons and son-in-law) One day God willing I'll find a new man, but I will not live under his him, I will walk along side of him. Thanks again.
    emoticon emoticon
    2258 days ago
  • NUMD97
    You're very welcome, Phebess. Just the truth.
    2259 days ago
    Thank you, Numd!!!
    2259 days ago
  • NUMD97
    This has got to be one of the best blogs I have ever read on SP. Just what you encapsulated here, is what the majority strive for: You are completely comfortable in your own skin, and truly know who and what you are, and what you stand for. So many on here are still struggling to find out why they are the way they are, and some of their reasons often give me pause: Some have experienced rape, abandonment by parents (read two of those), and other assorted really bad life experiences. Thankfully, I can say I am clueless about those. But I could see how that alone could mess with your head.

    Weight is truly a manifestation of other issues, it is rarely the cause in and of itself.

    Having a sense of self-worth and knowing where you fit in the world that you live in, is such an amazing accomplishment. I should just refer others to this blog. It is outstanding!

    Thanks for posting,

    2259 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/18/2012 4:54:06 PM
    Steve Siebold ( says that the addiction to the approval of others is the most dangerous addiction of all . . . and results in obesity. You can bet I think you're right about your non-arrogant self-confidence!!

    And: thanks for your kind comment on my "best dressed" blog . . it's about the attitude (and the exercised bod) WAAAAY more than about spending $$$$ on clothes, for sure!
    2260 days ago
    Hi, new Myrna! Glad to meet you! (Sapna is also a Myrna.)

    Trust me, I've skipped over traumas and losses - I was responding to a Sparkfriend's blog about learning to not focus on what others think of her - and somehow my reply turned into my whole blog.

    2261 days ago
    Thank you for such a transparent blog. It has inspired me because I have lived a somewhat similar life to yours with a few more losses than you have have had. I am going to do some more reflecting on what I have found as normal in my life. Thank you for the insight. I am going to add you as a friend. emoticon
    2261 days ago
    Thank you, Tara.

    I think that I'm proud to be myself. On the other hand, I don't think I'm better than anyone else.

    So no, I wouldn't call myself arrogant.
    2261 days ago
    Wow, Phebe. This is really thoughtful. Thanks for sharing. BTW- I don't think you have an ounce of arrogance in you.
    2261 days ago
  • SAPNA.
    Thank you.
    2261 days ago
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