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Self-Acceptance: 101

I’ve been juggling a few different topics for my first blog. After much back and forth, I’ve decided my first piece is going to be on self-esteem, self-acceptance, and eating disorder recovery. What is self-esteem? Oxford Languages states, the definition is “confidence in one's own worth or abilities”. (Press, 2023) Self-esteem can affect your entire life from the decisions you make to the occupation you choose. Self-esteem can also play a hand at your mental health. Long term poor self-esteem can lead to depression and anxiety.

What I find most interesting about self-esteem is its ability to change rapidly. When scrolling your favorite social media platform’s new feed, in a matter of minutes your opinion about your self-esteem can change. Sometimes, I find social media can help enable unrealistic expectations of my thoughts of myself. You may find yourself comparing yourself to others. My experience with expectations on myself or others normally just leads to disappointment. Your self-esteem can affect your entire life. Wouldn’t you want it to be for the better?

During my adolescent years, I struggled with body dysmorphia. I was so obsessed with how I looked, and how big I looked. It would occupy my thoughts after every meal. Just thinking about the hours I stayed stuck in my head is exhausting. Some days I avoided mirrors altogether.

Along with body dysmorphia, I used bulimia as a way to control how I looked and the intact of the amount of food I ate. I would overeat when I was feeling down, just to vomit everything back up. I found myself forcing myself to eat at family functions, because I didn’t want my family to suspect anything was wrong. That should have been my first hint that what I was doing was wrong and unhealthy, but the shameful feeling of looking bigger outweighed that feeling.

My eating disorder went on for years until it finally affected not only my mental health, but my physical health. I found myself in the emergency room with extreme discomfort in my abdomen. Due to my lack of honesty to the doctor, I left with a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It did, however, make me be become honest with myself and all the damage I’d done. Being bulimic hurt my body, from the sensitive teeth, to the constant sore throats, loss of hair, or the acid reflux for days. I still struggle with physical symptoms of bulimia even after ten years of recovery.

You read that correctly. I’ve not made myself purge in over ten years. I took control of my health instead of my weight. I started re-programming my thoughts and feelings about myself. I even managed to re-program my relationship with food.

I’m not saying through this past decade, I didn’t feel low self-esteem. Motherhood is such a beautiful process, but I can’t honestly say it made me love my body afterwards. I had to make me love myself afterwards, and accept every inch of my body. Luckily, I had some tips from my eating disorder recovery that I found very helpful in reclaiming my love for self.

The first tip I would suggest when it comes to self-acceptance, is one I learned from a wonderful therapist. His suggestion was to write 5 things I like about myself on post-it notes. Place them in the mirror you use most, and for 21 days read each aloud to self. If you can’t think of 5 things you like about yourself, write 5 things you would want to like about yourself. In my experience, I noticed after 14 days, I was actually starting to believe what I was saying to myself. After 21 days, I was starting to feel what I was actually saying. I started to appreciate the person looking back at me in the mirror.

The second suggestion to better help the way you feel about yourself is to brush your teeth with your non-dominate hand. While scrubbing, tell yourself ten times that you love yourself just as you are. Using your non-dominate hand taps into your subconscious mind and leads to neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity involves functional changes to the brain. (Puderbaugh & Emmady, 2023)

Another helpful tip is to practice mindfulness and gratitude. I find being mindful keeps me present. It helps me to focus on the here and now. I can focus on the things that actual matter, such as my children, my home, or my work. I’m not using my energy to worry about my self-image or appearances. I find keeping a gratitude journal helps keep me grounded and worry free.

Lastly, give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments. All your accomplishments, big or small, because celebrating your wins will help you better identify your strengths. Knowing your personal strengths can excel your professional and personal life.

I think the most incredible thing to remember is that we are all born different and special in our own ways. There is not another me on this planet. How powerful is that? Try embracing how unique you are. Let go of all the things you can’t control, and just allow yourself the freedom to be whoever you want. Just make sure you love all the versions of you, even the versions that aren’t your favorite. They have gotten you to this point, so appreciate the journey with grace and love.

-Brittany Blumenshine

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This was such a beautifully honest blog. Your such an amazing person. I love that your helping others by sharing your struggles and lessons learned. I’m so proud of you!!! I love you 😘 💕

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