There’s this huge sign I pass at least a few times every week. I know most pass it quickly, gather the information, and keep driving. Some probably don’t even see it in the field. Well, this thinker likes to take a concept and twist it around. The sign is an advertisement for a recovery group at a local church. I’m sure if you have driven from Falcon to Colorado Springs on 24, you have seen it.
See, I might not be recovering from drugs or alcohol, although I did have some sketchy years in my youth, my problem is much more pervasive. It is not something I can just turn around and walk away from. It is a voice inside of me. You probably have that same voice. You know which one. The one that tells you “You will never be good enough”, “You aren’t pretty enough”, “No one will love you.” Yea, that one.
My name is Shannon, and I am a recovering self-hater. No, there aren’t any support groups. There is no complete cure. The only way to drag yourself out is through hard work and accepting that you are on this planet for a reason. Girl, own that fabulousness! Ya know that one girl in your group who is the negative nelly or thinks she is much more amazing than she really is. Well, be kind, her self-hate voice is probably even louder than yours. Can you even believe someone else’s is louder?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if there WAS a support group? A group where instead of tearing one another down, we celebrated the small successes together. Your success may be just getting out of bed today or it may be making a huge life choice. I have no idea how you would actually acknowledge success because it is on going and no one’s journey is the same.
I know you are wondering, “How do I go from a hater to recovery?” For me, I was in therapy for a few years to deal with past issues. After I was done, I decided I would live outside of my comfort zone. On a daily basis I challenge my weaknesses to become a better person and let me tell you, some of them are very stubborn. I live so much in my head that I work really hard on analyzing my thoughts. When I have a negative emotion, I ask myself “what just happened to cause it?”, “why was that my reaction?”, and “is it truth?” I know that sounds tedious, but it’s a muscle just like any other. The more you flex it, the quicker and easier the process gets. Promise! It will be life-changing.
One of the biggest areas that self-hate voice likes to be loud in, is our appearance. I use to be that person who shrunk away from pictures, especially after the havoc four children had on my body. I began to force myself to be in front of the camera. I would play around when no one was home and deleted 99% of them. I would yell at my arms for being too big. I would tell my stomach it needed to be smaller. The more I learned about lighting and posing, the more I liked what I saw. I will never be the tall willowy model, there is no delusion there. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not just as awesome. The more selfies I took, the more I saw that I was truly beautiful. I began to see myself as others saw me, not that nagging voice.
This experience/revelation is why I have chosen to photograph women. I want that self-hate voice to be quieted for a moment so each woman can see how beautiful they are. Don’t you deserve to see yourself as others do? Wouldn’t it be amazing to hang a photograph on the wall and every time you passed say, “Damn! That is ME! ME! I’m so incredible!”
As the man says, “Photography is easier than therapy.”