When We Don't Feel Pretty Enough

02/12/2016 05:02 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2017

In our Facebook-filtered, Pinterest-perfect feeds, it is extremely easy to feel like we are not good enough, pretty enough, successful enough, or simply "enough" as human beings. Even though in our unconscious, we might know that people only share the good that they have going on, it is still extremely easy to feel vulnerable, less worthy, less pretty, and just discouraged in your own life trekking your own path (because that's what we're supposed to do, right?). Friends, if this is you sometimes (and side note, this is all of us sometimes), you are not alone. What can we do about this type of thinking? Here are few ways to think about this negative spiral of thinking and strategies to work through them.

First, we need to be curious about and challenge the labels all around us. For example, what do we think about the concepts of beauty, happiness, success, and even motherhood. What do these labels mean to us (and as a culture) and how does this play into our internalized definitions? For many of us, we have unidimensional meanings that play into our self-talk and we feel bad (continuously) when we do not meet our simple definitions. Beauty does not just have to mean one type of "pretty," success does not just have to mean earning money, being a mother does not just mean we are always patient and helpful with a million craft ideas. We need to broaden our definitions of these constructs and be curious how we can fit into these wider and more flexible understandings.

Second, we should not wait on our weight. For many women, we directly evaluate our self-worth according to our body size and shape, and when we don't look the way we would like, we put off things and opportunities that would potentially bring us joy. For example, we may not be as visible in our business as we would like because we don't feel confident in who we are (and this is tied to our negative body image), we may put off shopping for new clothes because we are waiting until we lose the "extra weight" or feel better about our physical appearance (which doesn't always happen), or we may notice ourselves being absent from pictures that we so quickly take with our ever-present iPhones. We are waiting until we look 'good enough,' and this absence is a way to be hidden and invisible to the world (and ourselves) until then. These are just some of the patterns that we participate in every single day that contributes to chronically disempowerment of ourselves.

Related to this idea of waiting, we may also have the type of 'chasing happiness' thinking that keeps us in a cycle of 'when we reach x, we will be happy', which of course is either based on our unidimensional definition or never really happens because there is something deeper causing our internal angst and body dissatisfaction. We need to remember to give ourselves permission to live, love, and operate in the present even if we are working on future goals. We are worthy as we are, today, in the body that we currently have.

Third, we need to think about what true self-care means. For a lot of individuals, we associate 'good' self-care with outcomes, such as massages, pedicures, or long baths. For most of us moms, we just don't have this type of time and these outcomes are pretty much unrealistic. There are other ways to integrate self-care into our daily routine, including the consistent way we treat ourselves in thoughts, sentiments, and actions. Do we have grace and forgiveness weaved into our day (even if we haven't made some type of deadline or lost the weight we wanted or we used our MomHulk voice several times by 7:00 a.m.)? Do we give ourselves permission to eat a whole meal, or do we just pick leftovers off our kids plates (or as we prepare their meals) or try to pick the smallest plate to eat off of, which then just sets us up for eating more because we naturally want more from the intentional restriction mentality? Do we honor our hunger and give ourselves time and space to eat like we deserve to? THESE are the things that make up self-care every single day, specifically the way we think about, act toward, and treat ourselves.

To all the hard-working mamas out there, to the ones that give everything and expect nothing, to the ones that are exhausted from getting up all night, to the ones working multiple jobs to provide for their families, please give yourself permission today to do what you need to do to take care of yourself, because you deserve it. You are pretty enough, you are good enough, and you are enough in who you are, today.

If you are fellow mom who feels like this message is close to your heart, please consider signing up for my free Encouragement Notes. I share weekly e-mails with you encouraging you on your journey in motherhood, and talk about the things that impact us every single day, including self-acceptance, grace, loving the body we are in, and being kind to ourselves while we navigate the daily joy and chaos!