Choosing to Love Myself | Lauren Brimley
Tell us a little about yourself, and some of your experiences with this topic.
Hi, I'm Lauren Brimley and I have been married to my husband for going on 8 years, and we have two beautiful children; a daughter named Zoey and a son named Desmond. I am currently getting my BA at Arizona State University in Health and Wellness, something that I enjoy and am very passionate about! I love being active, being outdoors, cooking, and I'm always reading a book. I spent a large part of my life struggling with distorted body image, and the self hatred I felt for myself bled into almost all aspects of my life. It was debilitating at times, and I knew something had to change. I sought out counseling, took charge of my life and made it my mission to stop the negative feelings towards my body. It has taken years but I am finally at a place in my life where I am at peace with my body. I promised myself I would never, ever let my children hear me say anything negative about myself, and while it can hard sometimes, I am happy that I can say I have accomplished that.
Why are you so passionate about this topic?
Whenever my house is messy I am stressed out and I don't feel comfortable in my home. I can't relax and I hate that. Our bodies are the same way! We live in our bodies and if all we feel inside is negativity and hatred, how are we supposed to thrive and live our best life? When I was going through the darkest points of self-hatred I remember just feeling an overwhelming heaviness. I went through the motions of living, but I wasn't actually living. I wouldn't wish those same feelings on anyone, and it would crush me if my children felt that way about themselves. I am so passionate of self-love because I want my children to always see their own beauty, and know what it is about themselves that makes them wonderful. I want them to live their best life.
What motivated you to change/how did you begin the journey to loving yourself?
I have never shared this, but I feel it's important to do so. I remember laying on my bed, mentally listing everything it was about myself that I hated, and just sobbing. I was trying to come up with a reason why I should even be alive, and I couldn't. I felt worthless and like there wasn't anything left living for. I then remembered that on my wedding day the person that had officiated promised that we had children waiting for us, and they were ready when we were. I knew at that moment that I wasn't ready to have children, not even close. But I knew if I wanted to, I needed to get my act together and get help. The next day I swallowed my pride and called a therapist. Like I said before, it took years to get where I am today, but that was the first day of a really long and hard journey.
We all know that God’s love is what matters most. How do you take the love he has for you, truly accept it, and let His light shine through your countenance?
You have to trust in Him. You have to let go and just know that He has a plan for us, and while the trial might be almost too much to bear, He will be there to guide you through it. There were times where I truly struggled with knowing if God cared for me, but I never gave up on Him, and I know He never gave up on me. I believe the best thing we can do when we are hurting is to give as much love as we can to others. Through our love for others, our light will shine.
How do you filter out all the noise of media telling you to be a certain way?
It can be really rough, and sometimes I fail and feel pretty bad about myself. But then my daughter will come over to me, tell me she thinks I "look like a beautiful magical princess fairy" and it's a major reality check. I might not be what the media perceives as ideal, but I am beautiful to those that love me because of the person that I am, and that is enough for me. Remember who loves you, and why they love you.
Are there things you do every day to promote a positive body image or love yourself more?
Daily exercise is key for me. Whether that be walking my children around the neighborhood, going on a long run, pilates, yoga or lifting weights. I used to view exercise as a form of punishment for my body, because my body wasn't good enough. I now view it as a way to take care of my body because I love it and appreciate it. When I ran my first half marathon, it was almost like a spiritual experience for me. I ran it alone, and every mile I ran felt like a major victory. As I crossed the finish line I sobbed because I was so happy. My strong, beautiful body was able to accomplish something I never thought possible. In addition to exercise, proper nutrition is so important to me. I find when I eat well I feel well mentally and physically. When I feel my body with junk, that's when the negative self-talk tries to creep back in.
What has been the most powerful thing you’ve done to change your perspective to love yourself more?
My children. I look at them and my heart wants to burst with the love that I have for them. And my body made them. How can I hate my body when I was a part of that miracle?
How do you make sure you’re living a healthy lifestyle without beating yourself down in the process?
I give myself grace. If I had a hard day, and I really want to sit and watch Netflix and eat a brownie, I do just that. I know that the next day I will be exercising and eating nutritious meals. A lot of people believe that to live a healthy lifestyle they need to cut out food groups, never treat themselves and live in misery. That is absolutely untrue. Live a healthful life, and occasionally eat dessert or pizza. Life is too short to not eat pizza and chocolate!
How do you teach your children/other men and women to love themselves?
While we tell our children that they are beautiful or handsome, we make a greater effort to compliment them in different and more important ways. We will tell them that they are so imaginative, creative, smart, kind, funny, or a great friend. We want them to know what it is about themselves that makes them amazing, and to not have their self worth invested in their appearance. By recognizing what makes us unique and special, it is easier for us to love who we are.
We all have days when self confidence is low, what do you do to keep those emotions at bay?
I tell myself I will allow myself to wallow in self pity for just one night, and the next day I will get over it and move on. It's impossible for me to feel 100% great about myself all the time, so instead of fighting it, I just recognize it as a bad night, and deal with it.
How do you make sure you aren’t comparing yourself to others?
This is one of the hardest things for me. Comparison is inevitable, especially in our world of social media, so when feelings of comparison come, I walk away. I put down the phone, or close the computer and go about my day. And as I am going about my day I remind myself of why it's great to be me.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
While it's extremely important to be kind to others, try to remember to kind to yourself too. God only created one you, and you are amazing!
Lauren Brimley is a health and wellness student, mom to 2, and inspirational Instagrammer who posts about real foods, real workouts, and real life. You can find her over on Instagram @laurenbhealth. If you don't already follow—her you are going to fall in love with her recipes, her real talk and her awesomeness!