How I Freed Myself from Society’s Toxic Messages and Learned to Love Myself
“Um…so how do you do this emotional processing thing?”
I asked this question at 23 years old because I had never really heard of “emotional processing” until then. The way I dealt with my feelings were to repress them. It had been my way of coping with what had happened to me. It was how I had protected myself from all the pain and hurt that would explode inside if I let it out. It was how I silenced the swirling messages inside telling me I wasn’t enough.
But now that I was older, I was starting to recognize that it wasn’t healthy and that it was creating serious problems in my life. I couldn’t tell when things were getting toxic for me. I didn’t have any red flags going up that said “Bad situation! Do something different or get out!” I just soldiered on.
Thankfully, I had a few people around me who saw and told me that I didn’t just have to continue and that I could pause, feel, and process. I had no idea how. No one had ever talked about it with me. No one had ever modeled it for me. So I was told how to emotionally process – to think about what’s upsetting and open up to the thoughts and physical sensations without trying to change them, judge them, or make them go away and to just be with them until they flowed out of me.
I went home that night and tried it out.
And it worked. I wasn’t destroyed inside because I had opened up the emotional dams. I actually felt lighter and had greater clarity about what was important to me. I had never experienced anything like that in my entire life and I knew I had to continue.
Fast forward: I had engaged in a deep healing and personal transformation process to deal with the different traumatic experiences I had had. And I had come out the other side so much stronger, emotionally healthy, and loving toward myself and others.
When I began it, I didn’t believe I had a right to be happy or that I was lovable. When I would tell myself that I deserved to be happy, I would cry, not believing it was possible. Now, it seems absolutely absurd to me to think that’s true. Of course I’m lovable! Of course I can be happy! I rock!
And then an interesting thing started happening. Since I had worked with survivors of violence and abuse, people – friends and even strangers – would open up and tell me how they struggle with feeling like they’re not good enough because of what had happened to them, which was often some sort of violence and intimidation. I would share what tools had helped me and they would almost always really resonate with that person. They too would tell me that they had never heard of “emotional processing” and other healing tools I used. They too had just bottled it all up inside. But all they needed was to know that I was a safe person to talk to. Complete strangers would tell me I was the first person with whom they were sharing that they were a survivor. And for them to see me and know that they were not alone and that I had been where they were was so important. I showed them that it can get better – not that it’s easy but that it is possible.
But they also told me that most of them would never talk to anyone else about it. They were too ashamed, embarrassed, or unsure of how others would react. Ironically, a number of them knew each other but just didn't know that they were all going through something similar. These conversations after conversations that I kept having with people was a large reason why I founded Everyday Feminism. I wanted needed to create an online space for people to have these very same conversations with others who wouldn’t do any of the typical victim-blaming, slut-shaming, sexist and racist assumptions, etc. We needed a space to better understand why we hated ourselves (we were taught to!) and how to free ourselves from those toxic messages so we could love ourselves and stand up for ourselves.
So it only made sense that the first online courses we offered at Everyday Feminism were on self-love and body acceptance. I created and lead the Everyday Self-Love: Turning Self-Love Into A Daily Habit course. I’ve synthesized and distilled my years of hard-earned experience into a 90-day online course with a simple, clear process so you can learn how to practice daily self-love more quickly, more easily, with a whole community of other feminists alongside you.
Golda Porestky, founder of Body Love Wellness and body image coach, created and leads the Fall Into Body Love: Begin the Journey To Loving Your Body course. Based on her own personal journey for body acceptance and her professional experience helping others achieve it too, she brings her most powerful techniques to becoming more comfortable with your body – no matter what size or shape it is. Both of us know that learning to love ourselves for who we are isn’t easy. In this world that tells us constantly that we’re too girly, too fat, too ugly, too hysterical, too white, too black, too gay, too whatever, it’s actually really, really hard.
But it’s also really, really possible.
Through Everyday Feminism and our online courses, I wanted to make it easier for people to get the ideas, tools, and support we all need to free ourselves from society’s toxic messages and live our truth. It’s not just vital for our own well-being. Like Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Remember, you are not alone and it can get better. You deserve to love yourself – no matter what anyone else says, especially patriarchy.
Sandra Kim is the Founder & Executive Director of Everyday Feminism, which helps people apply feminism to their real lives through their online magazine, courses, podcasts, forum, and more. She brings together her personal and professional experience with trauma, personal transformation, and social change and gives it all a feminist twist.
***Course registration ends on Friday, September 13th and courses start that following Monday. So don’t wait to enroll! Click here to learn more.
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