This Is How My Daughter Is Teaching Me To Be Kinder -- To Myself

by Jessica Hoefer-Land
Maskot / Getty

Since my childhood, I’ve battled self-worth issues. I’m told I’m my own worst enemy and if I could really see what I’ve overcome in my life, I would be much kinder to myself.

Admittedly, I find myself addicted to social media, which, in my case, only heightens my symptoms. Comparisons plague me. I’m caught in the hamster wheel. She’s thinner. She’s more beautiful. She does it all. She has it all. She’s so creative. She earns a better income. She has more influence. She’s funnier and so on….

I could blame it on my weird, dysfunctional upbringing or perhaps negative comments as I got older. It doesn’t matter because I have the ultimate say in how I feel about myself. Yet at times I feel overpowered by it.

My favorite mantra of “Actually, I can” quickly turns into “Who am I kidding?”

Now I’m 46 and I have a daughter who battles the same ailment. I know I am largely responsible for this because all her life she has seen how cruel I treat myself in terms of comments about my appearance, failures and shortcomings.

About a year ago, she decided to delete her social media accounts because she was tired of the comparison game she was finding herself caught up in. It was exactly what I was (and am) battling. However, she did something about it. She changed the narrative and took control over something that was affecting her mental health. I respect this about her in a mighty way.

Recently my step-daughter got married and it was a lovely wedding. But rather than celebrating a beautiful event when the photos came back, I immediately started criticizing myself. Keep in mind, my daughter was standing beside me, watching as I raked my appearance over the coals.

“Oh my gosh, my hair looks horrible. My boobs are practically hanging down at my waist. I’m so fat. Look how pale I am. What was I thinking when I chose that dress?”

Soon she chimed in about her own appearance, which echoed much of what I had just said. Thankfully she left out the boob portion.

My daughter watches. She observes. She contemplates. She considers. She’s taking everything in and when she sees my negativity about my body, I am, in essence, telling her that it’s OK to be negative about hers.

But then she went and got all “adulty” and offered a challenge. Any time I put myself down, she gets to put herself down.

Challenge accepted. No way would I let her get away with it. I can put myself down all day, but my daughter? I won’t have it. Funny how that works.

Quicker than NBC announcing Matt Laurer was fired, I failed the challenge.

It’s been one of my hardest yet. How do I reset my thinking when my past 40 years are filled with self-deprecation? There aren’t enough juice cleanses in the world to get rid of that toxic BS.

I hate living in the present. I hate positive self-talk. I hate trying to maintain a prayer life, I hate revamping my thought processes. Its hard and it requires something of me because I’m lazy when it comes to self-care. But this is what I’m finding necessary in order to protect myself from burrowing further into my cocoon of worthlessness. I’m struggling, but I am trying to engage my filter before I speak negatively and I’m learning to treat myself with a little more compassion.

Maybe it will take another 40 years to peel away the layers of ugly self-worth, but who cares? Every layer peeled means I’m closer to revealing who I was meant to be.