Talk to yourself as you would your best friend.
This type of self-compassion advice is quite common these days. And I agree this helps. But what about talking to yourself like you would as the older version of you – the wiser, more experienced woman that you will inevitably become?
Caption: Source: Vogue Magazine
This idea became top of mind for me recently after reading a letter that Victoria Beckham wrote to her 18-year-old self. You can see the letter in the latest issue of Vogue.
The letter was quite eye-opening and Victoria exposed many details about her personal insecurities (even admitting to getting breast implants). I found these confessions surprising, as Victoria’s public image exudes confidence. She IS Posh Spice, after all. You don’t fall into a name like that by simply being average or having low self-esteem. She’s the epitome of cool style, the wife of a star soccer player/underwear model (take your pick), founder of her own fashion and makeup line, former pop superstar, current humanitarian, and mother of four kids. On paper she lives a charmed life. The ultimate modern day celebrity.
It’s easy to assume that because of where she is now that she’s immune to many of the things we “regular people” deal with – like insecurity, self-criticism, anxiety, etc.. But Victoria paints a much different picture of her life. And when she pulls back the cool, power woman exterior, you realize that she struggles with the very same things that plague all of us as women.
She was bullied in grade school. She criticized herself for not being thin enough, pretty enough, or talented enough. And even as a Spice Girl, when she was traveling the world and selling millions of records, she still found it hard to remember to be grateful for her good fortune.
I think we can all relate. We nitpick our flaws. We beat ourselves down when we make mistakes. And we often forget to appreciate all the good that already surrounds us in our quest to create a more perfect life.
Hindsight is 20/20
Yet now in her 40s, Victoria has perspective that her younger self didn’t have. And in her words, “Nothing will be perfect, but it is only now that I have learnt to appreciate all I have and all I have been blessed with. I am happy.”
Through her message to her younger self, she reminds us that we should be kind to ourselves. That we should take chances and follow our intuition. And that we should celebrate our bodies- including such candid lessons as:
“Never let that hairdresser wax your eyebrows. The effects last forever.”
And, “I should probably say, don’t mess with your boobs. All those years I denied it – stupid. A sign of insecurity. Just celebrate what you’ve got.”
This last confession is particularly interesting because she has dodged rumors for years that her breasts were not natural. She now joins the ranks of many other celebrities who’ve decided to remove their breast implants.
It’s Never Perfect
But with all that said, Victoria confesses that she’s still not immune to criticism – even in her older age (she’s not perfect, remember). “We women are very tough on ourselves,” she writes. She acknowledges that her self-compassion journey is still a work in progress. And she’s still learning how to be less hard on herself and to let go of self-criticism.
But the difference now is that when she is tough on herself, she’s able to approach her problems with newfound wisdom. She can look back on her previous struggles and see that she has always persevered. And that often times things just aren’t as bad as they once seemed. She wrote, “My 60-year-old self would probably say the same thing to me as I am telling you now: enjoy yourself a little more. Be less image-conscious. Learn to relax. You are going to make mistakes – of course you are.”
So let this be a lesson to us. Regardless of where we are in life, we are going to continue to face situations that make us second guess our worth. You can cower and hide, or you can look back on what you’ve already achieved so far (whether it’s related to career, personal confidence, relationships – whatever) and know that you’ll persevere. Life will never be perfect. While it may not be playground bullies and mean girls, there will always be something. But rather than wishing that your situation was different or criticizing yourself, celebrate what you have now.
Remember, you can still strive to be a better version of yourself without relying on self-criticism as the motivator. So choose kindness. And let your previous experiences be a source of faith in yourself. Treat yourself as you would a dear friend. Or even better – as the younger version of yourself who just needs a little perspective.
What was your reaction to the letter? Would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below.
Marissa Hastings is the founder of YourBreastSelf.com, a site that provides style and body-love advice for small-breasted women. It’s part of her larger mission to create a social movement that empowers women with breast insecurities and reshapes the conversation around body image and breast size. Connect with @YourBreastSelf on Instagram and Facebook to support the movement.