With today being World Mental Health Day I wanted to share my experience with a lived experience and how learning more about my body helped me to step out of this space and into one where I feel pretty damn good about myself. (most days😊).
I quite like who I am. I truly do. It took a while for me to get to this stage.
A stage now where I recognise and acknowledge all the different parts that add up to the whole me. It hasn’t always been this way. I have personally struggled from low self-esteem throughout my life.
As a young person I remember playing my favourite sport, hockey, in the highest grade at 15 years old. I would play the hardest and best I could, but if I had an off day and missed a few traps, gave away possession too easy, or missed an ‘easy’ tackle, I would spend the rest of the week pleading with my coach to drop me from the side.
I would cry and become very dark.
Alternatively, if I had a great game and rarely made a mistake, I was full of life and happy.
I was always trying to make others happy…so they would like me.
From a young age I felt like I was the ugly one, the dumb one, and the fattest one in my group of friends. So, I would compensate and be the ‘funny’ one. The one that would always put myself down in a way that would make others laugh. It felt great to have people smile and want you around.
What I found, was the more I would do this, the more I gave others permission to join in (even if they really liked me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings). I found myself having conversations where others would say to me….’Don’t take this the wrong way but I thought I was going to be the popular one….’ or ‘You’ll do ok Shaz, but you will never be really successful like (insert a friends name here).’
And I believed them.
It got to a stage where I didn’t want to do this anymore. I met someone and we travelled to the UK together and I began to study natural therapies. I began to grow and develop as a person and started to like who I was.
One of our lecturers came in to talk about women’s cycles and the essential oils that you can use to help different conditions. She recommended a few books to read to learn more. As a young aromatherapist, massage therapist and herbalism student I became fascinated with women’s cycles. I began to read more and the more I read, the more I discovered. I started to chart aspects I noticed about me. I saw through this process I recognised features about me I liked.
I discovered that we as women go through 4 distinct phases each month. These phases impact everything about us. Our energy levels, our moods and emotions and our physical health. But where we are in our cycle also impacts the relationships we have with others, how we interact….EVEN the clothing we wear and hair and makeup we use.
This research took me to discover more about our self-esteem, and how it is impacted by so many external influences – what we see on social media, negative comments from peers, society’s extreme beauty standards and the relationships we have with our friends, parents, siblings and teachers.
However, many researchers agree the way we feel about our bodies could actually be rooted below the surface – a product of our hormones at work.
One study showed the link between body image dissatisfaction and phases of the menstrual cycle. This study described it as ‘the negative evaluation of body image, when an individual’s beliefs about her own actual body size and/or shape does not match how the attributes are judged by others’ (Kaczmarek et al, 2015). Put simply, you are seeing yourself completely differently to how others see you.
Kaczmarek’s study is just one of many that has showed a link between our menstrual cycle and the way we feel about our bodies. The likelihood of feeling dissatisfied with what we see in the mirror is a whopping 2.4 times higher for girls at their premenstrual phase, compared to their peers in the menstrual phase.
Another study measured self-esteem across the menstrual cycle to test the prediction that self-esteem can be impacted dependant on where the woman was in her menstrual cycle. This study found that self-esteem fluctuated and impacted on relationships with others throughout the women’s cycle.
Personally, I saw the difference this process was making in me. Understanding my cycle gave me a better way to work with myself and boost my mental health.
I am determined to do my part in providing other young women with tools to become more confident and self-assured individuals. From a woman suffering from low self-esteem constantly, over time I have developed a self-respect and self-love that continues to grow each day.
I enjoy sitting quietly and journaling, thinking deeply about how I truly feel inside.
I have positive qualities that I continue to focus on.
I now really do love the person I am. I am not perfect and I love that too. For all the things that may not be strengths about me, I have many more attributes that shine out each and every day.
This is why I developed Emgoddess, the book, oils and workshop, so women everywhere could learn this for themselves.
Emgoddess gives you the tools to track and identify where you are in your cycle and helps you to create ways to embrace and embody the energies of that phase, have a more positive relationship with your body and look at your cycle as the gift it really is.
The Emgoddess model focuses on establishing global understanding that can bring joy to life and boost self-esteem for every woman. It touches women from all walks and stages of life, from the young woman who is just discovering her cycle to women who have been cycling for years with no real connection.
The truth is that I still have my good and bad days with self-esteem issues. But when I feel a little lost, I get back to my charting and almost instantly feel better about myself.
I hope this can help you fall back in love…with you.