Unstoppable

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On December 31st, the sun will go down, and when it rises we will all begin a new year. We are the ones who attach meaning to that - I don't think the sun can tell a difference.

"Next year I will _______."

We all have numerous ways to fill in that blank, behaviors we want to change and addictions we want to curb.  It's like a fresh start, complete with a closet purge and resolution to "lose ten pounds." 

I used to wonder why my resolutions never stuck. Not for more than a few weeks, anyway. Before I knew it, I'd have a drawer of new workout clothes that became lounge wear and a pantry full of "healthy food" that I’d replaced with takeout. 

Throughout this journey of building a business the only reliable truth I've come to count on is that change is hard. And here's the hardest part: Changing behavior does not work without changing your belief system first.

Beliefs about ourselves are weird, aren't they? Usually they're so close to us that we don't even realize they're there - let alone that they could ever change. They burrow little pathways in our brains and the longer we believe them, the harder they become to challenge. The past couple years have held a lot of belief challenging for me. It's been difficult, but now I can appreciate it.

So what do you believe about yourself?

You don’t even have to tell me. The answer is in your behavior, your actions. I mean, if my husband asked me what I believed about his value as a person and I said something really nice but then I never spent time with him, listened to him, or helped him when he needed it, he certainly wouldn't believe me.

So what do your ACTIONS say you believe about yourself?

I once believed that a woman's goal should be to take up as little physical space as possible. Sure, I never uttered those words, but the way I constantly obsessed over my weight and heaped on guilt when my pants were too tight proved that was my belief. 

Ugh. No wonder I was miserable.

I write about body image so much because I photograph women. We are obsessed with our bodies! It's intense. I struggle with it too. We say things like, "Well, I just want to get healthy!!" But you know what is the most unhealthy belief? The belief that you're not ENOUGH exactly as you are. Right now. (And if we talked even half as much about mental health as we do about physical health... don't get me started.) Good luck changing your eating, exercising, drinking, TV watching, or any habit if you hold a foundational belief that who you are is worthy of your own hatred and dissatisfaction. 

You know, it's like photographing children.

I get warned by mom ahead of time, and apologized to in advance. But when the kids show up at the shoot, I treat them as though they will behave perfectly. I trust them, I encourage them, and I affirm their good behaviors. If a tantrum happens, I stay calm. And you know what? They always rise to the occasion. And what happens when I make them feel valued and important? They become their best selves.

And what happens when you treat yourself like that? You become unstoppable. When you treat your mental health like it's important and stop feeling guilty for not "being okay," you get help. When you treat your body with respect and view physical activity and food as a privilege, the guilt disappears. When you can look in the mirror and say, “Even if I make zero dollars, friends, efforts, or home cooked meals today, I am enough. I am valuable,” you stop trying to prove yourself and you start living.

If nothing else, I hope I LIVE in 2019. I'm done not being good enough for myself or anyone else. And I know that if I live, I will shine because I will offer what only I can give to the world. Whether I'm wearing sweat pants or a pants suit, I'll expect the best for myself. I’ll expect the best for you too.

-Mitzi

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