Monday, October 24, 2016

5 Books to Aid Your Journey to Self Love

What makes a girl lose confidence in herself? 

A dear friend and reader asked me the other day... like I would know the answer.

But I really don't think there is one, universal answer. We can talk all day about my triggers; about what makes me lose confidence, acquire anxiety, and gain the feeling of utmost inadequacy... But the same things that make me feel lost, weary, and prone to failure might not have any effect on you at all.

Likewise, there probably isn't one, universal answer to gain confidence in yourself, either. Sure, I have my own self-love regimen (check it out in Bethany's Guide to Self Love), but when I first began seeking supplemental material to aid me on my warrior journey to confidence, beauty, and self love, I didn't have the slightest idea where to look. So... I entered the place I feel most comfortable; the one place I can always count on to take me away from whatever's going on in my crazy life.

The bookstore.

Reading does a lot for me, much like all the other art forms I partake in. Writing is great for grounding anxiety. Music is ideal for when you don't have the words, theatrics are perfect for when you need an escape, and dance is for when you have no other means of expression.

But reading does so much more. It forms relationships even when you are alone, whether through imagination with fiction or connections with non-fiction. It helps you understand the perspective of others; it shares stories, ideas, and ways of life. It educates you on things you wouldn't otherwise understand, and it helps you learn things about yourself that you wouldn't otherwise consider.

A movie or TV show will not do the same thing. Neither will your tablet, iPod, or laptop. It is not the same.

There aren't any fun fiction novels in this list (though if you want some recommendations, I'd be happy to do that later). These are books that will make you stop, think, reflect, and ultimately grow. You'll probably find them in the self-improvement aisle of your favorite bookstore. And it is not silly, or shameful, or cliché to shop there. Just to make that clear.

Like I said, I can only speak for myself. These are the selections that I've read personally; books that aided me in my own fight toward becoming the self-love warrior that I am. I cannot promise you they'll change your life, but I can assure you that they changed mine. So you might as well give them a shot... Because we could all use a little confidence boost, and you really have nothing to lose.

by John and Stasi Eldredge 
Every girl is tired of abiding by the rules. I threw away my lists of ways to be a good, strong, beautiful, Proverbs 31 woman a long time ago. The more I read these top 10 lists, the more I realized there were way more than 10 things to do before achieving the title I wanted. Every writer thought differently, and naturally, every writer thought they knew best.

Turns out, you don't have to do anything to be beautiful woman. You already are one. And instead of focusing on all the things you have yet to do, Captivating takes its feminine readers on a journey to her past, exposing her skills, passions, traits, and gifts, as well as all the obstacles standing in her way of becoming the captivating woman she has always longed to be. Turns out, the desires of my 20 year old heart are still the same as the desires of my 2 year old heart, and there's no reason us women should buy into the lie that we will not have what we dreamed of as little girls. We should be confident. We should be strong. We should be beautiful. We should be noticed, sought after, pursued, and loved more thoroughly than we can ever imagine. But often times, the only thing standing in our way is us.

The masculine alternative, Wild at Heart, exposes the same desires, fears, and failures of a man's heart, with chapters paralleling Captivating for an in-depth study with a partner, friend, or family member. 

The 5 Love Languages 
by Gary Chapman
Those of you who have read it are probably wondering how it fits on this list. It's a relationship book; one that I first read in a Child and Family Relationship class in college. It's advertised as the "secret to love that lasts," and I actually laughed out loud when I saw the cover. Surely this isn't the one she's recommending, you'll think when you see it on the shelf. But you've got the right one. It's got the silhouette of man and a woman in front of a sunset, beachside, slow dancing after being whisked away in the moment.

For the record... I'm pretty sure the secret to love that lasts is just to be selfless enough to care for someone. But the book did help quite a bit.

We often give love to one another in the ways we would want to receive it, which are, as Chapman calls them, our "love languages." The goal of the book is to help you realize that your relationships will fail if you are giving your partner love in the ways you need to receive it, and encourages you to express love in the ways they need to receive it. Yada, yada.

I'm single, and I was when I read the book, so don't think it's inapplicable to your life. Discovering my love languages helped me better understand ways to express love for myself. My top-two love languages are quality time and acts of service. Can you guess what two things I neglected to do most for myself? You guessed it... Spend time relaxing by myself, and spoiling myself on occasion. The book can take you in depth to discover what your needs really are, but the basic quiz can be found online.

Becoming Myself 
by Stasi Eldredge 
Ever woke up one morning and wonder what on Earth you're doing? Like how did you even get here, and where on Earth is your life headed? It often happens to me when I'm becoming quickly clueless and out of control of my own plans. It happens to us most often when we feel we've hit rock bottom.

This one is another one by the female author of Captivating, but instead of exploring a woman's basic fears and dreams, it dives into God's ultimate dream and plan for you. No more aimless wandering. This one helps you hope, trust, and believe in yourself by pointing you toward the basic truths of your existence. (I would personally recommend reading Captivating first.)

Anxious for Nothing
by John MacArthur 
I was walking through the store trying to find a quick gift for a friend when I first saw the book. I laughed to myself, acknowledging how perfect it was for my anxiety ridden heart and stressed, cloudy mind. I didn't read the summary or the first page, the way I normally do before deciding on a book to read. I just bought it, and it's been one of the best splurges I've ever made. If you have anxiety, this one's for you. And don't worry, even the author himself doesn't think you're really anxious for nothing.

So Long, Insecurity 
by Beth Moore
"We're insecure," Beth writes, "You and me and every woman. In fact, chronic insecurity is a cultural epidemic, but almost no one is talking about it. And it ticks me off." 

"I talk about it, Beth!" I wanted to scream, "I see it every day." But she's right. Very few of us have acknowledged how present and toxic this insecurity is in today's society. Some of us have yet to even acknowledge that we are insecure. But here on Taxis, Tots & Polka Dots, the Beauty Distortion Ban centers around this very idea. I was so intrigued, and it served as the ultimate inspiration for the Straighten Your Crown movement on the blog.

These books may not change your life the same way they changed mine, but they are certainly worth a shot. If nothing else, it gives you someone else's perspective and story on their own journey to self acceptance, self care, and self love. And we can learn just as much from others' stories as we can from our own.

Keep on fighting, beautiful. You are so worth it.

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