Friday 7 August 2015

It All Started With Olive Oil...

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Well technically, Olive oil spread.

I was doing grocery shopping last weekend on an empty stomach which everyone knows is the worst time to go. Anyways, I had a craving for a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich but rather than buying one from Michel's Patisserie on my way home when I already had a decent sized container of hot chips smothered in gravy and a Lebanese pizza in a separate plastic bag, I thought I'd just get the ingredients to make one at home.

As I was going through the butter/spread section of the fridge and looking for the usual generic branded olive oil spread I'd become accustomed to purchasing, I looked briefly at the brand name spreads just next to them and deliberated on them for a few moments.

There was about $1 price difference between the two. Not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, yet I'd always gone for the cheaper option, after all, they were the same, weren't they?

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I started to think about it some more as I looked between the two. On a sub-conscious level, what message am I giving myself by saving an entire dollar on a spread that I didn't use that frequently anyway.

The brand name spread was made by a company which was founded in the 1850's or something like that and claimed to be experts when it came to quality olive oil. Assumedly a company which had been around that long weren't bad at their jobs and should be taken more seriously.

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Usually when I purchased generic branded items it was because of money fears as I'm sure many people know. The only problem with my fears was that they were based on my childhood of not having money. Dad had the occasional contract which didn't last too long because he was overly qualified and a fair sight older than other candidates. Mum had given up working shortly after my parents got married because the stress of her job was getting to her, plus she wanted to be a stay at home mother when my brother and I came along. Between the two of them, money was always tight and many of my parents fights were over mum spending more than my dad was getting in. Not to say that mum was materialistic, she just came from a household where everything was provided for her so she brought the same principle into her marriage even thought it didn't work so well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly proud of my thriftiness, resourcefulness and bargain-hunting skills which I developed from my childhood and with strong encouragement from dad. The thing is, my life is different now. I'm working 30ish hours per week, I get paid a pretty good wage plus commissions on any sales I make. I've never been left wanting for something, even if I can't buy it straight away, I'll always get around to it in time. (I remind myself of this every time I get my therapy bill and check my bank balance).

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As I'm sure so many people know, it's very hard to change behaviors which have been drummed into you from a young age and made to feel like they're law. But, I've found that if you just do one thing differently, you'll gradually unravel the tangled web of beliefs you had to believe because of the circumstances you were living in.

On a much more personal level, the same can be said about beliefs towards yourself as a person and your body image. My mother was always negative about herself. Whenever she was getting changed in the dressing room and asked me for my opinion on something, I'd oblige, but moments later she'd go back to bagging herself out. "My arms are too flabby", "My stomach sticks out, I need to do more exercise", "I look dreadful in this!", the personal insults go on and on.

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I was always determined to not end up like mum which her negative beliefs. Unfortunately, as I told my dad and my therapist recently, as much as you try not to follow in your parents footsteps, if they're present in your life and are the only role-model that you really have, you inadvertently pick up a few nasty things from them.

While I've never looked in the mirror and thought 'eww, gross!', I generally didn't have an opinion about myself. I didn't have enough, much or really any consistently positive reinforcement to make me believe that I looked good. At the same time, I refused point blank to adopt my mother's negative mindset, so I settled for somewhere in the middle. Indifference. When I looked in the mirror I thought neither yay nor nay. I'd just look and think or feel nothing, more accurately I'd only use the mirror to brush my hair or squeeze a pimple, no words of reinforcement were ever uttered or really thought by me about myself.

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My mother, with her insecurities and mental illness, made it hard for me to appreciate myself as a person. As they say, 'Do as I say, not as I do' yet it's usually the opposite for children, so I was sent the mixed message that I could be negative about myself but lift others up at the same thing. It's all well and good for others, just not for me, but apparently that's okay. I deserve it.

I explained this to my dad and my therapist and both agreed that it made sense. I also told my therapist that as hard as dealing with the loss of my mother is to deal with, it's also dealing and processing all the false beliefs I've held for so long that were unintentionally reinforced by her.

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It's a hard thing to do, going against everything you've been taught and believed for so long, but it's the best thing you'll ever do for you.

I started being kind to myself, lord knows it's about time I did so! Instead of beating myself up for continually buying and eating chocolate and chips, I do whatever makes me feel better.
Instead of chastising myself for daily stalking people on Instagram and spending a few hours searching through Facebook photos and downloading them to my computer to be deleted later on when I'm past this particular period in my life, I recognized that it's only a few hours (a few seconds to a few minutes on Instagram) every now and again. I don't spend my entire day or night on there, I don't follow/unfollow, friend/unfriend people mindlessly. Hell, I was still able to do my work and make a sale or two at the same time. Not bad if I do say so myself! Instead of adding up the cost of the things I want to buy then doing a kind of 'I want this but I like having money' pee-pee dance, I'll buy whatever it is that I want and remind myself that I deserve it, I'm getting paid and I can always return it/throw away something else that I own.

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The good news thus far is that I've really started to appreciate my body and myself. When I look in the mirror as I'm getting dressed, I don't think negative things. I think things like 'I have a nice shape'.

Yes I have a few extra kilos, but I'm not obscenely overweight. It's not like I don't do any exercise whatsoever, I just don't like the label of 'exercise', it sounds like such a dirty word to me. I can fit comfortably into my clothes and if I can't, I give them away to someone else who would appreciate them just as much, if not more than I did. It also helps seeing so many more curvy women in the spotlight, even if I'm not the biggest fan of them (Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Lena Dunham, Jesy Nelson of Little Mix, just to name a few).

When it comes to myself and my friends, I'm continually grateful that I've attracted some truly wonderful people into my life. Yes ME! I did that! I click so well with my friends and the people that I'm closest to that even though it's still a work in progress, I can now start to be happy about the person I am because of the people around me.

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Sure when it comes to shopping I still balk at the price of things, like when I spent $100 on Damart clothing because mum used to order it and it kinda makes me feel close to her, the same way that ordering Avon does, but I say that I'm investing in myself. The same goes for whenever I buy ecourses on self-love and creativity or whatever. They're not usually terribly cheap, but as a close friend told me the other night, by spending money you're also bringing it back in, AKA manifesting. Like when you put love or kindness or gratitude out and it comes back to you sometimes in the strangest of ways. There's no finite source of money in the world. That's the thing we all need to remember.

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As I gradually learn to loosen the wallet zip for fear that I'll run out of money, I remember that I'm still working, still getting paid, there are weeks that no sales come through and weeks that I supplement more than half my income. Either way, I'm not going to be destitute any time soon.

For those of you still reading, thank you for staying with me. And for those who are still wondering, yes I did buy the brand name olive oil spread and I'm still feeling pretty damn good about making such a small yet monumental step towards being happy with me.

It's funny where a simple thing like grocery shopping will take you.

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