Diet is a 4-Letter Word

The psychology of eating

Building Up Your Daughter's Self-Esteem

What I wish someone had told me as a girl

As a complement to my series on family influence on our food preferences, I decided to include a few thoughts about self-esteem and today's teenage girls.

I work quite a bit with girls in elementary, junior high, and high school and almost every single one of them has body image issues. Did you know that 80% of 10-year-old girls have already been on a diet? You know the number one cause of dieting is body dissatisfaction, right? So when I was asked to review M.J. Abadie's book The Goddess in Every Girl: Develop Your Feminine Power, I was hopeful that her words might be able to build up our girls' self-esteem.

I am happy to say that Abadie delivered. She teaches young women how to find—and keep—their voice as they enter adolescence and adulthood. Using the power of mindfulness techniques and ancient goddess archetypes, Abadie does for young women what Jean Bolen did for adult women in the 1980s with her best-selling book Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women and later in the 2000s with Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women over Fifty and Crones Don’t Whine.

What I love about Abadie’s book is that although it is written for teenage girls, women (and some men) of all ages can relate to these messages—and maybe even do some healing around childhood negative beliefs about your body.

Her nuggets of wisdom include:

  • The myth of mind/body split – You cannot separate the mind from the body; male from female; right brain from left. We need balance to thrive, no matter your gender, belief systems, or sexual orientation.
  • It’s who you are that counts – It doesn’t matter what you look like, what you do, or how you do it; we are all unique individuals and that is wonderfully perfect.
  • We all have a dark side – There is nothing evil about it; it is part of the whole. There is no dark without light, no light without dark. Nobody’s perfect. Ever.
  • We all have the capacity to heal – The word medicine originally meant, “knowledge of the wise woman,” and all of us have this knowledge within us - we can learn to access this healing power again, if we are open to listening to our bodies and intuiting what to do.
  • We all need quiet time every day – Silence is energy in and of itself and quiet times of reflection can be powerful tools to heal. Abadie suggests we all look at our lives and ask ourselves how much silence we want in our life v. what we are actually getting. Then look for ways to get rid of the ‘noise’ in favor of a more balanced approach between silence and sound.
  • It’s important to have positive role models – You are the best role model for your child; it's so much more than "Do What I Say, Not What I Do."
  • We are all Divine – Every one of us has the Divine spark within. We are all children of the Goddess [God/Universe/insert your term for a Higher Power here]. And that spark will never die. Even in your darkest hour, that spark of Divine is still there, lying dormant within you. Enliven it!
  • You only get one body. Honor it. – Your body is a temple, a sacred vessel that should be cherished. Take exquisite care of yourself, for you are the only one who can and there are no second chances here.
  • Keep a journal to stay anchored – Remember the diaries we used to have as children? This is the same idea. Everyone needs a place where they can write down their dreams and look back every once in a while to see what unfolded. When I was a child, I used to have this saying by William Arthur Ward on my wall: “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” Let your imagination run wild and write down those dreams. Watch them manifest into reality right in front of your eyes.
  • Find your sacred space – We should all have a space we can call our own, somewhere where we feel safe. It can be a room or a small corner that is just ours, but we all need a place where we can just let go.

Do yourself—and your daughter—a favor and discuss the importance of self-care, listening to and trusting your intuition, honoring your body, and finding a space you can call your own. Even better, get a hold of a copy of this book and gift it to her for an upcoming birthday or holiday.

For more about M. J. Abadie, go to: http://www.beyondword.com/authors/m.j.-abadie

Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychology at Boise State University.

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