The #IChooseRespect movement was born out of a desire to share stories of courage and decrease the shame around struggles with mental health, shame, overwhelm, and perfectionism - especially when these struggles are recurring. Inspired by what I witness daily in my office as a therapist, along with hearing how many people believe that “everyone else has it all together”, #IChooseRespect takes this conversation outside of my therapy office and contributes to shifting the conversation around what it means to be human on a larger scale.
After years of seeing my clients struggle with messages that told them to “love your body, love your story, just work harder, just let it go, just do more, just surrender, other people have it worse” when they were faced with difficult life experiences, food and body issues, chronic pain and mood struggles, divorce, loneliness, trauma, and loss -
I decided to shift my approach and ask my clients to instead respect their body and their story, even if they do not like it - let alone love it.
And let’s be honest, it feels like now more than ever we need to bring respect back to how we talk to ourselves and others. For my many perfectionist and achiever clients, this was a game changer. By choosing the mindset of respect when struggle, shame, or pain surfaced, they stopped feeling like a constant failure when they could not simply love a story, a struggle, or a body they felt had betrayed them or caused them so much pain.
They developed an understanding that respect was the bridge to love.
They started to make respectful choices in how they spoke about their stories of struggle and treated their bodies - even when love was elusive.
Five years ago, I decided to take this mindset approach to my community and asked therapists, wellness professionals, parents, educators, ministry leaders, business owners, artists, and more to share the hats they wore in their day-to-day lives, and how they chose respect in the face of shame around their current struggles. We gathered in person, took pictures, laughed and shared stories of respect - which were posted on the Potentia Facebook and Instagram feeds during the month of February.
It was a powerful message to the many who saw leaders in our community name their story of struggle and how they chose respect in the face of their rumble through the pain.
Seeing leaders share how they chose respect in the midst of struggles and failures fueled our common humanity and decreased the isolation left in the wake shame and ever persistent critical internal voices. More people said, “Me, too,” and felt more confident and courageous to ask for help, instead of continuing to suffer in silence.
Courage is contagious. Vulnerability helps perfection relax and make way for the normalization of the messiness of being human.
In a culture that makes billions of dollars by getting us to feel afraid and as if we’re not enough, building the bridge of respect is the best inoculation against the persistence of a scarcity mindset.
It’s exciting to take this effort beyond Southern California in 2018 with the help of leaders like you. My hope and prayer is that continuing to share more stories from wholehearted leaders, more people will be moved to take the brave step of getting the support they need so they can show up, create, connect, and contribute in ways that bring more light and courage on this planet. Mental health and mindset struggles are not meant to be battled alone. When more of us share our own struggles in these areas, stigmas decrease and others getting help increases.
How are you going to choose respect in the face of struggles this year - even when you do not love the painful parts of your story or a body you may feel has betrayed you at times?
Photos by: Eun Creative