In the fall of 2019 I was writing daily for grad school and doing my first ever morning pages as well as the book The Artist Way. In The Artist Way, in Chapter 9, the assignment is to reread your morning pages and see if you notice any topics and/or themes that stand out. What first jumped out to me the most was how I was repeating positive mantras, naming healthy actions, self affirmations and a theme of always ending in hope. I found it interesting to read in my writing where I dip in and out of emotions like sadness, anger and serious issues about life or my past, but how there’s was a constant underlying upswing in the same pages that would pivot always to thoughts of kindness, grace, self-care, joy and happiness.
I recall writing about a funny morning the month before and laugh out loud just now. It was early morning before work and I was just about to get in the shower. When just as I opened the shower door I caught a glimpse of my naked back side in the mirror. There’s a few rolls I noticed that you don’t see fully clothed without large vanity mirrors around. You know the rolls, the ones that creep out from below your bra? I like to refer to that lovingly as my back fat.
I paused to stare and began to talk to my back fat. Telling it that it was ok, and we’ll work a little harder on the eating this week. We’ll work more at the gym and we are gonna lose the weight, and we will help those little rolls back there get better. At that moment when my son knocked on the bathroom door, and I jumped being frightened for a moment. He asked, “Who are you talking too?” I replied, just as a matter of factly “I was talking to my back fat.” He laughed and said he was up and getting ready for school.
What I realized is that it’s really important to be kind to yourself. Controlling the negative self talk. Being kind to others of course too, but it must begin with yourself. To positively face the day in the body you have today. Be proud of yourself, be confident in yourself and stand up for the human you see in the mirror. Really speak lovingly to who you are and how you walk, talk, laugh, look, and embrace your body. It’s not easy, but if you begin with small winks, speaking kindly to that reflection every day in the mirror it will begin to sink in.
Yes, being kind to yourself takes work but you are worthy of your own kindness. It will help you learning how to stand up for yourself and speak up for yourself. This is a scary thought for a life long people pleaser, but it is also a necessary growth in order to practice mindful self care. I understand because I used to feel that speaking up, or speaking my mind, making points, standing behind them, was a form of arguing. However through grad school research I’m realizing it is not actually arguing. It’s telling your truth, sharing your feelings, and saying what you need.
The word argument itself is scary to me, but Natalia Ilyin explains in Writing for the Design Mind, “It’s not the kind of argument that means yelling at people or belittling them. The word “argument” comes from the Latin word arguer, “make clear or prove” and you’re making clear and proving your ideas when you write.” (Ilyin, 60) This is how I feel actually when I talk professionally about my design comps to a client. It’s how I feel when I explain at the Rotary Club what my design firm does for small businesses and the importance of a well designed brand. Yet, I’m unsure how do I make clear and prove my own ideas? My own self respect. Well you begin by learning to write about it. Just as I’m doing here. I began with The Artist Way and Writing for the Design Mind in grad school how to make my points clear, it’s something I’m still working hard on and learning to get more comfortable with one word at a time.
When you grow up on a strictly ruled family farm the word argument is something that was not allowed. Thinking of my childhood experience with the word argument drums up fears, makes me want to call my therapist, and go back and tell my 8 year old self that everything is ok. The Artist Way encourages this in writing exercises to tell your inner child that you are safe, loved, and nothing bad is going to happen to you. I tell myself that “You are going to be better than ok. Stay kind, funny, and creative. You will become a successful graphic designer, who struggles to write essays when you’re forty in grad school.”
An argument sets forth a rationale with the intent to persuade-and all writers seek to persuade.Natalia Ilyin, Writing for the Design Mind
Writing For The Design Mind goes on to say, “An argument sets forth a rationale with the intent to persuade–and all writers seek to persuade.” Now this, as I read it, doesn’t seem scary at all. I love to persuade people into design ideas, and creative business strategy for their business. The power of persuasion is a gift that can be used for good or evil, I realize. I’ve professionally spent my days, as a designer, working on making our clients believe in the power of design. Also persuading them to believe in me, and trust me. Trust my creative ideas, and to trust my design team. That we will successfully identify the problem, design and execute a plan. The argument I’m trying to make day in day out in my career is to clearly prove that you can count on me.
Ultimately, the power of persuasion can even work on your own subconscious. It hears those inner thoughts you’re saying to yourself in that steamy bathroom mirror. Try focusing on being kind to yourself first. If you do, you will learn how to speak up for yourself and your values. It will even begin to spill into your work. You’ll have fun, grow more confident with clients while you’re working so hard as a designer. So start small, just as I did persuading my back fat, and talk kindly to yourself every day.