• October 15, 2013
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Going from Crumbs to the Full Meal – Improving Your Self-Esteem to Improve Your Dating Experience by Raquel Whiting Gilmer

Crumbs Aren't EnoughWith $80,000 in student debt, an alter ego named Crazy Charlie, and more than her fair share of hang-ups, Charlie Bennett is on a mission: a mission to feel better about herself.

By all accounts this shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, Charlie has graduated from the best universities, has good friends to keep her sane, and an impressive resume to boot. But her poor choices in men (and therapists) have left Charlie feeling fat, fretful, and fed up. She knows something has to change–she’s just not sure what.

When the elevator doors open and Jack Hudson appears with his perfect smile and perfect teeth, Charlie thinks she’s found her answer. A Taye Diggs lookalike who sees through Charlie’s imperfections, Jack could be The One–and not just because he can make strawberry shortcake from scratch. But as their relationship develops without any sign of a commitment, Charlie is left grabbing for crumbs yet again.

Going from Crumbs to the Full Meal – Improving Your Self-Esteem to Improve Your Dating Experience

Since I released my novel, Crumbs Aren’t Enough, I’ve been asked by a number of women “how did you go from accepting crumbs to demanding the full meal?”  My answer is always the same and it’s pretty simple.  I had to first feel better about myself and once I improved my self-esteem, I could seek out what’s best for me in a relationship and demand it.  So how did I improve my self-esteem?  Well, I first had to understand where my self-esteem went off the rails.  See I don’t think any of us starts off with low self-esteem, this is a condition that we develop and a lot of it comes from outside forces.  When I look at pictures of myself as a young child, I see a little girl who was fearless and felt great about herself.  She thought she was awesome and she was.  But, then she heard “you’re fat,” “you need to lose weight,” “you’re ugly.”  These put downs slowly but surely chipped away at my self-esteem and that little girl no longer thought she was awesome.  Like Charlie, the main character in Crumbs Aren’t Enough, I felt like I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t deserve the best from the men I dated.  Through therapy, I relearned that I am awesome and learned strategies to help me see myself in a positive light so I could seek out the best for myself.  What types of strategies?  Well, there are probably too many to share in this brief post but here are three which I think were critical.

  1. Say Nice Things About Yourself

I had to combat those negative voices with positive talk from myself – basically, I had to learn to say nice things about myself to myself.  I don’t know about you but I am my toughest critic.  I had to learn to not only give myself a break and stop saying negative things about me to me.  I had to learn to say kind and positive things to myself.  I realized that even though there were areas where I could improve, that didn’t make me a bad person.  I was a great person and I had to tell myself that every day.  For example, my biggest challenge area that affects my self-esteem is definitely body image so instead of speaking negatively about my body, I forced myself to say five nice things about my body every day (in all actuality it was probably weekly but it was a start).  This was really hard at first.  But, by forcing myself to do it daily (or even weekly), I started to see myself in a more positive light.

  1. Write Down Your Strengths

I bet if I asked you to tell me five of your weaknesses, you would rattle them off to me with no problem but if I asked for five of your strengths you would probably have to think about them.  It is absolutely crucial to know your strengths and write them down.  I know when I first heard this I felt like writing down my strengths would make me seem arrogant but it doesn’t.  If you can’t articulate your strengths, how will anyone else see them.  This isn’t an activity to do daily.  I suggest writing your five strengths down then sitting with it for a while maybe a week.  Go back to your list every couple of days and refine it.  If you get 10 solid strengths, great keep them but try to at least finalize five.  Once you have your final list, put them in a nice font and print out multiple copies.  Put them all around you in places that only you can see so you are constantly reminded of your strengths.  Some people may say that is so Stuart Smalley from SNL and dismiss it.  But, you know what Stuart Smalley’s a U.S. Senator now (well Al Franken is who played the character).   Don’t worry if it feels awkward at first, you are rebuilding something that was taken away from you.  Use whatever tools it takes because it will change your life.

  1. Set Goals You Know You Can Achieve

If you are anything like me, your goals are always grandiose.  I never want to lose five pounds in a month,  I always want to lose 20 pounds or so which is unrealistic and then I fail and then I feel bad about myself which impacts my self-esteem.   Through therapy, I learned to set small goals that are achievable and I also learned to establish a realistic time frame.  When I hit these small goals, I feel successful which helped me gain more confidence and trust myself more.  It can work for you too.  My goals for September are to lose five pounds, grow my twitter following to 50, finish the first draft of the first chapter of No More Crumbs (my second novel), and write at least one blog post a week – which I am accomplishing as I write.  I think the complete chapter may be a stretch goal but I think everything else is doable and I look forward to reporting out my success on October 1st.

So there are three strategies to help you get on the road from crumbs to the full meal.  After you start to work on the strategies above, you have to practice, practice, practice.  Like Jamie explains to Charlie in Crumbs Aren’t Enough, practice makes perfect.  When you first learn a new song on the piano, you have to practice before you are any good.  When you learn a new dance routine, you have to practice it before you have confidence that you will do it well.  It’s the same notion when you are rebuilding your self-esteem.  It’s not going to happen overnight because guess what it didn’t break down overnight.  So you have to force yourself to implement these strategies daily.

Once my self-esteem improved, I started to question whether I was getting the best out of my relationships.  I didn’t just accept what was given to me.  And I actually became content being alone instead of being in a bad relationship.

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