For most women, the shadow self or the "not-so-shiny parts" is something untapped. It is a source of power often unclaimed. Many even expend great time and effort to keep this dark gem well hidden.
I know because I used to do it. I was always trying to live up to expectations I readily accepted blindly. It was a constant struggle and I found over time that I had buried much of myself, just to survive.
Luckily, I learned to challenge the ideals and embrace the dark. That is where I started to see a glimmer of self-acceptance. For fun, I figured I'd offer some suggestions, based on what I've learned. Of course, my wisdom is meant only as a sharing, not a replacement for your own unique and important voice. Take it, leave it, or change it and feel free to add to the list.
1. shapeshift -- that's right, shapeshift. shake off the mask you wear at your job or around others. dissassemble your form. let go of your image and feel what it's like to be without it. know that you are important regardless.
2. challenge your ideals -- everyone has rules or standards. figure out where they come from and if they are even your own. do you need them all? maybe you could toss one to the side or bend a few just to start off with.
3. agree to disagree -- conviction is great, but rigidity will only make the process hard. know that your truth will change and it is okay.
4. have a self-ish dream -- envision something that you want to do for yourself, that has no other purpose than to make you happy. do you know what you want in your life, beyond what others want for you? this is where it might be helpful to put aside the martyr for a bit. being helpful is wonderful, but it becomes self-depleting if you're only helpful to others and not yourself.
5. mourn the struggle -- give yourself time to grieve and curse. honor yourself. give yourself credit for even trying.
6. revel in unbeauty -- the things you think ugly and hide away just might be something wonderful and worth accepting. perhaps you find new wisdom, talent or joy. it's all a matter of perspective and guess who is in charge of that perspective? YOU.
With love and respect!