Welcome to Carol’s Corner, a blog where I riff on some of the topics that interest me (or keep me up at night) and hopefully will be of help to you!

August 15, 2019

5 Steps to Loving Yourself More

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I’ll be honest, for FOUR decades I didn’t have the best relationship with myself. The negative self-talk started at a very young age and even now, in my 50s, I have to catch myself and deflect the occasional “you’re not smart enough to have your own business” or “you look so old—all those years of sunning and slathering on baby oil is catching up with you.” I was so hard on myself that I attracted more of “that” in my life in the form of crappy relationships and jobs where I wasn’t valued. It makes sense since I didn’t value myself. It wasn’t until I started to consciously change my thoughts and words that my outer world started to reflect my new, internal way of viewing myself.

We’ve all heard a version of “you would never talk to a friend that way so why do you talk to yourself that way?” Let’s face it—in our society we’re wired for negativity, comparing ourselves to others and playing down our gifts. I’ve worked with several people who hated doing their yearly self-assessment as they loathed tooting their own horn. So how do we flip the script? How can we show ourselves more love in a way that doesn’t make us cringe? It takes some time and practice, but below are 5 tips that have helped me over the last 10 years.

  1. Start monitoring your negative self-talk. Keep a notebook or notecard handy and each time you catch yourself thinking or saying something negative, make a tick mark. Then, replace the negative statement with something positive. It may feel a bit cumbersome in the beginning, but soon you’ll begin to catch yourself faster. Eventually you’ll create new connections in that noggin of yours and find yourself automatically reaching for positive statements.
  2. Have conversations with your inner child. Ok, this may seem weird to some of you, but hear me out. Have you ever watched a child being yelled at in public and you just want to give the kid a hug? Nobody wants to see a child suffer. Each of us has that inner child who just needs a hug! There are a couple of ways to go about this. You can either write a letter to your inner child or you can visualize meeting your inner child, making that part of yourself feel loved and safe. What would you say to him/her? What do they need to hear? I often picture myself at age 6. I get fairly detailed and notice what I’m wearing, how my hair looks, what my surroundings look like. You can pick any age you like. You can even do the same thing with your 21-year old self. It doesn’t really matter. Pick an event from your past where you had a rough time and comfort that version of you. Don’t be alarmed if this exercise makes you emotional. Tears are a sign of release. You’re purging some emotional goo.
  3. Practice self-care. So many of us treat ourselves last. We have no qualms about spending money and time on others and then get stingy when it comes to ourselves. If it’s in the budget, get a regular massage or take a class. Take a trip. Do whatever makes YOU feel good. If money is tight, you can still do things to show yourself some love. Indulge in a long hot bath or an afternoon nap. Take a break and curl up with a good book (or even bad tv). Take a long walk in nature. Treat yourself to a coffee, latte, or tea. The key is to do something that is completely for you. Remember it’s not selfish to love yourself. In fact, it’s one of the keys to a happy, productive life.
  4. Evaluate your relationships. This can be a tough one. It’s no secret that there are people in your life who lift you up and support you, and there are people who drag you down and drain every last bit of your precious energy. I’ll bet someone immediately popped into your head in each category. Cut ties or severely limit your time with the people who bring you down. Like pruning a rose bush, by cutting back the negativity in your life, you allow other parts of your life to bloom more fully. Trust me—I know how hard this can be. I allowed “energy vampires” to keep me down for far too long. But once you start this process, the proverbial albatross around your neck will begin to slip away.
  5. Cure your “comparison-itis.” Nothing, and I mean nothing, can sap the tree of self-love like comparing yourself to others. Since the beginning of time, humans have compared themselves to others. It’s natural. But what we’re seeing today is NOT natural. It’s keeping up with the Jones (or the Kardashians), but on steroids. Social media, filters, reality tv—it all has its place and can be really fun. But the flip side is that, more than ever before, people are feeling incredibly bad about themselves. It’s important to keep in mind we all have our own journey. Keep your eyes on your own paper, so to speak. Remember: if Jane or Jack have become incredibly successful, that in no way means that YOU can’t be successful. You have your own gifts, your own glitter. Spread it (or spill it) with abandon!

We only have one life (or at least one life in this particular body). I’m only going to be Carol Campos ONE time. And guess what? She’s pretty damned FABULOUS. So are you! Love yourself up every chance you get. If ever there was a love worth investing time and energy into, it’s the amazing person you see in the mirror.

April 1, 2019

Patchwork Pants

It was the last week in August, 1977 and I was just about to start 5th grade. I was both scared and excited. Middle School! I would have different subjects and different teachers. I would get my first locker! As I sat on the dock at my Grandmother’s cabin in Maine, thoughts of the upcoming school year swirled in my head. I pictured standing outside class, chatting with my friends, laughing and excitedly talking about our weekend plans. After all we weren’t babies anymore. Suddenly I heard my Grandmother call out to me. “Carol, I have something for you.” When your Grandmother announces a gift, you make tracks.

I ran up the cabin stairs. Grandma was standing on the screened-in porch. There was a white bag on the table. “I picked up an outfit for you for school.” I opened the bag and saw the prettiest pair of pants I had ever seen. They had a patchwork design of all different colors—blue, red, orange, pink… Grandma had bought a navy blue top to go with the pants. I thanked her, gave her a quick hug and ran into my room to try them on. I loved them. I wore them to the family campfire that night, careful not to spill s’mores on them. I had already decided that I would wear them during the first week of school. I felt certain that nobody else would have pants THIS cool.

When I think back to that first week of school, I don’t remember much. But I do remember very vividly what happened the day I wore my beloved patchwork pants. We had gym that day and because it was September, the weather was still nice and we played outside. The 5th and 6th graders didn’t have to change for gym and I was a little nervous about getting my pants dirty. I don’t remember what we played. Kickball maybe? Soon the teacher told us to line up to go back inside. We all dutifully lined up and started walking towards the school. As we walked, we had to pass another group of kids having their gym class. They were 7th graders and they were playing softball. Somehow, we all instinctively knew not to make eye contact for fear of being teased. We passed, heads down.

Just when I thought the coast was clear, one of the 7th grade girls yelled at me as I passed by, “Nice pants!!” A few of her friends started to laugh. A few of my classmates turned to look at me. Nobody said anything. My cheeks literally burned and I held back tears. When I got home, I took off those pants, threw them in a bag, and stuffed them deep into the trash, so that no one would notice. My beautiful pants, which mere hours ago had made me so happy, because they were pretty and colorful and DIFFERENT, were now something I was so ashamed of that I never wanted to see them again. I felt a mix of shame for not standing up for myself and embarrassment for not knowing that I should be wearing Levi’s instead of patchwork pants.

I have thought of that day and those pants many times over the years. It was the first time I betrayed myself and it had a lasting effect on me. It took time and experience to gain the confidence and wisdom not to care what people thought of me. It took time to trust that, if I loved something, it didn’t matter if no one else did. Feeling comfortable in your skin is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Invest in yourself. Whether it’s through classes, coaching, monthly massages, working out—whatever makes you feel confident, radiant and alive—do it. Don’t let the naysayers get you down or cause you to question yourself. Don your version of patchwork pants and live.