Saturday, October 26, 2013

Learning positive self-talk from Emma Peel

When I was seven, I wanted to be Emma Peel.
What girl wouldn't want to be beautiful, sexy, smart and confident?
Think back to a time when you felt beautiful, powerful, intelligent, confident. Maybe even sexy. What inspired you to feel that way about yourself? I clearly remember my inspiration: Emma Peel.

When I was seven, the TV screen was populated by one Western program after another, and few offered any suitable role models for a young girl looking for adventure. I tried pretending to be Miss Kitty from "Gunsmoke," but she was uninspiring.

Then one night, my older sister, Becky, tuned our TV to "The Avengers," and the confidant, beautiful, sexy Emma Peel entered our living room wearing a tight, black leather catsuit, black boots and lipstick. She drove a convertible sports car too. Mrs. Peel exuded confidence like no other woman I'd ever seen. She had my attention.

An expert at karate, fencing and all manner of weaponry, Emma Peel was not the usual kind of female TV character who needed to be rescued by a man. In fact, she often rescued Mr. Steed from danger. Emma Peel was a spy. A secret agent. And she was super cool. Now here was the kind of woman I wanted to become!

My cousin, Donette and I had spent our time playing pioneers and "I Dream of Jeannie," but now we started playing "spy girls." I don't remember much about our spy missions, but I still smile when I think of how much fun we had creating exciting adventures as invincible girl spies solving crimes and saving the world.

All the way through elementary school, I felt I could do anything. I was an intrepid girl spy, after all. But then something happened to my self confidence.

How old were we when we began doubting ourselves and stopped believing we could do anything? Was it at puberty? When we first began noticing boys? When other girls starting demeaning us?

Entering the awkward, geeky junior high years, my confidence waned. I certainly did not look like Emma Peel. Nor did I feel powerful and confident. I didn't need other girls to demean me because I did a pretty good job of it all by myself.

Through my teens, twenties and even thirties, my inner conversation with myself went something like this: "You're not good enough. You're not pretty. You're fat. Your nose is too big. Your breasts are too small."
The saddest part is that I often vocalized my self-talk even after I became a mother, and my daughter heard me belittling myself constantly.

Shame on me. A woman should love herself. And that includes loving her body.

It wasn't until I was in my late forties that I began to channel Emma Peel again. Don't get me wrong. I know I am never going to be a spy. But I began to find that strong inner voice again.

When I catch myself thinking negative thoughts about myself, I replace them with positive thoughts. "You can do this!" has become my new mantra.

I've since apologized to my young adult daughter for putting myself down in front of her. All of her life, I've made a point of telling her that she's beautiful and smart. She is.

Now I can admit that I too, am smart. And even beautiful.

In the past few years, I hope that I've shown her that any woman, even a middle-aged woman, can be smart, confidant and beautiful if she believes in herself.

The next time you have a negative thought about yourself, stop. Take a deep breath. Then pretend that you're Emma Peel, confident, sexy spy. Tell yourself how marvelous and brave you are.When you hold your head up high and believe in yourself, others will believe in you too.

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