Happy Fourth of July, everyone! The fourth of July is celebrated by those of us from the United States as our Independence Day. While it’s technically a celebration of our independence from Britain, nowadays it’s more of an excuse to spend the day barbecuing, boating, beaching or doing other fun outdoor things, and ending the day watching fireworks, all while wearing red, white, and blue.
Fourth of July can mean spending some amazing quality time with friends and family and enjoying the beautiful summer day. But it can also mean stress and anxiety from the expectations of what the day “should” be, feeling bloated and irritable from the bbq foods mixed with the hot sun, and regret the following day from how much food or alcohol was consumed. We all put the most beautiful and curated photos on social media, capturing the good but rarely capturing the unpleasant. If you have any sort of mixed feelings or disappointment from the day, you may feel like you are the only one.
But you are absolutely not alone! The day doesn’t have to be either perfect or terrible, and honestly no one has the perfect Fourth of July (or the perfect life, for that matter) we all see in their photos.
I remember anticipating the holiday with mixed emotions. I was excited to hang out with friends, swim, and enjoy the sun, but I was also terrified that I would inevitably be in a bathing suit while also eating bloat-inducing bbq food. When I was a kid, this meant overriding my food anxiety by placating it with more food and feeling worse about myself. As I got older, it meant drinking more than I would have otherwise so I could feel better in my skin.
And I wish I could say that those feelings have completely gone away, that I feel completely and totally comfortable in my skin all the time, no matter what I wear or eat or how bloated my tummy gets some days. I wish I could say I live completely in the present moment, and don’t have any expectations for a holiday that may or may not disappoint. But while I can’t say that I’m magically the happiest, most secure, confident, and zen person in the world, I can say that I have done a lot of work and gotten a lot closer to being that way. And I can say that I continue to work toward being the best version of me, knowing there is no end destination but that it’s all about those little steps forward into becoming a better me.
I post this in the spirit of Independence Day. Independence Day can be a day for connection with friends and family, a day for fun in the sun, and a day of celebration. It can also be the perfect day for reflecting on our own individual independence. What beliefs or behaviors are you holding on to that don’t serve you anymore? Once you’ve discovered what those are, you can let go of those outdated patterns and form new ones that serve you better in the next stage of your life, the next version of you.
For me, this meant letting go of the mental pattern that told me I wasn’t good enough, that my body didn’t look like it should, that I didn’t look as good as the people around me. It meant letting go of all the “should”s in my life that I thought were so important, and thinking about what was really important to me and how I actually wanted to live my life. It also meant taking on the behaviors I actually wanted to have. It meant letting go of eating patterns that didn’t serve me, like the cycle of deprivation and binging so common around the holidays. It meant letting go of perfectionism and an all-or-nothing mindset in every area of my life. It meant taking on new beliefs, like believing I am good enough. It meant cultivating my desire to put things in my body that nourish me, and doing it not to make my body look better, but to make me feel amazing. It meant believing I had the power to pull myself out of old mental patterns, and the power to grow into another person who is never the same as the previous day, but is always malleable and growing into a new self.
Of course, I’m still working on all of these beliefs. It’s wild how ingrained those outdated mental patterns can be. But every time I reflect on the beliefs I currently have and really take a look at whether they are useful to me at this point in my life, I uncover some pattern I didn’t realize I was holding, and am able to start the work of moving into new and more useful patterns.
So I ask you to do some reflection on this day, just briefly when you have some downtime (preferably before all of the festivities begin). Let’s celebrate our Independence Day by reflecting on our independence from old patterns, and break free into newer, healthier, happier ones. You may discover some old beliefs you didn’t even realize you had!
Let me know what you discover, and how you’re going to change those old beliefs on this beautiful Independence Day! ❤️💙