This month Republican Candidate for President, Carly Fiorina, was criticized by front runner, Donald Trump for her looks. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, when asked about her Trump remarked, “Look at the face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Trump has had to do much back peddling for his remarks and to Carly’s credit she has taken the high road.” She has said, “Maybe I’m getting under his skin a little bit.” And in last night’s debate she told the women of American:” I think women all over the country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” That line sparked one of the most supportive and enthusiastic applause of the night.

Women are our country’s biggest voting block and whether you are Republican, Democrat or neither, women get where she is coming from. Throughout our lives through the media, TV and magazines the message sent is that you are never pretty enough, thin enough and if you want the attention of a man you must be a size 2. As girls we are taught how to be princesses instead of warriors and if a woman speaks up for herself she is labeled as “difficult.” Self-esteem issues are not new to Carly as she lost a daughter, Lori Ann, in 2009 who struggled with drug abuse and bulimia. That same year she battled breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy which resulted in her losing all her hair.

If you struggle with self-esteem, it is important to start with loving yourself and asking yourself 3 simple questions:
1. What do I like about myself today? The answer may be one of your physical traits or it could be the fact that you got a great job performance review.

2. Have I made a difference in someone’s life? Being nice to a co-worker who is down or giving your son an encouraging word after he lost a baseball game makes a difference. When we help others it makes us feel good about ourselves.

3. What makes me strong today? Today it could be the fact that you got the kids out the door and got to work on time. Tomorrow it may be that you keep your cool and walk away when someone asks if you are pregnant and you are not.

Carly inspires us all to stand up for ourselves whether it be to bullish behavior from Trump, the mean girls in class who may pick on you or a boyfriend who is critical of your looks. Carly’s responses to Trump is a great role model for how as women we need to respond to criticisms.

Here are 5 Healthy Ways Women Can Respond to Criticisms
1. State the Obvious. In the debate Carly retorted, “I think women all over the country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”
2. Use Creative Humor. Carly said, “Maybe I’m getting under his skin a little bit,” in response to Trumps’ article interview. Sometimes using a smart comeback throws people off as they are expecting to push your buttons and when you don’t act offended it throws them off. If you have trouble figuring out what you might say, start by practicing a few retorts in a mirror or with a friend.
3. Walk Away. Standing there and taking the insults only empowers a bully.
4. Practice Confidence. Even though you might be self-conscious about your appearance in some way, standing up, walking tall and looking people in the eye projects strength. Carly projected this in last night’s debate.
5. Talk About It. Find trusted friends or family to talk to. Do reality checks with them about the criticisms you have received. In most cases they will tell you the truth. Ask them to tell you 3 things they like about you. Write these down and carry them with you to remind yourself that you are loved.

Building self-esteem takes time but it is an effort worth investing in. As you look yourself in the mirror each day, remember to look at not just what you see on the outside but at your heart and remember what comes from your heart is what matters the most.

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Author: Lyris Steuber, MA, LMFT is a Lake Mary Marriage Therapist & Couples and Individual Counselor with Total Life Counseling Center. Total Life Counseling Center specializes in marriage and families and our experts can be reached at (407) 248-0030.