You may hate yourself and make poor choices out of the unconscious conviction that you are not enough and not loveable. You may be unaware of the extent to which you limit yourself from the negative self-talk to partake of in your head; or you are perfectly clear about the limits you place on yourself yet don’t know what to do to change it.
Habits of treating ourselves with contempt over decades feel normal. Like fish in water and birds in the air. We are unaware of the toxicity of our thinking.
Today I am doing fantastic. I am thinking of how magical life is. Our brains are amazing. Our bodies sublime.
This magical thinking is colored by the fact that many people are suffering around the state, country and world. It is colored by the fact that earlier today, I felt anxious –crappy - sad. My practice of feeling my emotions invites me to look to my body and ask what is it exactly I am feeling and where. It feels like a vague sensation that takes root in the center of my chest and upper stomach. It is a moving, undulating sensation. My eyes feel pressure and teary.
I can’t do anything about the fires today; or stopping the disasters facing my brothers and sisters around the world. My feeling - is it sadness? Maybe. It comes and goes and the next step I take is to ask myself, “How can I love myself with this feeling?” “How can I feel this shitty and still know I am a vital human being.” Then I ask myself, “What can I do today to contribute to my purpose, even with this feeling in my body?” All this sits side by side, steeping like a cup of tea.
Then I look at my plan for the day and focus on what I can do, and do it. This is how I practice self-love.
When people say you should love yourself, often it is difficult to understand how to DO it. It seems impossible to change from beating yourself up in order to get yourself to go to the gym on Monday to loving yourself even if you miss a day. How to do you go from failing at using willpower or white knuckling it to cut your calories to eating a sustainable healthy amount of nutritious food every day. How do you go from overwhelm and apathy to making a decision about what action you can take to impact human trafficking or racism or global warming?
Self-love is on one of the most important concepts that I have been learning and practicing. I 100% believe that when you get this concept, your experience of your life will change and you will stick to your weight loss and health goals. You will take steps to live in your power and engage in the world where the world needs your gifts. You will follow your desire and make good on your promises.
It never ceases to amaze me how judgmental we are towards ourselves.
Take a look at your thoughts about yourself and see how cruel you can be to yourself.
What questions do you ask yourself over and over?
“Why are you a glutton and a has-been?”
“Why is this hunger never ending?”
“Why can’t I figure out how to be healthy?
“Why can't I make a difference in the world?”
How do you hate yourself for your feelings, your face, your personality, your feet?
I had the usual hates: my nose, my stomach, my family history. I used to hate myself for feeling any emotion because it showed my weakness. My weaknesses would be my undoing. If you get to live a long life, you get to see how useless those beliefs are and how they poison our interactions at work, with friends, families and lovers.
When I set out to change my behaviors to healthy self-love, self-healing and forgiveness, I knew the only thing I didn’t have was the direct experience of having everything I needed to accomplish this.
What? I have everything I need. I just don’t know it. How crazy is that? Yet that was the beginning of the string I held onto to unravel my own thoughts and behaviors that caused me so much overeating and suffering. I didn’t understand this concept, but I knew it was true.
Let’s untangle that string….
If you have everything you need to love yourself RIGHT NOW, i.e., the ability to learn about what food is healthy for you, what foods will fuel your body and get you to your goal weight, the ability to lessen your desire for unhealthy foods – what would your life be like?
If you knew you had everything you needed to accept yourself RIGHT NOW, i.e., the ability to forgive yourself, to enjoy yourself, to be responsible for getting what you need-- what could your life be like?
If you knew your had everything you needed to feel protected, how might you take courageous action in the world?
The trick to loving yourself is to allow it all. Don’t cut it out or get rid of it. The violence we act upon ourselves in our thoughts and actions are exhausting. We erroneously think they are necessary to change. We think this torment is required to be successful at change.
It ain’t so! Instead of cutting it out what we see as the problem with ourselves, we invite it lovingly.
· Allow the mistakes and the big and little successes.
· Allow the bursts of anger and the spontaneous giving and celebrations.
· Allow the slips of the tongue, embarrassment and the kind words you use to console and encourage.
· Allow the overeating and learning how not to do it.
· Allow the practice of new habits and the successful days.
· Allow the fear and feel the connection to others.
· Allow the fear and feel the connection to others.
Give yourself a wide berth, an open field, a deep space, a clear lake or a moving river. See yourself as one among many.
Change and growth need space. Change and growth need love. Change and growth need time.
You think giving up your special foods will be never-ending deprivation. You believe the death of a loved one will bring never-ending grief. You are convinced this discomfort of not eating your emotions will be never-ending suffering. You think you don't have the ability to make an impact on the world.
Everything changes. Every moment ends. This isn’t a philosophical concept. We know it to be true. Aging does not mean giving up or becoming irrelevant. You can still meet and overcome challenges. You have more capacity now than ever before.
Do deprive yourself of pretty, sugary things that make you feel like hell and cause great discomfort. Don’t deprive yourself of health, strong bones, good balance, healthy gut. Don’t deprive yourself of the discomfort required for change and growth. Do not deprive yourself of the discomfort of doing hard things.
Do deprive yourself of feeling sorry for yourself; of focusing on the negative that decreases resilience and sucks your energy. Don’t deprive yourself of grief. Of feeling the love between you and the beloved; of remembering the gift they were; of taking up the challenge of going on without them; of feeling the pain and the joy of being with them. Of giving their life meaning through you. Discomfort means you are developing strength, muscles growing, tissues dying and being reborn.
Do deprive yourself of the belief that you can be happy 100% of the time and if you don’t there is something wrong with you. Don’t deprive yourself of experiencing your humanity including feeling anxious, angry, sad, awe, joy, frustration, amusement.
I no longer fight the food battle. Now I have the direct experience of feeling all of my vulnerability. I have the grace of still being alive. This emotion of sadness I feel that comes and goes and has been coming a going for many years. This is a perfect example of how I am loving myself. This feeling used to lead me to overeating, overdrinking and isolating and indulging in binging TV shows.
Now I hold myself in an open loving space– allowing for every action and emotion and surprise. This isn’t always easy. Hating yourself isn’t very easy either.
You are the best candidate for the job of loving you and experiencing you. You are better qualified than your parents, your siblings, your partner and your friends to know how to love you.
Becoming a person who loves herself unconditionally is a path, a journey, and a practice. Knowing that you already have everything you need to live your best, loving life is the magic key.