It may not be easy, it may seem forced or silly, but it’s VITALLY IMPORTANT!
Sure, there’s room for improvement—we could all be better, do better at something, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve love. There are imperfect people in our lives, but we love them anyway—not in spite of their imperfections, but imperfections and all! And you’re as good, and as lovable, as anyone else—just as you are, right this minute.
That may sound like giving up on a dream, giving up hope of improvement, but the truth is, the best way to create a solid foundation for change is to face and acknowledge who you are, where you are, right now. It may not be perfect, but it’s a fact. OWN IT! Take a deep breath and relax into it. Then focus on your strengths and use them to build something positive.
When we judge ourselves badly, we weaken ourselves and our ability to achieve positive outcomes. And that negative focus ultimately leads to negative results: Focused on losing 10 pounds? Be careful, that’s actually a negative goal. Your attention to pounds may lead to more pounds in the long run, not less. It’s just human nature! I used to gain 5 pounds every time I even thought about going on a diet! I finally learned to catch those thoughts and redirect them into self-acceptance. Only then could the extra pounds melt off. It’s the same way when we focus too much on food, even healthy food: it triggers us to eat more or to want what we’re not “supposed” to have.
THE ROOT OF LASTING SELF-IMPROVEMENT IS SELF-ACCEPTANCE
Make any plans for improvement out of Self-Love, not Self-Criticism—you can’t build a positive life on a negative foundation. When you’re tempted to criticize yourself, find a positive alternative to work toward:
- Tend to eat too much? Love your body enough to learn to listen when it says “Enough!”
- Turn to food when you’re uncomfortable with something? Congratulate yourself for having coped with those feelings over the years and ask yourself if there’s another way to deal with that feeling or need at this point in your life. Look for help if you need it! There IS a way out of emotional eating.
- Overwhelmed? Care for yourself by making a list and focusing only on what’s most important to you. Add one thing to the list that will make you feel good!
- Feeling Judged by Others? Make a clear choice about where your boundaries lie and set them so they protect your heart and your self-esteem. Your body and your life are just that: YOURS! Your business. No one else’s. Reclaim them.
- Don’t like what you see in the mirror? Please don’t run—take a moment and look for one good aspect, one thing you find attractive or appealing. Focus on that, and smile. Find the love!
Self Compassion: The Metta Practice
“Metta”, often translated as loving kindness, is not just something we practice on others, it’s essential to start with yourself. There are many versions of this basic Eastern compassion practice, but in its most basic form, it usually looks something like this:
Repeat to yourself 3 times or for a period of time:
May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
Later, you can substitute “You”, “We”, or someone’s name for “I”. Begin with yourself, then if you want to expand your powers of compassion, broaden it to others you care about, the world in general. Eventually, to really expand your heart, you can include your “enemies” too. That’s challenging, but powerful!
So, extend your love to yourself, every day! YOU CAN DO IT. YOU DESERVE IT!
Happy Valentine’s Day!