Here’s what I discovered that helped me be a bit kinder to myself, a bit more accepting of who I am, and just generally happier that I am me.
I STOPPED READING MAGAZINES
Women’s magazines, fitness magazines, gossip magazines – I chucked them all and quit the habit.
Similar to quitting sugar – I stopped cold turkey and reintroduced some when my self immune system was stronger.
I found that the constant image deluge, the tireless exclamation marks following words such as sweat, hairy, or pregnant, and the unfailing tirade of shame inducing circles just niggled away at something good inside myself. That innocent child like joy in life was suddenly under silent attack, leaving that playful part of me all grown up, serious and way too judgmentally self-aware for its own good.
These magazines often give out free samples of shame. You don’t need that in your life, you have absolutely no need for any shame in who you are. Stop the shame and you’ll start to feel better immediately!
Being clean for over ten years now leaves me feeling playful, silly, happy and occasionally hirstute, barefooted and muddy. Getting rid of shame leaves you free to make choices just because you want to. Y’know, eating less processed foods just because you care about your body and not for any bossy glossy telling you that you should look a certain way.
The truth is, it’s a bit more than just chucking away some (virgin tree made) magazines. It’s about surrounding yourself with something a lot more positive. Like, lovely and kind books or blogs, websites, and genuinely feel good films. Advertise happiness to yourself in this way and you’ll come to absorb it just the same as you do with the opposite type of advertising.
I GAVE UP SELF-LOVE
What now? I hear you ask.
Self-love is an interesting concept often confused with self-esteem. But I realized, striving for self-love never felt that good. In fact, I discovered that self-love can feel pretty conditional.
A good day – one of exercise and nourishing meals = self-love.
A bad day – TV, internet, chocolate and more TV = no self-love.
Sheesh, it was like playing emotional buckaroo.
Then I stumbled across acceptance.
And this, I came to see, is where it’s at. It’s an unconditional, eyes open, honest, grown up and brave way to live and to be.
It goes something like this;
“Hmm now that I’m a bit mindful (thanks meditation), I see that I’ve been watching a lot of TV today. I’m being quite slow today. I accept that today I am really tired.”
Pause – no judgement.
“To be honest, I accept that this doesn’t feel very good, but maybe I just need a day off.”
Pause – self-reflection – no shame.
“I accept that sometimes I’m a lazy bum, but I’m not a bad person. I’m going to choose to carry on for a bit, and I’ll see what I feel like later.”
Or scenario B
“It doesn’t feel so good to be sitting here like a zombie, but I feel resistant to getting up and doing something. I accept I’m finding this hard. I’m going to choose to do two small things just to get moving, and then see how I feel.”
Can you see a difference between that, and:
“Get up off the sofa you lazy slob!
No, I don’t want to.
Well you’re gonna.
No I’m not.
You’re going to get sores on your butt.
Yeah, well it’s not that much to look at anyways.”
This is defensive and pushes away any chance of positive change.
Acceptance is a bit, well, nicer.
But not always easy. It’s quite brave to accept that often you are often judgmental, critical and argumentative. Who wants to admit to that?
But a powerful follow on after acceptance is to not base your self-worth on what you see of yourself.
Yes, we can all be judgmental, critical and argumentative at times, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are terrible, horrible people who can’t also be sweet, loving and generous.
It’s great to come around to accepting those side of us as well – and in accepting those do we feel self-love. It feels very kind, loving and honourable to accept yourself, warts and all. Self-love is just a pleasurable after affect that may or not come around. But accept it when it does.
I BECAME POSITIVELY POSITIVE.
What I mean to say is that I gave myself a good, stern talking to. The woe be me attitude, the ‘I can’t do It’ whine, and the ‘I DON’T WANT TO!’ tantrums were regular visitors to my mind.
But then they all got a new adversary.
It was small to start with, with a light squeaky voice. “Excuse me, ahem, cough cough, that’s not necessarily true”
It didn’t start off great.
But then with real practice, (and I mean, real forced turning around of sentences that felt really fake and unnatural) it started to sound like; “Hey, that is not true at all. Now you know you can do this, you’ve done it before (see exhibit a) and you’ll do it again just FINE.”
And you know what? I started to listen to this feisty voice that I created.
Why, after all, was I listening to those other voices? Where on earth did they even come from?
I cut myself some slack, ACCEPTED them, and came to see that they were the soldiers protecting my safety, and they’d been around for a very long time. All my life, really.
They just wanted me to be safe, they wanted me to be taken care of and not put in any difficult or horrible situation. But some of them became quite monstrous at times, making me doubt myself to a degree that would have me never trying anything new.
That was rather limiting.
So when I saw what was going on up there, I sent in a new task force. And as I mentioned, it did feel weird. But now, it’s become a habit. It’s a habit to challenge all or nothing statements such as “You’ll never be able to do that.” Thanks to the little positive madam that sorts out the voices up there, these days I mostly just get on with my life and, y’know, do things.
Some of these take practice, but all those little efforts do add up. So when better to change than today, and for what other reason that just to feel better about yourself? Have fun, and be kind!