We live in a world that enforces a message into every aspect of our being that we are not enough. We see it on the television, we read it in magazines, we live amongst stereotypes and have deeply embedded belief systems that strengthen the message. Sometimes the message can be helpful as it pushes us to reach our greatest potential but in other aspects of our life it can be very damaging. Learning to genuinely and unapologetically love yourself is not something that simply develops over time; it is something that you must fight for every day. We can fight for it together as a whole but at the end of the day the change must occur within each one of us as individuals. The idea of loving yourself may seem inconsequential but I know from personal experience that it will change your entire world and the experience of those around you.
After struggling with an eating disorder in high school and maintaining an unhealthy relationship with my body for years, I finally reached a point where I was ready to choose my happiness over a number on the scale. I’ve always been someone who sets goals and gets great satisfaction from achieving them and I started to realize that by focusing my time and energy on the superficial I was slowing myself down from accomplishing the things that truly mattered to me. Here are three tools I used to help me get from a place of negativity and self-loathing to the positive, kick-ass place I’m at today.
Shift the Focus
It’s time to stop focusing on your flaws and start looking at all of the incredible things that make you YOU! At what point did it become normal to pick ourselves apart and put ourselves down? When you look in the mirror what words come to mind? Are they loving, kind and generous or are they mean, hate-filled and sabotaging? Would you say the things you say about yourself to your best friend? If the answer is no, ask yourself why? If you lived with someone who was verbally abusive would you flourish or shut down? When you notice yourself speaking poorly about yourself, stop right away and immediately say one or two positive things about yourself. When you start looking for the good in yourself you’ll see it more clearly in others too and in an instant your world will become a more beautiful place.
Surround Yourself with Good
Good people. Good working environments. Good energy. We only have so much time in this world and can’t waste it surrounding ourselves with people, places and situations that drain us of energy or make us feel less versus more. Do an inventory of your life and make a list of anything that is subtracting from your happiness. Make another list of anything that makes you happy, fulfilled, joyful and whole. It seems so obvious that we should try to incorporate more of the later list into our lives but sometimes we get stuck in a rut and don’t even realize that a friend, family member, significant other, job or home situation is bringing us down. Once you are clear on what makes you happy you can make it a priority to schedule more time for it in your life. Whether it’s hanging out with a certain friend, drawing, reading, dancing, running, playing guitar, listening to music, life is all about finding moments of joy to keep your happy tank full!
Let Yourself Feel
We live in a society that is busy, plugged in and checked out when it comes to really understanding and listening to our bodies. We “push through”, yo-yo diet and go from one thing to the next without ever checking in with ourselves. Your body knows what it needs to be healthy and happy but if you don’t stop to listen to it you’ll never know what it’s asking for. Take a minimum of 5 minutes every day (I know you can find 5-minutes!) to check in with your body and actually feel it. Here’s an easy, no fail way to reconnect with yourself:
The 5-Minute Body Check-In
1. Find a space where no one will interrupt you for 5-minutes. (I often do this in my car before getting out to go to a meeting.)
2. Set an alarm so you know when 5-minutes is up. Don’t even think about checking your phone every minute….you’ll get distracted!
3. Close your eyes and start to do a body scan from your feet all the way to the top of your head.
4. Focus on each body part for a few seconds and breathe in and out. If you feel uncomfortable and notice yourself getting fidgety or wanting to get up just take note of the feelings and keep breathing. The more antsy you are, the more you need to sit. When I started this exercise I could barely sit for a minute and now I can last 10 minutes!
5. While you are doing the body scan keep your breath steady and notice where your mind goes. Can you stay focused on the body part you are scanning or do you start thinking about school, your kids, the never ending TO DO list, grocery shopping etc.? If you notice your thoughts moving away from your body slowly bring it back again.
Learning to love yourself doesn’t happen overnight and like anything it takes practice, patience and a few ups and downs. It is worth it though and once you come to a more peaceful place with yourself I can guarantee that all aspects of your life will start to come together in a way that is magical. You can visit my website at www.rawbeautytalks.com to hear the stories of other women on the journey to find their own confidence, happiness and self-love. XO – Erin