Here we go. Again. Loving yourself. This is my favorite subject. I harp on it constantly because it is that important. There are plenty of topics out there calling to me for consideration, yet I choose this one because most of the hiccups in life can be traced back to difficulties with understanding and implementing a healthy relationship with ourselves.
I seem obsessed with this concept because I believe it is the key to unlocking the door to a peace filled life. This is only possible if we are mindful of the choice to practice of self-love. No. Not that kind. Stop it. Loving ourselves provides a shield against the flying piles of garbage that the world can toss at us on any given day. We all have issues, or buttons, that when pushed, can make us question our greatness. In simple terms, all of the energy we put out into the world passes through the filter of how we feel about ourselves.
I receive daily email and messages from Switching Teams readers who are in various stages of the coming out, after having been married, process. A common theme found within these messages is self-doubt, self-criticism, and guilt. I understand the battle. We all do. The weapons we choose to fight this battle are what is important here.
As sure as I sit here, we all experience “one of those days” moments in our lives. The days where nothing seems to go as planned, when we feel like anything we touch crumbles into a mess right before our eyes, or we just feel lousy. Is this bad luck? Or is it our reaction to how we are feeling about ourselves? Our reaction on a good day may be to laugh and maybe take a nap. Our reaction when it hits us on a not so good day is no laughing matter.
When I began to unravel the tangled mess of wires of my thinking, I looked around and studied the difference between those who were frequent flyers on self-defeat train and those did not let circumstances affect them personally. What I saw was astoundingly simple. Those who were the most confident in themselves did not let much rattle them.
Great. Confidence is answer. But how do I do that? This is a great question, however the answer is not so simple or easy, but is possible for those who are willing to stop at nothing to succeed. Becoming confident is a process that starts with a refusal to believe the garbage we tell ourselves on a daily basis. It means choosing faith and acceptance of yourself just as you are over the fear of what others may think about you.
It means embracing every part of you and seeing beauty in all of your humanity, warts and all. It means saying nice things to yourself when no one is listening. It means looking beyond the reflection in the mirror and ending the crippling “if I had only done this, or should not have done that, things would be different” internal dialogue. Confidence is the reward when we call bullshit on that inner voice and see it for what it is, a big fat liar.
That critical voice lies in wait for those who are in pain, hurting, or experiencing chaos and often takes root at a young age. These rumblings of self-doubt or insecurity give birth to the voice that tells us we are not smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough, or perfect enough to be able to claim our place in the world. Our units of measurement become incorrect assessments of what is “good” and “bad” and clouds our view of ourselves and the world.
If we are not vigilant about keeping this kind of sabotage at bay, it will trip us up and block us from receiving the good things we all deserve. The critical voice serves no purpose other than allowing negativity the power to continue calling the shots and wearing us out. The origins of that voice are of little consequence in changing how we see ourselves. Figuring out why it is there or where it came from does not move us forward once we see this type of thinking in ourselves. We all know that we can be our own worst critics at times, but this is not okay.
Believing in our own perceived shortcomings and allowing them to shape our self-image and determine our behavior is unacceptable. Working on becoming our own biggest fan takes much less energy than it does to criticize and beat ourselves up. Trust me. Let go of the belief that what we do determines who we are. These are two very separate things. Who we are, at times, does influence the things we do, however our value and worth is because we ARE.
Regardless of the belief system you may have, the universal truth is that we are all important and have a place in this world that is unique. Milling about acting like we are less than another is robbing us of our amazing potential. Sharing with the world our varied gifts, talents, and abilities is what makes our world interesting and give us opportunities to relate to one another with hope and understanding.
My challenge for you is to take a moment to stop and imagine how it would feel if, for one day, you sent the critic packing. Just one day. Baby steps. This may be as simple as forgiving yourself for whatever keeps the itty bitty shitty committee in session. It is as simple as letting go of the ridiculous notion of perfection and embracing ourselves exactly as we are. It means remembering the important things and becoming as gentle with ourselves as we are with others. Ouch. I said it.
With time, practice, and a little help from our friends, that voice will disappear and what will remain is peace. What have you done for yourself today? If nothing, I suggest taking a minute to remember how amazing you are. If you are having one of those days, call a friend and they will help you out. Defer to their judgment for the day and give yourself a break.