“You can only be truly alive if your mind and body are in unison”
– Thich Naht Hanh
We all want to love and be loved. To cultivate more love in our lives. We might make resolutions about how we are going to take better care of ourselves. We commit to better health and doing things we truly enjoy. We yearn for more connected relationships, whether it be friendships or romantic relationships. Yet we often feel that something is missing or not working quite right. What makes it so difficult to keep these commitments to ourselves or bring in the joy we so desire in our lives?
As a society, we’ve been conditioned to believe that if we looked a certain way we would attract more of the things we want in life to be happier. We buy into the mindset that losing weight or being thinner will make everything perfect. This thought process is basically about yourself and your body on the outside driven by the need for external validation.
However, true happiness comes from the inside, meaning the essence of who you truly are deep inside, your authentic self. Connections to others begin with the connection to yourself.
This connection begins with getting to know yourself, committing to yourself and making your needs a priority. It also begins with being kinder and more loving to yourself.
Loving ourselves is not always so easy especially when the inner critic shows up. We all have our version of negative self-talk filled with self-judgment and comparing ourselves to others. Some negative statements might be:
- I am not good enough
- I am not loveable
- I am not thin enough
- I am not smart enough
So how do we begin this journey to more self-love and acceptance? How do we commit to treating ourselves with more respect and kindness? How do we retrain our minds to steer away from negative self-talk and the constant chatter in our minds?
In Yoga, we learn to stay on our mat. We learn not to compare ourselves to anyone else. We learn to accept ourselves wherever we are in that moment. Sometimes we are steady and sometimes we may fall. These are the ebbs and flows of life and it is learning to go with the flow.
CHANGE begins with one small step
How do we change that inner mean girl dialogue? The next time you look at yourself in the mirror and begin to tear yourself apart, try this- change the conversation. Challenge the words you are using to speak to yourself. If it does not make you feel good then find another way of speaking in that moment.
Look at yourself in the mirror and repeat phrases such as:
- I love and approve of myself
- I am good enough just as I am
Changing your inner dialogue may be difficult at first, but it is a practice like anything new that you are learning. It is a process that needs to be repeated over and over on a daily basis each time you speak to yourself.
If you start getting quiet and listen, you will become more aware of the words you use to speak to yourself. When the voice of judgment starts getting loud ask yourself – Would I speak to anyone else that I love and care about that way? Are you not deserving of that kind of love too? When you are having a tough day, can you be more compassionate to yourself?
One way of quieting the mind is by connecting to your breath.
Breathing slowly in to the count of 3 and slowly out to the count of 3 for a few minutes calms the mind and the stories it creates. Practice connecting to your heart by closing your eyes breathing love in and anything unlike love out. Breathe in love and breathe out negativity. Make time to sit with yourself for a few minutes each day connecting to your breathe, pausing and finding some calm amidst the chaos of the mind. This allows you to connect to yourself more deeply and slow down the thoughts finding more peace if even for a moment.
We are all unique individuals and this makes us special in our own way.
If we can work on accepting ourselves just as we are, we will attract more of what we want in life. What is most attractive is the confidence and light that shines from the inside out. That is true beauty and it can be magnetic.
Finding Love starts with connecting and finding the love within yourself, then shining that love outward, finding more meaningful soulful connections. This may take some time as change is a process. In the end, you will feel happier and more loved as you love yourself in kinder more loving and accepting ways.
To end with a poem from Louise Hays book “You Can Heal Your Life”
(which you may also want to read over and over)
In the infinity of life where I am
All is perfect whole and complete.
I love and approve of myself.
I love and approve of my body.
I feed it nourishing food and beverages.
I exercise it in ways that are fun.
I recognize my body as a wondrous and magnificent machine.
And I feel privileged to live in it.
I love lots of energy.
All is well in my world.
Michele Kabas, LCSW, CEDS (Certified Eating Disorder Specialist)