So, it’s 2015 and I have mixed feelings about that. I’m sure you have noticed that this is the time of year when everyone shares their wishes, goals, hopes and dreams; most notably on social media sites. January is perceived as a new beginning. A time to wipe the slate clean from the past and start fresh. A time to forget about all of the crap that may have happened…the missed goals, the weight that wasn’t lost… or that was gained. The relationships that were severed, the new job to get used to, the missed opportunities, the rejections and losses.
We may not have experienced everything that I just listed. Maybe we had a great year.
Never -the -less, there is always…ALWAYS something that we failed at that we would love to forget. So we long for a second chance.
However, sometimes life gets in the way and we find ourselves trudging through mud… not really going anywhere. Just stuck. And we blame ourselves. We ask ourselves, “Why can’t I be motivated like everyone else?” My Dad died August 8, 2014. So of course, I did not have a “great year”. It was an extremely challenging year for my family.
Now, it’s a new year, but I cannot just wipe the slate clean. I can’t just forget about the loss of my Dad. And that is normal.
What I CAN do is work on myself. I declare this year to be my year to work on SELF-LOVE. No, it’s not a resolution. I don’t care about resolutions. In my mind, they do not work. However, if I were to work on ONE thing, it would be to relax into my being, and show myself, grace, compassion and LOVE.
Let me digress a bit: the reason why I say resolutions don’t work is because they usually go like this:
- I will lose 20 pounds.
- I will go to the gym 6 days a week, even when I am tired and/or sick.
- I will work full time, plus make 7 gourmet meals a week, sew all of my kids clothes AND….volunteer 50 hours a week for the P.T.A. (okay…. maaaybe that was an exaggeration, :))
And then what happens when we DON’T lose the 20 pounds at the end of the year? What if we ONLY lose 5 pounds but gain muscle? (read between the lines: gaining strength is a GOOD thing)
Or we “ONLY” cook one delicious meal a week versus 5? (isn’t that better than nothing?)
Can you see my point? We beat ourselves up and feel like a failure, all the while forgetting to celebrate what we did accomplish because we wrap our identity up in meeting very specific resolutions.
Now, what about goals instead of resolutions, you may ask? Well, it depends. Are you being duped by certain experts who say, “Don’t call them resolutions, call them goals!”? Some are repackaging the wording so as not to scare us off. If we are scared into thinking we have to lose a certain amount of weight by a specific time or eat a certain amount of calories a day to be successful, that to me sounds like just another resolution (and most diets don’t work anyway but that is another blog post). Healthy goals are realistic, flexible and enjoyable. They can be accomplished in small (weekly is good) baby steps. Ideally, weather or not we meet our goal is not going to make or break us.
Let me clarify: I do have maybe one or two main goals (not resolutions). I know what I need to work on, health-wise. I can get to bed earlier. I can add more greens to my diet. I can practice more relaxation techniques. I can actually use my dehydrator to eat kale chips instead of potato chips, make interesting chia seed concoctions, religiously drink my greens and twist myself into insane yoga poses.
But my goals are not going to define my year. My goals also do not define how I feel about myself. I am not my goals. We are not the sum of our goals.
We are not ONLY a success if we meet our goals.
We are not a failure if we DON’T meet our goals.
So… back to SELF-LOVE. What if make it to December 2015 and we think, “oh crap, I only exercised twice a week but my goal was 5?” So???
Are you happier? More peaceful? Do you LOVE yourself more?
We cannot fully be content with our accomplishments until we love ourselves in the HERE AND NOW.
Likewise, we cannot fully be content with our FAILURES until we love ourselves in the HERE AND NOW.
SELF-LOVE is like the foundation of a house. We can build it up by eliminating junk food and increasing our exercise. But if we become so consumed with meeting resolutions… or even goals… the “house” will crumble because the foundation wasn’t strong.
You know what? Last year I didn’t eat as many greens as I “should” have. I didn’t get enough sleep. I STILL haven’t lost the baby weight in my stomach. But that is a-okay with me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about my health or about what I look like.
I am happy with who I am. I am at peace with the fact that I am doing my best. And the stomach thing…. well, I am at peace with the fact that I could do all sorts of exercises and it may never be flat.
As long as I desire to FEEL my best… emotionally, physically and spiritually….I will work on taking care of my health and body out of a foundation of self-love. Meaning, I will not beat myself up if I don’t always meet my goals.
So what are some tips on increasing our self-love this year?
1. Find an exercise that you truly love and ENJOY… not because it may help you lose weight, but because it helps you to FEEL good. As I have alluded to, I love, love, love yoga. It’s okay if you don’t care for a lot of the popular trends such as Zumba or Cross-Fit…. bottom line is try out different things and then stick with the one that you like the best. Don’t care to exercise at all? Walking up and down stairs counts! Or dancing around the house with your kids! All that matters is that we feel more confident in our body and that when we move , we feel loved instead of punished.
2. Avoid triggers. By triggers, I mean know what causes you to start to compare your body or beat yourself up. Does a certain person on Facebook really bug you? Does he/she post a lot about crazy diets? Maybe it’s time to “hide” or unfriend. Maybe it’s time to “unlike” certain Facebook pages that tend to fat-shame or body-shame in general. Do certain commercials make you hate your body? Avert your eyes or fast forward, if possible. The same goes with magazines (Do we REALLY need that fashion magazine that features women in skimpy outfits? Even some yoga magazines can be triggering with half naked ,skinny ladies doing downward dog at the beach). Take some time to reflect on what your triggers are.
3. Discover your “happy place”… or your “Zen Den”. I wish I was at the beach right now. That to me, is true bliss. But it doesn’t have to be our ideal location. How can we find time to be by ourselves and find that inner bliss? Maybe it’s meditating in our bedroom. Maybe it’s taking a hike in the Phoenix desert mountains, or taking a walk in the woods, or wherever it is that you live, and reflecting on the nature surrounding you. Maybe Starbucks is your place of peace. Right now, I am sitting alone in Starbucks as I write this. Since I started homeschooling this year, this NEVER happens. And honestly, it is probably the only reason I am writing this blog post. (one true goal is to get back into writing more) When we find that place of peace and stillness, we feel more content in our body, can take deep, centering breaths, and we can think about what we are grateful for without distraction. This helps us to feel more love in general… love for others and love for ourselves.
4. Learn to say “no.” I know this phrase is soooo over used, but it’s true: “No is a complete sentence.” It really is okay to say “no”! Nobody has ever keeled over from letting others down. And the fact is, we may disappoint people. But that is their problem, not ours. Stay true to yourself and you will find that you can only truly take care of you. Eventually, when you put yourself first priority, you will feel greater self-love.
5. “Know thyself”. Ultimately, we cannot love what we do not know. Are you afraid to know who you truly are? Maybe you were taught to be someone different. Maybe you were conditioned to behave a certain way so you feel like a robot. Society certainly expects women to act, think and look like clones of each other. But we are all unique. Maybe you need to embrace your introverted side. Or your sensitivity. I discovered I am a “Hyper-Sensitive Person” and I am sooo relieved to know that I am not alone in how I feel. I also enjoy taking personality tests. Myers-Briggs is a good one (I am INFJ) as well as the Enneagram (Type 4’s unite!). Once you do dig deeper into your personality traits… what bugs you, what lights you up… what motivates you and what discourages you… you can work from there on showing yourself love and compassion for your perceived “weaknesses”. You will find out that many times what we see as a weakness can actually teach us a lot and help us to live a more authentic and vulnerable life.
Bonus Tip: Along with knowing ourselves… become comfortable with your imperfections.
Brene Brown wrote an excellent book on this subject called “The Gifts Of Imperfection”. It’s about really embracing your whole, authentic self. I admit that I am a perfectionist. I beat myself up for stupid mistakes. I have a fear of what others think so I tend to hold back on truly sharing myself. My grief has caused me to hold back even more than usual and that I why it has been awhile since I have published a blog post. But trying to be perfect tends to get boring after awhile. Since I know myself and am comfortable with my perceived weaknesses, I can’t keep hiding my passion. Once we begin to accept the mistakes in life, we learn to love ourselves more.
So, what do you think? Which one of these tips can you begin to work on? (remember, baby steps!)
Life truly is a dance. Two steps forward, three steps back. I have taken about 20 steps back, emotionally. I am grieving, so I am not beating myself up for that. Maybe you also have had a stressful year and you feel stuck and discouraged. Maybe the thought of making a ton of healthy lifestyle changes truly overwhelms or even frightens you. Maybe when it all boils down to it, you just aren’t ready to eat more greens or exercise.
That is okay. Repeat after me:
“I am not my goals. I am love. I am a unique human being. And I love myself. ”
This year, even if I accomplish ONE thing… it will be to show myself greater SELF-LOVE.
What about you? Do you also desire to love yourself more this year? If so, sound off in the comments!
Body Image Coach
(new website! www.mcgarrywellness.org)
Check out my book on Amazon! Beautiful Freedom: a 4 week journey toward radical body-love and passionate living