This is the column where, each week, I’ll be answering one website visitor’s question in hopes of supporting all visitors through shared (and likely, relevant) challenges, triumphs, and struggles.
How do I learn to like myself better?
Melancholy in Munich
The short answer? By loving yourself where you’re at.
In my work with clients, and personally, I’ve found that the most powerful shifts can be made in our lives when we let go of the resistance to where we are currently. By loving ourselves where we are, we become more gentle with our spirits, more patient with our growth, and more compassionate to all around us. It’s in this place that I’ve seen and experienced some pretty amazing changes occur.
I remember working with a therapist years ago on uncovering some of the reasons behind my eating and weight gain. One day, she said to me, “To begin to get your health and body back in the shape it once was, you need to love your body as it is now.” At the time, I thought this was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard! Why would I make any changes to my lifestyle if I loved myself the way I was? What’s the motivation? It took a year of her gently and subtly dropping that message during our sessions before I finally got it. And it was when I practiced loving myself not at my ideal weight that my eating improved and the pounds started coming off. What I discovered was by living in a place of self nonacceptance, I was hanging onto the weight like a shield — protecting myself not only from the potential of others’ judgment, but more significantly, of my own judgment.
Since that time, I’ve seen how this approach can relate to all aspects of our lives. What is it about yourself and your life that you are dissatisfied with? What changes do you wish you could make, but aren’t? Take a look at those areas and check in to see how self critical you are in regards to where you’re at. The negative voice inside our heads and the painful words it spews shoot right to the heart of the young child in us all. When you say and think hurtful or hateful things, picture yourself as a young child. Would you really speak to her that way? To pass along some advice I read years ago, pull a photograph out of yourself as a young girl and put it someplace where you’ll see it often. When you start the self defeating talk, look deep into her eyes and show her the love and compassion that you would any other child.
You have the opportunity to be an attentive and caring mother to her, and it is in that place when you’ll begin to feel the fulfillment of loving yourself right where you’re at. And you deserve all the support you desire. If you feel a therapist or a coach (depending on the source of the current struggle) would be of help, give yourself that gift.
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