This week I talked about creating a safe space to listen to ourselves, without judgment or criticism. Because it can be scary to explore our needs and wants. Because for many of us we’re doing this for the first time.
For the first time, we’re shining the spotlight on ourselves. We’re asking questions like: What do I need to feel better? What do I want to do today? What makes me happy?
We’re exploring — territory that might’ve gone unexplored, abandoned for years. We’re putting ourselves third, second or maybe even first. We’re actually listening.
A few years ago, I was walking out of our then-house to meet Brian for his birthday dinner. I was distracted and looking down at my feet, walking toward my car. Suddenly, I saw a thick, long multicolored snake in the grass.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a palpable fear of snakes. I can’t even look at their pictures. (Seriously.)
I stopped, and started walking, slowly, back toward the door. But I kept stopping and hesitating.
I remember trying to will myself to step to the side of the snake. I remember berating myself for being so silly. You’re scared of everything! It’s just a snake! The car is so close! Only you would react this way!
You are a small, unsophisticated machine
simplistic in your function.
you rule my moods
dictate my diet
and overshadow the joys in my life.
I talk often about focusing our attention on the things that serve us and letting go of the things that don’t.
For instance, in this post, I wrote: “There’s so much freedom in relinquishing the beliefs, behaviors, habits, objects, stories and people that don’t serve us.”
In this post, I said: “…saying no gives us the time, space and energy to say yes to what truly nourishes and serves us.”
But what does this really mean?
Years ago I assumed that the critical way I talked to myself was simply me being realistic, and accurate and candid. I was simply a truth teller, who could see myself — my faults, flaws — clearly.
And yet I didn’t talk to others in this way. I wouldn’t dream of it.
But for some reason I thought I deserved this tough love approach, barren of compassion. Mistakes were the end of the world. My body was grounds for constant bashing.
Some of us might not even realize the terrible way in which we talk to ourselves. It’s so automatic, so common. It might feel like another part of your daily routine. Like waking up. Like brushing your teeth. Like walking.
Or we think we deserve the harsh words. We’re too big, after all. We made a huge mistake, after all. We tend to overeat, after all. We can’t stay on a diet to save our lives, after all. We’re lazy, after all.
I’ve always had a hard time making decisions (you should hear me order anything at a restaurant). When I really think about it, a big part of the difficulty is the fear of making the wrong decision. It’s the palpable yearning for perfection.
Plus, big decisions can seem so overwhelming. It’s hard to wrap your mind around questions like, What will I do with my life? Should I quit grad school? Should I move to another city? Should I buy a home? Should I buy that home?
Many of us are hesitant to accept our bodies because they’re “flawed.” We have stretch marks, cellulite, too-big thighs, too-small breasts, too-round bellies.
We assume all these traits are terrible imperfections which preclude us from appreciating and loving our bodies.
How can I accept something that is flawed? How can I be positive when there is negative surrounding me, part of me?
I’m starting a new round-up series on Weightless that includes all kinds of posts, which explore taking kinder care of ourselves — from appreciating our bodies to getting to know ourselves better to feeling our feelings to saying no to saying yes to savoring supportive, healthy relationships.
Because self-care helps us build a more positive body image. Because self-care helps us build fulfilling, satisfying lives. Because self-care simply feels good!
Fittingly, these posts will appear on most Sundays. I hope you find these links inspiring and empowering.
The four most influential self-help books of my life.
Last week I talked about the power of saying no, and shared examples of requests, activities, habits and ideas we can say no to. Because saying no gives us the time, space and energy to say yes to what truly nourishes and serves us.
But what are those things for you? Once you say no, what are the yeses you’ll be focusing on?
Because knowing your yeses creates a fulfilling, satisfying life. Because knowing your yeses supports you in saying no.
Because your yeses are so vital, so important that saying no becomes a priority, a way for you to protect what’s precious to you.
In Heart to Heart, my eBook with Anna Guest-Jelley, we focus on cultivating kindness, because we don’t heal ourselves with insults, judgement and body bashing. We heal ourselves — our bruised body image, our sinking self-worth — with compassion.
I like Sharon Salzberg’s definition of kindness in her book The Kindness Handbook: “Kindness can manifest as compassion, as generosity, as paying attention.”