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?
I just finished writing an article on strategies for staying curious and why curiosity is so vital to our lives. (I featured tips and insights from Ian Leslie’s fascinating new book Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It. Stay tuned for the piece on Psych Central next month.)
So I have curiosity on the brain. And, naturally, this curiosity pertains to our bodies and ourselves.
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.”
Most of us have a mean — maybe even cruel — inner voice that says everything from “You’re too big to wear that!” to “You’re so stupid!” Understandably, we may grow to dislike — maybe even despise — this inner voice.
We might dislike it because it sounds like someone who used to bully us. Because it sounds like a parent, past partner or so-called friend. Maybe it sounds like the younger you, who regularly received hurtful remarks about your appearance in school.
I like the approach in the book Mindful Compassion, written by researcher Paul Gilbert, Ph.D, and former Tibetan Buddhist monk Choden.