Last week I started talking about The Importance of Love. If you didn’t catch that post, you might want to have a read of it now so you know where I’m coming from.
So – how did you do? Did you get to a point where you can now look yourself in the eye and smile?
If you did, FANTASTIC! Well done you, you’ve achieved something really difficult. If you didn’t well, don’t despair. Keep in mind the idea that this is something you want to be able to do – and one day you’ll do it.
Notice I said keep in mind that it’s something you want to be able to do. Not something you should be able to do, not something you need to be able to do.
Something you want to do.
If you want to do it, it’s your choice.
If you’re telling yourself that you need to do it or should be able to do it, then it becomes a millstone round your neck and another stick for you to beat yourself with.
And let’s face it, if you’re having difficulty acknowledging your own presence in the mirror, you’ve probably got more than enough sticks at the moment anyway, haven’t you?
(And by the way – changing my inner vocabulary from should and need to want is something I’m still working on. I try to be very conscious of the language I use when I talk to myself, but I’m not always listening…)
So, back to love.
Let’s have a look at what comes next, once you can look yourself in the eye. I am indebted to the lovely Diane Holliday and the equally lovely Gok Wan for what follows, as they introduced me to what I’m going to tell you about. Their ideas have made a huge difference to how I think and feel about aspects of myself and my life and I’m passing them on in the same spirit of love as they were given to me.
We can only be at our most effective when we are able to truly love and appreciate our whole selves, inside and out. So here’s a process that I’ve distilled from Diane and Gok. I’ve followed it and it’s really helped me; I hope it will do the same for you.
1. Every morning and evening as you’re cleaning your teeth, look in the mirror, look yourself in the eye and say “I Love You” and mean it.You may feel like a twit at first, but you’ll be surprised how quickly it leads to a deep feeling of happiness.
2. Once you’ve mastered that, look at yourself in a full-length mirror. Clothed or unclothed, it doesn’t matter. Describe what you see. Write down all the things you notice about yourself.
3. Look at the description you’ve written and notice how many of the things you’ve written are positive and how many are negative.
4. Now ask someone that loves you and is non-judgemental to describe what they see. Write down their description. Notice how many of the things they’ve said are positive and how many are negative.
5. Look again in that mirror and try to see yourself as objectively as possible. Imagine you’re looking at someone you’ve never met – how would you describe them?
6. If this is painful or difficult for you, it can be very helpful to look at all the negative things you’ve written and ask yourself where they’ve come from. Are you repeating someone else’s opinion of you from way back? Do you have an idea of what you “should” look like that doesn’t match the reality? Tracing the roots of your opinions back to their origin can reveal some real surprises and help you to get rid of lots of baggage you no longer need.
7. However you find the mirror exercise, another thing I’ve found to be really useful is to take time, every day, to thank your body for what it does for you. That can also lead you to some amazing thoughts, particularly about the bits of your body you don’t like. On Diane’s advice I do this whilst moisturising after my shower, and here’s what I thank some parts of my body for:
- legs and feet – thank you for supporting me, making me stand firm and carrying me along my Journey
- belly – thank you for growing my children and for nourishing me
- arms and hands – thank you for all the love and hugs you’ve enabled me to give and receive, and for enabling me to reach out to the world
- shoulders – thank you for helping me to carry my burdens
It’s amazing how good I feel about myself after completing this morning ritual, and how much I look forward to it. Try it and see 🙂
As always, I’d love your comments on this or any other of my posts. And if you try any of these suggestions, do let me know how you get on.