I Just Have to Like Myself???
Wait, wait, wait…….Ok, shhhhh!!!! I think I’ve got this. It’s just on the edge of my mind……. It’s like, I can’t really grow and change in any area of my life until I truly know, accept and love who I am in that area right now, first.
Say I’m trying to lose weight. Typically, I decide I’ve had enough of walking around with the extra weight, I set down rules for doing better, and I commit to eating well. This will work for a while because I have embarrassed or shamed myself, because I’m no quitter, because clothes do fit better with less weight. I can even enlist my friends to “support” me. We can keep each other on track so there is now peer pressure to not suck, to lose the weight.
But the whole time the plan is held together by the belief that things will be better when I have lost the weight. Like, I’m not good enough until I lose the weight. And, if I’m doing this weight loss thing with friends, I’ve now coerced them into agreeing with me!
Like, for real. Check what you say about yourself when you are trying to change something. Isn’t the underlying message that where you are at right now isn’t good enough? If it was, would you be trying to change it?
In my observation of humans, we know to avoid situations where we are permanently told we aren’t good enough. We will eventually quit a job if our supervisor is constantly telling us we suck, won’t we? Kids in school stop trying if they are consistently told they don’t measure up, don’t they? If we see someone in a relationship where their partner is always putting them down we tell them to get out, that they deserve better, right?
t feels really good when someone insists on accepting and respecting me in spite of me trying to prove to them that I can’t be considered worthy, because look at these rolls of fat! Curiously, they’re more interested in other aspects of me and, I suspect, genuinely don’t care about my rolls…. Go figure!
Suppose I were to truly accept that I am a lovely, flawed human who has a good sense of humor, a sharp brain, a bit of an edge and a few extra pounds. Truth be told, I’d have me as a friend for sure! My assignment becomes treating myself the way I would treat a valued friend, regardless of where I am, regardless of how many extra pounds I have. Walk in the world knowing I am a worthy human. Full stop. Nothing else I need to do but live my life from that point of view.
It’s a big ask! Be my own cheerleader? Stand up for myself, to myself, instead of constantly cutting myself down? Defend me as I would defend a close friend or family member, when my inner voices start to tell me I suck? It’s a BIG ask!
But I have glimmers….no, I have beautiful shimmers….of what lies beyond. When I develop and learn from a place where I already like myself, it becomes an enriching experience of expansion and growth instead of a battle of wills.
Think about something you already enjoy doing. Something you are good at. If you decide to take on a new challenge in this area of your life, do you start by telling yourself that you suck and that your life will be a lot better once you finally have that motorcycle rebuilt or that piece of artwork completed? That everyone in the world is better at reading your new book than you are?
Of course not. You aren’t motivated by judgement. You’re motivated by challenge or excitement or joy or expression. Life is better because you rebuilt the motorcycle or read the book but not because you are an improved version of yourself. It’s better because your experience, confidence and satisfaction have expanded. And life would still be just fine if you hadn’t done those things.
What I’m proposing is that, if I really accept myself as I am, regardless, I’m then free to experiment with which foods really taste good and feel good when I eat them. I’m free to feel what there is to feel when I treat myself to a walk in the sunshine. I’m free to make friends with this part of me. Just for fun, not because there is some goal I have to reach.
I can feel the push back. I can feel the rising tide of “yes buts.” Yes but it’s not the same - I don’t like losing weight. Yes but if I don’t watch myself, I’m going to keep gaining weight. Yes but it’s hard to lose weight so there’s no way I would ever enjoy it. Yes but accepting myself just gives me permission to be a slob.
Hush……..hush, hush. I may not be explaining it exactly right but let’s just try the idea that I can’t really grow and change in any area of my life until I truly know, accept and love who I am in that area right now, first. I have ample evidence that picking on myself doesn’t work, so let’s commit to showing the same respect and acceptance I would show to anyone else I care about, all the time. Let’s commit to self-respect, to self-acceptance, to self-love. I see shimmers that this is the right path. And, ask any of my friends, I’m pretty smart about these things….