HOW TO LOVE YOURSELF
I watched myself on video, demonstrating Bio Energy Techniques, and I burst into tears. Not a gentle trickle of tears but a tragic wail. To be honest, I surprised myself with this reaction. I knew I was self-conscious on the day Ailish (fabulous videographer) came to record, but we laughed a lot and she did a wonderful job of putting me at ease.
So where did this pain come from? It took me some time to explore. I mean the obvious things are my poor posture (which I’ve had as long as I can remember), the stone I’ve put on in the last 2 years, and the aging skin on my face (I am almost 48years old to be fair) but this was more than that. It felt like grief.
The Universe kindly put a stop to my editing and temporarily saved me from watching another video of myself with the arrival of covid in our house. I was quite unwell and I was gifted 2 weeks of no work to contemplate this lesson I knew had been presented to me.
I questioned whether the confident Oonagh that people meet at workshops and healing circles and on social media was real at all? Was she faking self-belief, self-confidence, joy?
I thought I had been down that road of self-acceptance in the years earlier when I first gave myself permission to be ‘seen’.
It took sometime but I realised that while I was not faking, I was focusing only on my ‘strengths’ and quite simply ignoring the rest. I know my strengths lie in helping and healing and teaching. But I had chosen to completely ignore the aspects of myself that I don’t like.
Not a bad plan you might think… but the problem is, that we can never feel truly whole, until we look and acceptance all parts of ourselves
Can you relate?
I know I’m not alone in this. Many of us have trouble accepting ourselves fully. When it comes to our flaws and failures, we develop an overwhelming sense of judgment and rejection.
The critical voice in my head saw an old, crooked woman. The voice said “You should be drinking more water, you should be practicing yoga, you should say goodbye to chocolate biscuits!! You did this to yourself!” She was very angry with me!
The grief I experienced I believe was the rejection I felt. It was just as if my husband or my mum or someone who ‘should’ love me, rejected me. I thought I knew a thing or two about self-love but in the moment I rejected myself and I felt the pain of rejection.
So what to do?
In my case I want to believe that I am healthy and strong and fit and beautiful. But my perception on that day saw the opposite
Perception is the key word here and let me tell you why. In any moment we can look at a situation, or indeed ourselves, through the eyes of fear, or the eyes of love.
I sat myself down and I watched the video again and again and again. I choose to look at myself through the eyes of love. I chose to witness myself with compassion.
This isn’t a particularly easy exercise, so I pretended I was looking at a friend. What would I say to her? What do I love about her?
Suddenly it was easy .........and I was filled with love and compassion for the woman on the screen. I moved from being the woman desperately trying to love herself .....to the woman who loves.
Are you aware of the aspects of yourself that you reject? Would you like to feel more self acceptance? Here are some suggestions that have helped me
- Because much of our negative self-talk happens in our subconscious, we are often not even aware of when we reject ourselves. Take some time to listen to your thoughts and feelings—Are there parts of yourself that you are ashamed of? Which parts do you try to avoid thinking about?
- Welcome your feelings—both good and bad
- Let go the need for perfection. Thinking that you must be perfect is one of the biggest impediments to unconditional self-acceptance. When you let go of the need to be perfect, it becomes much easier to be authentic and accepting of yourself, of both your good and bad.
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Consciously choose to look at yourself through the eyes of love. You can even say a prayer “Help me now to look at myself through the eyes of love”
A few weeks ago the task of truly accepting myself, felt like a long uphill road. This simple shift in perception so beautifully summed up in the Jeff Fosters quote at the top of this page, has made me realise that really, self acceptance is a moment by moment choice. A choice to 'try to love myself' or a choice to 'simply be the self that loves'.