Happy New Year!
There’s always such a great feeling about bringing in something new, turning over a new leaf, starting fresh, feeling a sense of renewed oomph.
If you like to plan or think about what the year ahead might look like for you, try adding in this little gift for yourself that will elevate your experience 200%.
It’s called unconditional love.
It’s the most treasured gift you can give anyone else – partners, children, friends, family, pets… Yet most people are stingy about giving it to themselves.
I tell you what, if you can truly give yourself this gift, you will have a better time this year than any other time in your life ever. It’s a personal guarantee.
If this is too “airy-fairy” for ya, let me give you 2 examples of what unconditional love for yourself looks like, and you can just practice these (or just pick one):
1. Love and enjoy your body right now
So easily said, but how the heck do you do that for yourself?
I wish there was a magic button, but truth is it can be a long journey. However, regardless of a journey’s epicness they all begin the same – with a first step.
Here, your first step is to call a ceasefire.
Depending on how long and how fiercely you’ve been at war with your body, it will take time for the mind to uncoil and decompress, eventually relaxing into the body. But it all starts with calling a ceasefire.
Stop attacking the body. Stop calling yourself names, judging and criticizing your tummy or thighs, telling yourself “you’re no good” or “why can’t you be more like her”.
Realize that your body, no matter what you think about it, isn’t “wrong”. In fact it’s perfect. And it does a mighty fine job of taking care of you. All the little details like keeping your heart pumping, regulating body temp, keeping electrolyte balance, eliminating toxins… You (no matter how clued up you are) have no idea how to consciously do any of that! And if ANY of those fell out of normal range you’d be dead in a instant. If someone was looking after you the way your body takes care of you, you’d be bloody grateful. You would NOT be complaining.
So… Understand that all the nasty feelings people have towards their own body… They made all that sh*t up! Ideas and beliefs picked up from our cultural conditioning – growing up, watching TV, being around other people – that will do it. Most of it is unconscious. It’s a societal issue. And none of it is true!
To wake up from that unconsciousness of believing “you’re not good enough” – you just have to make a decision to wake up.
Call a ceasefire. Get Out of Your Head. Start Living In Your Body.
You’re not waiting for your “real life” to begin after you meet some arbitrary condition. You love your body NOW. You live in it NOW. You feel and experience the world in it NOW.
The power is always in now, the power of later is well… late.
If you dislike your body now, you will keep travelling down that road of dislike. “Weight loss” is a random condition you’ve placed on your right to be happy now. Until you decide “No thanks, I like my body. I am good enough”, you gonna keep running yourself to the ground.
The solution is simple: Like your body now. Don’t wait till you’ve fulfilled some arbitrary condition.
This is unconditional love.
2. If you fail at something, don’t beat yourself up.
Many of us (and I’m probably a serious offender) put a LOT of pressure on ourselves and have extremely high expectations of ourselves (most of the time too high). Nothing wrong with wanting to do well, but don’t let the fear of shame or failure rule and belittle your life.
To give an example: Let’s say we failed a course. Tried hard, but missed the mark. How would we feel? Maybe stupid, embarrassed, disappointed, angry, upset, ashamed…
Step 1 is: give yourself permission to feel those.
Many people are extremely afraid of feeling any emotion that is uncomfortable. They might even build their whole lives around avoiding those feelings. But you know what, life is a full colourful range of feelings. To fully LIVE means to experience the FULL range of sensations and feelings – life is much more interesting that way!
You cannot understand what it really means to feel wonderful and grateful unless you’ve experienced some pain and hardship. If you avoid all the lows, you will not really feel the highs either. Don’t avoid the uncomfortable feelings, they’re good for you. They’re the experiences that truly help you grow more resilient.
(And remember that emotions are like waves – just as the tide comes in, they will inevitably go back out. No matter how bad (or how good) you feel in the moment, it will always pass.)
Step 2 is the hard part: when you’ve allowed yourself to feel angry, ashamed, stupid, embarrassed etc… Let it go.
So easily said, but boy is this hard to do (at least for me).
What I mean here is to be kind to yourself and don’t use the energy from the wave of feelings to start attacking yourself in general.
Often when we fail at some specific thing we start to see that particular failure as something that taints our entire existence. We start judging our whole character, our abilities, doubting our value and worth as a person in general and then spiral into self-attack. This is blowing things out of proportion and it’s definitely being very conditional with our love (For more on overcoming failure check out this great video)
Be OK with yourself despite the failure.
The failure is a part of you even if you don’t think it’s very cool. It’s a part of all of us. Love It All. The successes and the failures.
And you know what? Ultimately we grow in the biggest leaps and bounds when we can embrace ourselves fully – the great parts AND the not-so-great parts. Welcome your set-backs as much as your successes. There’s no up without down, no happiness without sadness, no fulfilment without emptiness. Embrace the full spectrum. That’s just how it is if you want to live a full life.
Again, this is unconditional love.
Remember that your value is not measured by what you do. Your worth is not dependant on you achieving anything. You are unconditionally valuable. We as a society have forgotten this important point and unconsciously strayed onto the fruitless path of trying to “prove” ourselves. Let it go.
One of my teachers said:
Can you give yourself this wonderful gift this year?