“Self-improvement is sometimes too hard to your own self. You strive, you struggle, you try and when, as a human being, you fail—we all do sometimes—you hurt. Instead of self improvement, move towards a sense of self-acceptance. Love yourself, unconditionally. Accept yourself for who you are and what you are and then strive for self-improvement. It is a subtle yet powerful shift in attitude.” - Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa
I am the queen of hating on myself. I often fall into the trap of horrible self talk, habits of holding myself to higher expectations than others, avoiding looking in the mirror, & not accepting compliments. My internal monologue for as long as I can remember has always been: You're not enough.
For a while, friends would throw all the typical ‘fixes’ my way. God made you this way, you're insulting him. But don’t you see how many people love you? Why do you expect that from yourself but not others? Insert all the compliments. To be honest, it made me more mad and didn't help… but then one day (during a yoga practice!!) I realized that my talk to myself wasn't just hurting me, it was hurting so many around me. THAT is what motivates me the most. And that is when all the thoughts came flooding in.
Thinking I wasn't enough transferred into my relationships. It hurt my connections with siblings and friends because I assumed I would never be enough for them.
Talking to myself that way would be what my future kids saw and replicated. It would diminish their self talk, love, and acceptance. Something I never wish for anyone.
Openly hating myself taught others it was okay to do the same.
With friends who also had poor images of themselves, I wasn't lifting them up, I was making it okay and also making it worse.
I realized part of my yoga practice now had to be changing this talk. Now, a year in and am I great at it??? Absolutely not, check out my Yoga Body post to see that I still mess up.. often. But, that is why it is a practice. Yoga calls us to love ourselves first, to accept ourselves, to unite our mind, body and spirit. THEN and only then can we begin to grow.
Don’t believe that self love or acceptance comes back to yoga? LISTEN UP:
Buddha’s Path to Wisdom Chapter 12:
163. Easy to do are things that are bad and harmful to oneself. But exceedingly difficult to do are things that are good and beneficial.
166. Let one not neglect one's own welfare for the sake of another, however great. Clearly understanding one's own welfare, let one be intent upon the good.
“From an attitude of contentment (santosha), unexcelled happiness, mental comfort, joy and satisfaction are/is obtained”. Sutra 2:42
“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” Sutra 1:33
When we know and accept your true self, we experience peace and clarity. We stay grounded and connected to the moral compass that defines us. And we can make the most of our unique qualities and skills; we make the most of our potential. -Kelly DiNardo (This entire book is a guide to the Sutras)
Ahh Ashima. I talk about this ethic almost everyday. The ethic of non-harm means so much and is a huge part of our work here. Non-harm is a DEEP thing to unpack - so right now we are just focusing on showing no harm to ourselves. Yes, I mean physically, but I also mean mentally & emotionally. Negative thoughts, talk, and beliefs to or related to ourselves also causes harm.
Santosha. This translates to contentment, including in relation to ourselves. Being happy with where we are. Loving the moment & being present. Celebrating even your smallest wins. Celebrating you. All of these things relate back to this yoga ethic.
SO. How do we practice these? Lollll. That's the question right?
What are affirmations?
As Buddah tells us: Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. Though they meant the habits of our mind can affect and shape our mental state & experiences, we can also understand that we become our thoughts. Affirmations are short & powerful statements that help us create a reality through our positive & strong thoughts. You are making a positive declaration about yourself, you day, or your life. It relates closely to manifestation or the law of attraction.
Keep it brief
Use I AM statements
Keep what you need or want in mind
Some of my favorites are:
I am enough.
I am worthy of love & joy.
I am not my mistakes.
I was created for a purpose.
I am wanted.
Learning & practicing self love is HARD. I am not going to lie to you. To help, I've created this list of 15 small steps you can take this week to start.
So the holidays. It's officially November (don’t ask me where the year went!). No matter your culture or background, the next two months are often about connecting with loved ones and eating and hating on our bodies and how much we ate and the choices we made this year and vowing next year we will change all these things about ourselves and dark days and lots of sadness.
BUT. What if these next two months were full of just love, joy, acceptance, and excitement. What if we changed our mindset. What if we loved ourselves. What if we were grateful for the special once a year treats. What if we allowed ourselves to make mistakes and used them to learn from. What if we didn't try to change ourselves but instead added healthy habits that brought us joy.
Remember: Compassion isn't real if you don't have it for yourself. It's no longer compassion, it's almost pity or your ego trying to give a spiritually correct response. -Jennifer Bonadio
It is HARD to love ourselves. It is HARD to be kind to ourselves. But our yoga practice calls us to do it. On or off your mat, let's change our self feelings together. Comment below you are in!
PS: Need a list of more affirmations? CLICK HERE