5 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with…YourselfBy Natalie Edwards
In life, many of us simply don’t allow ourselves to just be with and accept the person we truly are. It took me a long time to accept myself and find beauty in my own reflection, and it’s still something that takes daily work. Because, like many women, I had spent my entire life editing myself for other people rather than being confident enough to believe that the true me, was absolutely enough.
What does self-acceptance really mean?
Well, it means not trying to change the way we live our lives for other people.
It means allowing ourselves to be truly seen for who we are.
It means letting go of feeling that we have to be someone that we’re not, or trying to speak or act in a way that doesn’t feel aligned for us.
Many of us have been conditioned to believe that we have to live by someone else’s rules or fit into a specific box so that we can find the right job or the right partner or whatever it is that we’re searching for. In reality of course, we are all unique and we all need to accept and fully embrace our individuality.
I spent many years doing things that I didn’t believe in or that weren’t aligned with my core values, but it took me a long time to realize that underpinning this was the fact that I didn’t really love myself very much and had stopped being kind to myself, emotionally and physically.
A lack of self-acceptance and self-love turns up the volume on our negative thoughts. We start to have internal conversations with ourselves about how we can change to fit in or become stronger or more beautiful. The problem with this is, it moves us further away from what we really want, what we believe in, and what we value in life. And that’s when we become stuck, unhappy, and doing things we don’t want to do.
I invite you to play with the idea of exploring your great qualities and beginning to use self-acceptance as a way to tap into your happiness. Now I don’t mean accepting the things you don’t like about yourself and just being OK with them. We got skilled at doing this so it also means we might not be good at accepting compliments or staying open to feeling abundant and receiving. How can you think in a more positive way about the whole you? I’m sure you could make a very long list of the things you don’t like about yourself, but what about the things you do like?
If you’re struggling with your "pro" list, have you asked anyone close to you recently, "What's so great about me?" It’s a good question to ask, because sometimes we need other people to remind us of our great qualities when we've become blind to them ourselves.
When you start accepting ALL the different facets of yourself and stop fighting the so-called "negative" qualities you’ve been trying to keep submerged, you allow yourself to be seen for the whole amazing YOU that you are, rather than continuing to edit yourself for the world. Why should you have to be ashamed of some of the things you want to say or do just because you’re worried about what others will think? Stepping into your true nature and accepting the whole you means stepping into a happier, more powerful and authentic way of living.
Learning to be happy with who you are doesn’t come overnight. I believe a daily practice is essential to start to shift our mindset. Here are my 5 tips for maintaining a healthy relationship with who you are:
1. Practice Being Grateful for Your Body
When we come to the end of our lives, will we think about how we should have spent more time in front of the mirror obsessing about our looks or worrying about our weight? NO—because the important things in life are the times spent with our family and friends, and being healthy enough to enjoy that. Take a few minutes in front of the mirror each time you get dressed and begin to practice gratitude for your body. Notice the beautiful things about yourself. Research shows that people who actively practice gratitude are healthier, less depressed, and more resilient during tough times. If you can’t think of anything at first, stand there each morning until you think of at least one—and I promise that eventually the list of things you love and appreciate about yourself will grow from there.
2. Be Kind to Yourself
Taking care of your body, treating yourself to a massage, exercising regularly and becoming mindful of what you eat will not only boost your self-confidence, but it’s also the practice of self-care. The more you treat your body with the loving kindness it deserves, the more you will learn to naturally love it over time AND the more it will love you back—you may very well find yourself living with more energy and less pain.
3. Let Go of Your Inner Perfectionist
Perhaps like I was, you are a perfectionist. Maybe you spend a long time getting ready to leave the house and obsess over tiny details, putting pressure on yourself to look a certain way? Exhausting, isn’t it!? Well I’m here to tell you to stop doing that! Studies show that perfectionism is strongly linked to depression. Save the time you spend telling yourself you're not good enough or trying to hide your ‘imperfections’ and instead, learn to accept yourself for who you truly are, even with the parts that you deem to be imperfect. Someone who can learn to accept and love themselves will exude confidence and beauty inside and out, and will attract more positive people and experiences to them.
4. Let Go of Judgment
Sometimes when we are hard on ourselves and in our deepest moments of insecurity, we can be extremely judgmental of others. It’s a bizarre way of making ourselves feel better, but as we all know, it's deeply unkind. Catch yourself the next time you notice you or those around you judging the way other people look or behave, and refrain from joining in with critical gossip if you find yourself surrounded by it. Practicing kindness and acceptance towards others is the first step to becoming more mindful about our own thoughts and actions.
5. Begin to Notice Your Internal Critic
Start to change those nasty internal thoughts and how you talk to yourself. How many times a day do you tell yourself something negative? Would you say these things to your best friend? (No way!) Start to learn to turn down the volume on your inner critic, swap your negative statements for positive ones, and begin to become your own best friend.
Get really curious about the qualities that make you unique and different from the crowd. Self-acceptance is about learning to love and accept the whole of you, every internal part of you that’s working really hard to keep you mobile and breathing every single second of the day! Remembering that you and your body are a miracle helps keep you connected to that fact that you are something to be celebrated. So stop wasting time worrying about the things you cannot change and start being grateful for all the amazing things you have instead.
Natalie Edwards is a transformational coach and Forrest yoga teacher. She specializes in working with women with the same negative body image issues and feelings of low self-worth which held her back in her life and career for many years. Fascinated by the body-mind connection, through powerful mindfulness, yoga, meditation and health coaching, she helps people reconnect to their bodies, uncover hidden parts of themselves, and come back to a more inspired and truthful way of living. You can find out more about her at www.natedwards.co.uk.
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