Wednesday, December 23, 2009
2010: The Year of Self-Love!
As 2009 winds down and 2010 is rapidly approaching, I’m sure that everyone is rushing to finish their holiday shopping and trying to come up with resolutions for the year ahead. Instead of setting the same old New Year’s resolutions as the year before, however, and probably the year before that, I’d like to suggest a different sort of resolution for 2010 that most people probably overlook. Instead of planning to finally lose that dreaded last ten lbs., or find your soulmate, or make more money, or quit smoking, etc. why not make 2010 the year you finally learn to love yourself, faults and all and make it the year of self-love?!
We’ve all heard that loving yourself is essential if you want to live a truly rewarding life, but how many of us can actually say we love ourselves deep down, exactly as we are. You may have even reached a place where you are able to love and accept yourself most of the time, but there are still a few areas where you are struggling to appreciate yourself day in and day out. Let's make this year where we finally make peace with every single place in ourselves, good, bad, and ugly! Not only will you feel a lot better as a whole, but all those other things you’re hoping to achieve will fall into place so much easier if you just love and accept yourself as you are.
Here’s an exercise I tried recently, and it is extremely powerful in getting you to a place of releasing shame and making peace with yourself as a whole. I found it in Byron Katie’s book, I Need Your Love - Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead and instantly recognized its potential and possibilities for increasing self-love. I encourage you to try this, and the more uncomfortable you are with it, the better!
First, take out a sheet of paper and think of someone in your life that you hide things from. It could be a spouse, parent, child, friend, etc., or even the planet as a whole! Now, imagine that you are writing a letter to this person (or people) and start out the letter by saying, “What I don’t want you to know about me is…” Then, list everything you would be ashamed of or embarrassed about if that person discovered these aspects about yourself. Things like, “I have cellulite on my thighs, I rarely pay my bills on-time, I can be really evil when someone crosses me, I act like I am holier than thou but usually I’m not, I often say no to plans with friends because I don’t really like them and would prefer to be by myself, etc.” You get the point. Anything you would not want this other person to find out about, include it in your list!
Once you’ve come up with a complete list, you’re going to turn it around and write a letter that starts out with, “What I do want you to know about me is…” and then list everything you listed in the first letter. So using the example above, it would look like this: “What I do want you to know about me is that I have cellulite on my thighs, I rarely pay my bills on-time, I can be really evil when someone crosses me, I act like I am holier than thou but usually I’m not, I often say no to plans with friends because I don’t really like them and would prefer to be by myself, etc.” List everything you listed in the first example, but this time approach it from a stance of wanting to share this information with the other person. (Don’t worry, you never have to share this letter with anyone if you don’t want to! This is just an exercise to help *you* in loving yourself.)
This can be an easy or difficult exercise, depending on how much you currently accept yourself and how in touch with your “darker” places you are. Some of you may have several things to list, whereas others of you may just have a few places inside that you haven’t fully come to terms with yet. If uncomfortable feelings come up while you do this exercise (which is completely normal!), then just take some time to simply be with yourself and be with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that arise. You may find yourself thinking things like, “I would be horrified if he ever knew that about me! He would leave me in a heartbeat.” or “There’s no way I could ever tell her I did that. She would never look at me the same again.” Simply notice the thoughts passing through your mind and the sensations you feel in your body. You don’t have to do anything with them except notice them. If you meditate then you know the power of watching your thoughts and feelings float by and not getting caught up in them.
After you’ve taken some time to simply be with yourself, and with the thoughts and feelings that arise from doing this exercise, I think you’ll feel much more at peace with the aspects of yourself that you previously thought were so unlovable. You may even actually find yourself loving them and appreciating them! Let's all learn how to love ourselves once and for all, and make 2010 the year of self-love.