Tag Archives: self-acceptance

Eat Pray Love?

I am hesitant about spending three days on my own in a mostly closed-down seaside village in March but I know I want to get away and I also know that I have to do it alone.

I have had a bit of a rough time of it in the last while and I need respite from the storm. As I drive from east to west Ireland, I head straight from a metaphorical storm into a real one.

I expect to feel lonely but I am quite content in my own company. Upon my arrival, I go out to the beach. I walk against high winds and watch the crashing waves. In the evening, I take my laptop to a hotel and peek out at the ocean as I sip on a glass of Guinness. That night, I nibble on chocolate as I watch a movie from beneath a mound of blankets. And I have the most wonderful sleep.

On the second day, I complete a college assignment and jog down a quiet country road. I make a “chillax” playlist, light incense and candles, and get drunk in the bath on a glass of red wine as I delightedly tuck into Elizabeth Gilbert’s endearing memoir Eat Pray Love.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

That night, the wind shakes the rafters and the rain pelts down. And it isn’t the kind of rain that appears on many a relaxation CD; it’s the kind that makes you worry for the house (and for yourself).

On the third day, the loneliness descends. I feel too depressed to make food or leave the house so I give myself permission to close the curtains, put on a movie and eat chocolate. The sun shines annoyingly from behind the blinds. I feel guilty.

Earlier in the day, I had finished Eat Pray Love. Elizabeth Gilbert had found pleasure, peace, God and love, and I am happy for her, but now I really am alone. Even the nice, fun self who got drunk with me in the bath has left and been replaced with a demanding, insatiable self who reprimands me with all the fervour and righteousness of a school-teaching nun. I haven’t signed up for this. I’m on holidays. I can do what I want.

Halfway through the movie, I decide that I’d actually quite like to spend some time in the company of the sun and the ocean so I drag myself out of bed and embark upon a cliff walk.

The wind whips me in several directions. The ocean is beautiful but frightening as its waves roar and rise higher and higher, its spray landing on my face. I wonder if it’s safe to walk so high up, to be so close to such fierce unpredictability. There is nobody around. Am I alone in my insanity?

At one point, the wind grows so strong that I have to hold on to a railing. Then, there is no more railing. I could turn back but I’ve come so far. I just have to get to the peak and turn the corner. I’m stubborn in my insanity too.

Suddenly, a stone hits me in the face. I march to the top and turn the corner. Only then do I raise my hand to my cheek. I quite enjoy the sting of it. Tears spring to my eyes. Am I a masochist? Do I think I deserve to be hurt? No. It is simply because I can understand physical pain. Physical pain allows me to lift a gentle hand to my cheek to check if I’m okay.

As I move onto safer terrain, I ask myself why I’d been scared. In case I died? With a jolt, I realise that it isn’t death I’m afraid of; it’s more suffering. If you’re so afraid of suffering, a voice from within asks, why do you keep creating more and more of it? Why not put an end to all the guilt, the shoulds and shouldn’t haves, the only ifs and whens? Why not stop the exhausting drive for perfection?

If I’m serious about ending the needless suffering, I need to peel off the “good” and “bad” labels I put on everything. I have to stop the judgements. I also have to stop being so dependent on outside events, on other people and their opinions, and on my own thoughts and feelings.

I’ve been so dependent on a variety of people, things and invisible forces that I’m like a small child perched on one end of a see-saw, always waiting to see who’ll sit on the other side, before I can know how high or low they’ll take me.

How I long to connect with that inner stillness I’ve been reading so much about. That pure, perfect, beautiful, unconditional love that’s apparently a part of me. If only I could know, really know, that the essence of who I am is like the clear blue sky, then I wouldn’t be so disturbed and even altered by the lightning and the storm clouds.

All I have to do is accept myself exactly as I am. And accept others for who they are. And accept situations and feelings just as they are too. All I have to do is accept graciously and love unconditionally. But how do I get there?

I guess the first step of all this acceptance stuff is to accept that I don’t have all the answers and that I’m just not there yet.

And so I start to run. The wind settles, the sun beams down from a clear blue sky, and, I shit you not, I run right underneath a rainbow.

favim.com

favim.com

About these ads

Happiness on Tour

I’m delighted to be part of the Happiness on Tour project. Check out my very first YouTube video where I give five tips to feel happier instantly.

Being Negative For A Change

All day, I’ve had an anxious feeling in my chest. I haven’t been able to take deep, satisfying breaths. I had a busy day so I just pushed on through, hoping it would pass.

Tonight, I was about to watch television and simply ignore how I was feeling. I realised that I didn’t want to do that. I’m an advocate of sitting with your emotions and listening to what they have to tell you. So I sat. I slumped into the armchair, feeling down, frustrated, angry and fearful all at once.

Then, like the good writer and avid list-maker that I am, I reached for a notepad and pen. I decided, rather than run from the things that were annoying me, I’d write them all down. I don’t usually give so much energy to the negatives but, this time, I felt it would be therapeutic to have a look at what had been festering.

As synchronicity would have it, I came across this quote by Jill Bolte Taylor today: “Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.”

And so I moaned and doubted, raged and self-victimised all over two sides of an A4 sheet. I tore out the page and turned to a new one. Here, I wrote how all of my grievances were making me feel. Let’s just say that I don’t know if many other negative emotions even exist because I was feeling all of them.

Although I don’t believe in focussing on the negatives in life (and who’s to say what’s “negative” anyway?), it became clear to me that this was a really beneficial exercise.

I had been feeling this way for no apparent reason. However, when I asked myself what had been upsetting me, I was able to fill two entire pages with reasons.

I also realised that some of the things that were irritating me were things that don’t usually annoy me when I’m feeling good and energised. All of the small stuff was mounting up and creating a massive lump in my chest. It was robbing me of my peace. Or rather, I was allowing it to. But how was I to know what I was allowing when I hadn’t even given any of it my attention?

As I worked my way down the list of feelings that had arisen from all of my perceived problems, I recognised that there was one thing that would set me free. Acceptance.

I could accept the situation. I could accept other people as they are. I could accept what they had done and hadn’t done. I could accept that the past is the past (even if it only happened yesterday, it’s still old news). I could accept how I’m feeling right now. And most importantly, I could accept myself exactly as I am.

Acceptance melts resistance. Acceptance and struggle cannot coexist. Neither can acceptance and anger. Or acceptance and judgement.

When you accept something, you let go of the desire for things to be different. And with that, you become truly present. With that, you can breathe again…

freedom

Blossoming

It occurred to me this morning that so much of what we do is done out of fear rather than joy. We spend a lot of our time protecting, defending, hiding, banishing and preventing.

This is evident in so many of our actions. We try to prevent illness, protect our energy, delay ageing, cover up blemishes, shy away from challenges, defend our egos, and bolt from pain (both physical and emotional).

We stock up on multivitamins, sip on Echinacea, and get jabbed with flu vaccines. We visualise ourselves in protective bubbles, confess our sins, and make appointments with Shamanic healers. We join the gym, dye our hair, pay for our faces to be chemically peeled, and inject ourselves with Botox. We cover ourselves with makeup and fake tan, whiten our teeth, and shimmy into girdles.

We judge and criticise others so we don’t have to look at ourselves. We work longer and harder so we can be defined by our job titles. We yearn for prestige and approval so we can love and accept ourselves. And we’re terrified to slow down, to stop, in case someone takes it all away while we’re sleeping.

Fear prevents us from going on that flight or that date or initiating that career move. We don’t put ourselves out there so we can’t get hurt. We close our hearts because we think we’ll save them from breaking.

But how often do we do things for more positive reasons? For the sheer fun and enjoyment? We’ve forgotten how to live, really live, and experience all the world has to offer, which is a lot!

We could be singing in the rain, zip lining through a cloud forest, or swaying in a hammock on a Caribbean island. We could be melting into a full body massage, swimming with dolphins, or scuba diving with exotic coloured fish. We could be playing with our children, embracing our older and bolder selves, or writing our first fantasy novel.

And above all else, we could be opening our hearts to love, to possibility, to life. Because the heart can never really break, it just opens that bit wider to allow the light shine through.

poster-anais-nin

Just Breathe

I didn’t sleep much last night and, today, I mustered up the courage to bring up a difficult conversation with a loved one. My chest is heavy and I feel like I need more air. That or a good cry. A 12-hour uninterrupted snoozefest wouldn’t go astray either.

I have a Pilates class in 30 minutes. I crawl into bed and set the alarm. But I feel terrible and I can’t relax. Then it dawns on me. I have choices. I ask myself what I’d really like to do.

Yes, I’ve paid for this course and I may miss some new moves. But tonight, I’m allowing my own voice to rise above the roar of the shoulds and the musts and the expectations.

With my decision made, I snuggle deeper into my freshly made bed. I leave the curtains open and gaze out at a single shimmering star in the October sky. I listen to the sound of dogs barking at the ubiquitous pre-Hallowe’en bangers and I smile.

Soon, I shall ease myself into a steaming bubble bath, my favourite music on the stereo. And later, I’ll curl up behind the pages of an Ethan Hawke novel.

My body is grateful. I can breathe again.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

Demanding Perfection

Last night, I had a revelation. I still want to be perfect. I am still trying to control how I look, how I appear to others. I want everything I do to be perfect.

Because I want to be liked and respected. Because I want to feel good. And because, more to the point, I don’t want to feel bad.

Last night, I was experiencing that bad feeling. For the first time, instead of ignoring it by doing or eating or watching TV, I decided to sit with the feeling. I actually listened to myself.

Later, as I opened up to my aunt, I began to cry. “It’s exhausting trying to be so perfect all the time,” I sobbed. “But I don’t know how to change.” The thought of being anything less than perfect filled me with anxiety. I honestly didn’t know how to let go.

My aunt held my hand and assured me that simply being aware and wanting change was enough. It would just start to happen. I didn’t have to figure it all out right now.

As I climbed into bed, confused yet willing to finally surrender, I made a list. Part of me was still interested, curious to uncover something deeper. I wrote down five things I wanted or wanted to be. I then asked “Why?” and listed the reasons. I underlined all the key words and totted up the ones that came up most frequently.

Certain wishes kept repeating themselves, like: I want to be respected. I want people to want to be with me. I want to be admired. I want to feel good about myself. I want to be confident. I want to be loved.

I then asked myself if I could give myself any of those things right now, today. If I could love, respect and admire myself, I would feel good about myself and I would be confident. It would be easy and pleasurable to be with myself.

If I could give myself all of these things, I wouldn’t have to try so hard, work so hard, beat myself up so much, worry, stress or doubt myself. I could skip the difficult, exhausting steps that stood between me and what I really want.

What affirmation can I tell myself whenever I feel scared or disgusted with myself, when I push myself too hard or give out to myself for not doing enough?

I love you, Sharon.” Even though I felt ridiculous, I looked myself in the eyes and spoke through the tears: “I love you, Sharon.”

This morning, I pull out pen and paper and start to write. I huff with annoyance because it isn’t perfect. I get out of bed and appraise myself in the full-length mirror. I feel angry because my belly protrudes over too-short pyjama bottoms. Then it hits me.

Would I ever give out to another human being because their pyjamas had shrunk in the wash? No. I feel sorry for this lost little girl who’s grown up believing that she has to be perfect in order to be approved of and loved.

I remember an article I read recently by Brynn Andre. Brynn had freed herself from her food addiction and lost lots of weight. She finally felt good about herself. Until she started to focus on one of her teeth. Her “snaggletooth” was a tooth that was slightly crooked. She fussed over it, stopped smiling, and considered paying out lots of money to fix it.

One day, Brynn visits her poor, sick grandmother who is still so beautiful and dignified. Her grandmother smiles as Brynn enters the room. And then she sees it. Her beautiful grandmother has a snaggletooth too. And she is perfect. Brynn feels foolish. She asks herself if she would ever speak to her grandmother in such an awful, critical manner? The answer was definitely not.

What way are you speaking to yourself? Are your standards ridiculously high? Are you withholding self-love because of your expectations and demands for perfection? Would you ever speak to a child or grandparent that way? Give your inner child some unconditional love. And honour and respect your Higher Self. And the next time you feel angry or dissatisfied with yourself, repeat this mantra: “I love myself completely now.” You deserve your love and gentleness today.

For more articles on perfection, read the following:

Permission to be Imperfect by Dr Lissa Rankin

Perfection is a Disease by Sharon Vogiatzi

Thinking Clearly

I turn off the tap and sweep the water from my body using my hands. I saw an ex-boyfriend doing this and I continue to do it long after we’ve broken up. I step out of the shower and start to think of all the other habits I’ve caught from former boyfriends and even old friends. How I no longer close my bedroom curtains at night. How I add paprika to my scrambled eggs. And how I know that a glass of milk with dates (the dried fruit, not a rendezvous with a potential love buddy) is a surprisingly delicious combination.

I’ve held on to these things because they make sense to me. Because I’d rather not have puddles on my bathroom floor. And because I love to look out at the stars and wake to the morning light. But what about the habits and beliefs I’ve latched on to that definitely aren’t serving me? The ones I thought were a part of me but that actually came from other people. From parents, partners, teachers and friends.

Are the beliefs that are running our lives really ours? The ones that instruct us on how to look, feel and behave, and on what to do, say and even like. Are these second-hand belief systems right for us at all?

It’s time for a spring clean. A thorough clear out. Pick up and inspect each belief. If it makes you feel good, keep it. You can reexamine it in another while. If it makes you feel bad, chuck it. It was never yours anyway. Once you’ve decluttered your headspace, make sure to only decorate it with things that are authentic and functional. Things that make you smile. Living with yourself will be a lot more pleasant once you’ve feng shui’d your mind.

You Are Not Alone

The more I speak to people who are brave enough to be honest about how they’re really feeling, the more I realise that we are all the same. We all go through tough times. We all struggle with fears and insecurities. We have all gone through or are currently going through periods when we feel depressed, hopeless and unable to cope.

Many of us struggle with our inability to be “perfect”. We believe that we must achieve, accumulate and gain approval in order to deserve a space on this planet. We beat ourselves up, even hate ourselves, when we think that we have failed. We feel lost and alone. We disconnect, shut ourselves down and close ourselves off from love, both for ourselves and for others. For when we don’t love ourselves, how can we possibly love one another?

It’s sad that many of us feel alone in this world. We fear that there is something wrong with us, that we have messed up, and that we must try to fit in. But how can we fit in with something that is just an act? It’s all an illusion. We are human. We were born into this life perfect and we spend the rest our lives struggling to come to terms with that reality. We battle against it. We rage so hard against ourselves that we look for the quickest way out of our self-inflicted hells. We turn to drugs, alcohol, overwork, unhealthy relationships, anything, to forget how bad we’re really feeling. To avoid the real reason for our suffering. To blame anything or anyone other than ourselves for not living life to the fullest. Until we cannot kid ourselves any longer. Wouldn’t it be easier if we accepted that we deserve love just because? The mere fact of our existence is enough to merit self-acceptance.

I’d love to take the whole world in a giant embrace and tell you all that you are okay. That you are not alone. That everybody feels bad sometimes. That you are magnificent and miraculous. That life can be wonderful. That if we all dropped the bullshit act of pretending, there wouldn’t be so many people who punish themselves for being less than society’s idea of perfect. But I can’t. Because everyone has a journey. Because everybody has their personal lessons to learn. Because I’m not a preacher. But I am a human being who has been through some really rough times, who’s struggled with a lot of the things I’ve mentioned above, and who still does sometimes. I am also an example of how, once you let go, open up and surrender, you can connect, enjoy, live and love.

This Christmas, consider the fact that everyone has a story that they may never tell you. Most people have been hurt and continue to hurt themselves over and over. But if we open our wounds to one another, we can finally start to heal.

Merry Christmas, my beautiful readers. I am delighted to be able to connect with you all. I am full of gratitude. I am also constantly learning. Right now, remember all the things that you are grateful for. Give yourself the gift of self-love this Christmas. And allow yourself to connect with your fellow human beings. We are all in this together.

inspiring-pictures.com

inspiring-pictures.com

Don’t Hide; Seek Yourself

Last night, I dreamt that I was going to stay in a hostel with a young couple. I worried that the couple wouldn’t get in if they weren’t seen to be with me. They went in ahead of me and got in, no questions asked. As we settled in our bunks, I could hear the couple talking loudly. Again, I worried that others would judge them, dislike them, and maybe even kick them out. I was surprised to see the older people around them smiling, joining in, laughing, and even telling dirty jokes.

When I awoke, I wrote down this dream. I realised that I am still trying to control my feelings and behaviour. I think I need to change myself because I’m afraid that if I don’t, others will criticise or reject me. In certain situations, around certain people, I believe that I “should” behave a certain way in order to give off the “right” and “acceptable” impression. I fear that if I am open with my emotions or childlike in my behaviour, people will have nothing to do with me. However, in the dream, the older people enjoyed the lightness the young couple brought to the hostel. They even began joking about “inappropriate” things.

I recently started seeing someone who’s very calm and centred. I really like the way he’s so sure of who he is. He doesn’t change himself for anybody else. However, I worried that I wasn’t as together as he is. That if he found this out, he’d be out the door. I know now that I started to close myself off a little, trying to control and even change myself. One evening, as we played CraniumI was so astonished to answer a factual question correctly that I actually tumbled off the couch, landing in a heap on the floor. I had been taking myself so seriously and I still wound up arse in the air right in front of him! I laughed and laughed.

I am adamant now that I am not going to change myself for anybody else. Thankfully, we are all different. We can learn from each other and enjoy our differences, bringing new depths and dimensions to our lives. I was drawn to this guy because he is so sure of himself, which is clearly something I need in myself. And maybe he was drawn to me because he sensed that I could bring an element of fun into his life. And whether it lasts or doesn’t last isn’t important. We should keep learning and growing, no matter what, always remaining open to love for and from others and, most importantly, for ourselves.

This got me wondering how much do we close off to when we hold back, when we suppress what we’re really feeling, and when we deny ourselves what we truly desire? All because we think we have to hide who we are. We are afraid that if we are our true selves, if we express what we’re feeling, and ask for what we want, we will be judged, criticised, and abandoned. So, we control ourselves. In new relationships, in the workplace, and even amongst friends and family, we hold in our opinions because we’re afraid that we won’t come across as being intelligent or witty or loveable.

But here’s the shortcut – be yourself and you’ll find out much, much sooner if you and your partner are really suited. Or your ideas might revolutionise your company. Your friends and family members could learn a lot from your views. The simple act of being yourself is so freeing that it will allow others close to you to be themselves also. Judgement and role-playing will dissolve. You will become assertive in asking for what you desire in your life. People will know where they stand with you because you will be reliable to them – you will always be exactly who you are. And because you are no longer judging or trying to change yourself, those around you will know you are not trying to control or change them either. How liberating!

Of course, it’s not easy to be yourself. First, you have to know yourself, own and accept it, forgive yourself, and love yourself unconditionally. Then, you can gift that beautiful, unique, sparkling true self to the world. Today, decide not to hold back any longer because you would be doing yourself, and those around you, a huge disservice.

Relationships with others and how to relate to yourself

Recently, a friend informed me that the guy she’d been seeing had ended it with her. She admitted to feeling like a “reject”. I told her that there is nothing wrong with her, that she is perfect exactly as she is, and that she is perfect for the right guy for her. What I didn’t say is that the only thing that isn’t perfect about her right now is her lack of understanding of her own perfection.

Relationships are excellent for giving us very important lessons. They bring us onto an intimate level with another human being so we are forced to confront our issues, insecurities, and deep-seated emotions. Emotions do not arise only for us to squash them. They should be explored as they are a clear indication of what’s working in our lives and what isn’t. Emotions teach us who we are.

The most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. If you don’t know yourself properly, you can never experience a healthy partnership. And if you don’t love yourself, how can you say you love anybody else? Your love is conditional – you will love yourself when you look the way you think you should look, when you’re in a relationship, when society seems to accept you and tell you that you’re a success. The moment any of these conditions change, you snap your love back like a yo-yo. If the love you have for yourself is dependent on a list of conditions, the love you claim to have for others is conditional too. You love them until they behave in a way that you think isn’t right. You love them as long as they fit your criteria of a good friend, a loyal family member, or the perfect partner. This is not real love.

Accept yourself and then you will be able to accept others for who they really are. Lift the veil of delusion that you are wearing across your face and you will be able to easier see what a person is really like. Then, you can make an informed decision as to whether you want a close relationship with this person or not. When you find yourself thinking, “This person looks good and we have a lot in common with each other so we’d be perfect together”; realise that the moment you thought this, a veil came down over your eyes. You are no longer seeing this person as they are but rather as you want them to be. And when chinks of light appear in this veil, you don’t like what you see. So, you blame the other person for making you feel bad. How is a relationship like this going to work?

And when we can’t blame others, we blame ourselves. When relationships end, we often wonder what’s wrong with us. I’m not attractive enough. There must be something missing in my personality. What do I need to change about myself so somebody else can love me? Never change yourself for anyone! Always be yourself no matter what. You can only attract the right people into your life when you are who you really are. Don’t waste any more time pretending and crying over failed relationships. Be grateful that they’re over and that you are not trapped in an unhealthy partnership. Know yourself, be yourself, and love yourself, and everything else will follow.

Last night, a man called into me. As we drank our tea and chatted, he spotted a photograph of me when I was nine years old. I was sitting in the sun with my brother, cousin, and neighbour. We were in our swimming togs after enjoying a water fight. The man asked if I’d been happy back then. I admitted that I cannot remember ever having truly been myself, even when I go back to my earliest memories. I was always trying to change myself to please others. It was a mistaken belief that that was the only way to survive in this world. I worried what others thought about me. I was afraid of being less than perfect. I have cried tears of sadness over this. But that is simply how I chose to think and, therefore, feel at that time. As a result, I can better appreciate and savour getting to know the real me, living my life in the right way for me, and loving myself unconditionally.

Only very recently have I started to know, be, and love myself. I accept myself exactly as I am. Loving myself as I am doesn’t mean that I remain stagnant. Because I love myself, I take myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself with my own potential. This is scary but rewarding as my confidence and belief in my talents and capabilities are strengthening. I don’t run away from my feelings. I sit with them and learn from them.

I am constantly exploring new avenues of growth and change. I exercise because my body cries out for it and thanks me for it. But I don’t deny myself rest and relaxation. I want to eat healthful foods because that’s what my body deserves. I enjoy what I eat and am grateful for it. I am good to my body so it will be good to me. I get up early to get work done. I study and attend classes because I want a good life of abundance and fulfilment. I help others because I have something to offer and because we are all connected in this world. When I feel sick, hurt, angry or scared, I observe it and allow it, and when I remember, I give thanks for the challenge as it is an opportunity to learn more about myself, which, in turn, enables me to grow.

I am good to myself. I have baths and light candles. I walk in nature and take yoga classes. I feed myself with knowledge as it’s one of the most important nutrients there is. I read books and meditate and listen to music. I wear pretty colours and do my hair. I travel and swim in the ocean and laugh with friends. I spend time alone so that I can centre and rejuvenate myself. And because I now know, accept and love myself, I have given myself a wonderful gift – the freedom and the ability to know, accept, and love my family, friends, and potential partner.

doublehockeysticks.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/two-people-inspire-love-heart.jpg