The self-love revolution

 
The Self-Love Revolution. For many of us, self-hate is the default. Self-criticism. Self-judgement, self-censorship. For years, I struggled with this myself. My mind was so full to the brim with the worry, fear and frustration I was allowing in, and there was simply no way I could fit in the self-love conversation. What if you practiced self-love instead of self-hate?

"For many years, I wandered through the desert in search of a narrative that was not mine. I did not feel I belonged here. I was borrowing a landscape until I found my own. But when I stopped searching and settled into the erosional peace of the redrock desert, I found myself quietly healed by an immensity I could not name. I took off my clothes and lay on my back in a dry arryo and allowed the heat absorbed into the pink sand to enter every cell in my body. I closed my eyes and became simple another breathing presence on the planet. "

Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds

Do you love yourself? Not just tolerate yourself, co-exist with yourself, or even just have a heightened consciousness of who you are and how you operate in the world? Do you adore the way you act, the being that you are? Do you delight in the ways you show up in the world and the words that spill out of your mouth and the beautiful, detailed thoughts that your brain constructs?

For many of us, self-hate is the default. Self-criticism. Self-judgement, self-censorship. For years, I struggled with this myself. My internal dialogue was a raging battle, a constant back and forth between the crushing weight of the things I thought I should be doing and the unbridled anger at myself for the things I'd felt I'd done incorrectly, or not well enough. There was no peaceful middle ground there; my mind had no space for self-love, for appreciation and gratitude for the millions of things I was doing right, no place for compassion or appreciation for the tiny miracles of the everyday. It was full to the brim with the worry, fear and frustration I was allowing in, and there was simply no way I could fit in the self-love conversation. 

That's why I believe that the first step in practicing self-love is an emptying of the mind. There's no way to add to an overflowing cup without spilling - you have to first allow some of the noise to drain out of your processing mind before you have any flexibility to start more powerful mindset practices. For me, meditation has been the tool to my self-love success. Meditation allows me to empty my mind momentarily, and practice intentional reflection. Only when the negative self-talk is silenced can I focus on the positive: using that quiet time in the morning to honor myself and my accomplishments, to feel immense pride in who I am and to look lovingly at my self, like I would a dear friend. 

It's Valentine's Day tomorrow. What if instead of focusing on your external commitments, celebrations or the champagne and strawberries, you spent some time with yourself? Quiet the mind and create the mental and energetic space for a conversation with yourself about the miracle that you are. Acknowledge your innate gifts, the qualities that you love about yourself, the accomplishments you're most proud of. Keep the meditation (or journalling, or vision boarding) in the positive, no self-hate allowed. Give yourself the gift of love, rather than focusing only on sharing love with a significant other. You deserve it. 

 

 

 

The "shoulds" make you boring.

 

The biggest question looming over 20 somethings these days (and always) seems to be frustratingly unanswerable: what should I do with my life? We look in books, podcasts, to our mentors, our parents, workshops...all in the hopes that what we "should" be doing will jump out at us and make itself known.

I argue that what you "should" do isn't the question. The more important inquiry to understand is: how do I make my major life decisions? 

Do you make choices based on what you think you "should" do, or what you're excited about doing? Are your choices coming from a place of instilled responsibility, or alignment with your ultimate vision for your life?

In coaching, we often talk about the dreaded "shoulds," the social conventions we all grew up accepting and believing as truth. The "shoulds" vary across time and cultures, but they generally serve to teach us how to be contributing members of our society. We should go to school, get a job, have a family. We should save up for emergencies, we should be rational, we should focus more on what makes us money than what brings us joy. We should exercise, we should eat well, we should help one another. The "shoulds" can be incredibly valuable, especially when we're unsure about where to go next. These conventions show us a path, telling us exactly where to place our foot next. Right foot, responsibility. Left foot, hard work. 

The problem with the "shoulds" is that far too often we forget that they're nothing more than a framework. They're the canvas on which we create our lives, and our personal choices and off path wanderings are the paint. Nothing original has ever been created by following a formula; this also means that nothing original has ever been created in a cocoon of total safety and comfort. Simply put, only following the "shoulds" makes you and your life incredibly boring.

You don't need to reject every "should" tomorrow, but I encourage you to ask yourself which "shoulds" you're currently embracing. Are they serving you in living your original, once in a lifetime, unforgettable iteration of your life? Or are you acting as you "should" and walking unconsciously through your days? If that's the case, I dare you to shed a "should" or two. When you reject constant comfort and embrace a bit of daring, magical things start to happen.