Thursday, December 1, 2011
Hello, Friends and Family,
It is great to connect with you again. I take none of you for granted and truly appreciate and care about you all. Thanks for visiting with me. I hope we can have great synergy today. I love our team spirit; our desire to live up to our potential is key in making choices to increase our total wellness.
Let’s talk about how we value ourselves (self-worth), esteem ourselves (self-esteem) and respect ourselves (self-respect). How do you see yourself? Do you have self-confidence? Do you treat yourself in healthy ways, or do you tend to put yourself down? Are you self-conscious in public, caring too much about what others think about you? Do you think or act in ways that manifest a dislike or hatred of self? What are some practical things we can do now to start healing in this area?
Let’s do life together and talk about these issues. If you find yourself with a healthy self-image and self-confidence, I am happy for you and celebrate with you. Many of us wish we were in your situation, and I would encourage you to help those who lack wellness in this area. My hope is that we all continue to heal and pursue optimal health in all areas (body, soul, spirit).
If you are anything like me, I can be my worst enemy. Tearing myself down, disrespecting what I do and am, overly critical of how I look like, letting compliments from others go in one ear and out the other. With friends like me, who needs enemies? I have become very skillful in demeaning my being, discounting my skills, diminishing my good qualities, devaluing my accomplishments, and decreasing the quality of my life. Although I still possess this propensity, I have started to reject these negative, destructive patterns and habits. Respecting ourselves—our body, mind, heart, soul, spirit—is essential to have a happy, healthy, hilarious, and holy life. Allow me to share how I have journeyed on this path toward healing. I am still on this path and pray you join me. Though perfection will never be achieved, striving for excellence is an exhilarating adventure.
Why do we show such dislike, even hatred, toward ourselves? Some of us think we are good-for-nothing, only worthy of something awful. Some of us think we are losers, undeserving of any success. Some of us see ourselves as welcome mats, something to be stepped on. And some of us even think we are trash, something to be debased and discarded. Our words, thoughts and actions reflect how we deem ourselves as ugly, stupid, incompetent, worthless, or even cursed.
I am all too familiar with these sadistic thoughts, sentiments, and habits. Our past shapes our present. I have learned that these patterns of self-loathing reflect a deep sense of shame and/or guilt that plague us. This baggage may be a result of how we were brought up. It could be years of not receiving attention, affirmation, affection, approval, or admiration from our parents or guardians. It could be one or more traumas we have experienced, such as physical, emotional, mental or sexual abuse.
My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced a less than loving life. To have a beautiful garden with fragrant and blooming flowers, rich and fertile soil, weeds nowhere to be found, lush grass, and trees bearing abundant fruits, we need to give it attention, cultivation, nurturance, nourishment, protection. Just like a garden, we also need to be nurtured and protected in order to be healthy and bear good fruits. There is hope for those of us who have been deprived and are broken. We will never be perfect, yet, as broken vessels, we can be used in mighty and mundane ways. Let’s show courage and self-respect by not sweeping our past hurts and pains under the rug and pretending they have no effect on us. Let’s address them head on and break the bondage they have over us. Furthermore, we heal as we help. Our wounds and scars can help others heal, and we also heal.
In addition to inner healing work, we can put into practice some of these external exercises. To reach our full potential, modifying our external behaviors and mending our internal issues should be done concurrently. Thinking, feeling, and behaving like you are garbage? Being negative and destructive to yourself? Feeling self-conscious in public, and self-deprecating thoughts and feelings arise in you? Controlled by what others think about you (or what you think they think about you)? Let’s get practical and talk about what I do to keep myself from being overwhelmed.
I love challenges. I reject my tendency to shut out my surroundings. Instead, I choose to live in the present. I don’t want to just passively exist; I want to be alive and engage all my five senses! How do I do this? I literally start looking around the room or wherever I am. I look at those around me, even making eye contact with some. When this happens, I affirm these strangers with a sincere smile, a nice nod, or even a heartfelt “Hello; how are you?” I caress the side or back of my head. I take deep breaths and breathe in life. I listen to all the sounds around me. I engage in self-talk and tell myself I am a special, precious, worthy person…deserving of love, respect, kindness, all of which I need show myself. When I take in my here-and-now, and when I acknowledge others around me, my being self-conscious and controlled by others subsides.
Many times, resulting from engaging all our senses during a stressful situation is a feeling of self-confidence and renewal. My mountains become molehills. My Goliaths can be conquered. I witness people around me similar to me in many ways. In fact, we, as part of the human race, are alike on many levels. Though externally, we are all unique and varied, internally, our blood is the same color, we all have hearts that beat, and we all have emotions. I have learned that no matter how attractive or confident someone appears, we all have insecurities and anxieties, fears and faults.
Another thing we can do to tackle our critical spirit is “living outside of ourselves.” Rather than exerting so much time and energy into being negative, let’s put the same amount of time and energy, if not more, into showing goodwill and love to others. Let’s start investing in others. Those of us who live as though the world revolves around us are trapped and enslaved by our egocentrism (self-centeredness). Such self-absorption is toxic in developing a healthy self-image. Conversely, the more we are others-centered, the more equipped we are in cultivating a solid self-worth. This seems to be a contradiction, yet it is very true. When we live outside of ourselves and affirm others with our time, talents and treasures, we are comforted. This is the law of sowing and reaping. When we sow seeds of kindness and kinship, we reap a harvest of love and life. As our focus becomes others-centered, our worries will wane and our despair will decrease.
Passivity breeds stagnation. Apathy propagates decay. I love these two quotes:
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” ―Albert Einstein
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ―Edmund Burke
Let’s not be passive and apathetic about achieving a healthy self-image, which is the foundation of total wellness and health. Other proactive things we can do are the same suggestions I made to overcome our anxieties and fears (please see my October 30, 2011 blog titled “Let’s Put On An Armour Against Anxiety”).
Be connected and have a solid support system
Being connected to caring friends helps us feel better about ourselves. Isolation keeps us wallowing in our misery.
Learn to affirm yourself and embrace compliments
Instead of tearing ourselves down, let’s humbly affirm ourselves and take to heart compliments others give us.
Be cathartic and authentic
Externalizing and expressing how we feel about ourselves will help us repair our damaged self-worth.
Eat healthy and exercise
Good nutrition and an active lifestyle can affect our moods and help us feel and look better.
Get good rest and relaxation
When we are well rested and relaxed, we are better equipped to combat and conquer the negativity heaped on us, whether by others or self-inflicted.
Be thankful, put on an attitude of gratitude, count our blessings
Giving thanks produces contentment and help us not to over-focus on our pity parties. Even though life isn’t perfect, let’s be thankful to be alive!
Let’s start smiling more. When I frown, I become more agitated. Conversely, when I smile, a calming effect comforts me. Plus, we make more friends by smiling.
Volunteer, perform acts of altruism and affirmation
This will help us be more others-centered, and any act of selflessness helps us feel great because it adds meaning and purpose to our life.
Cry, allow yourself to break down and be human
Like perspiration, I heard that emotional tears (tears from during times of suffering and sorrow) contain many toxic byproducts and remove toxins from our body built up because of stress.
Know YOU are not alone!
All of us, at one time or another, have suffered from a poor sense of self, even those we think have it made!
When we pray, we stop fueling our pessimism and start opening our heart, mind, spirit to optimism.
To a Healthy Self-Image!
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