Written by: Dr. Rosie Kuhn
I tell you, truthfully, that if all of us self-help enthusiasts would put into practice all the beautiful, inspirational advice we see on Twitter, in books and blogs, we’d put therapists, psychologist, and a lot of medical doctors out of business. I believe it’s possible that we are beginning to outsmart most mental health professionals. And as we do that, our physical well-being increase and dis-ease decreases.
The dilemma is that as much as we want to have sweeter and easier lives, we are afraid of change. And, as smart and intuitive as we are, and as much as we know, we rarely use our intelligence to choose to choose what we choose. So we hire other people and their intelligence who support us in our struggles and challenges. This is a good thing!
I have no doubt that, all of us eventually will get tired of choosing what we choose from our fear-based orientation. Sooner or later each of us will take those incrementally small steps towards the life we say we want.
So, in service to this one small, incremental step towards fulfillment of the human spirit, I began practicing a very simple exercise. Maybe you’ll try it too. And, yes. It is easy. Well, most of it!
The premise is that, so many advice-givers tell us “just love yourselves.” Well, the fact is that, most of us are so far away from self-love, we can’t even grasp the concepts. Truth is, most of us spend an incredible amount of time in the domain of Self-Loathing, where we treat ourselves with everything but self-respect, and self-respecting behavior. We gotta take this practice one step at a time. First things first:
Step 1: It’s Easy!
Acknowledge yourself every day. Come up with 10 acknowledgments for who you are and what you did today that you appreciate: for instance, last night, one of my acknowledgments was: “I acknowledge myself for playing outdoors with my dog Gracie for more than an hour.” So, just come up with 10 of those. Right them down, if you’d like.
Note here that these are not a list of gratitudes, though that can be Step 6, if you’d like. However, you may naturally experience gratitude while you are doing this.
Step 2: It’s Easy!
Come up with 10 things that you respect yourself for. For example: I respect myself for speaking my truth.” Self-Respect is really important, and exercising the muscle of mindfulness allows us to focus in on the ways we really respect who we are and what we bring to the world.
Step 3: Not So Easy!
In regards to Self-Honoring, think of 5 things you honor yourself for. Just five? Yes, for now, just 5. Self-honoring may be a little more challenging to connect with, but, again, it’s important to tap into this quality of being Self-Honoring, within your relationship with yourself. An example: “I honor myself for the daring way I explore the opportunities that each day brings.”
What helped me to make a list of how I self-honoring myself is – I thought about what it is in other people that I honor. I’ve said to various people at various times, “I honor you for….” What is it that I honor in others that perhaps I can honor in myself, if I see it?
Step 4: Challenging Question!
In what ways do you honor yourself? You may treat yourself with treats and gifts, perhaps indulge in things you’d love to have. I think this is different. For example: “I honor myself by keeping my body clean and fresh.” Or, “I honor myself by keeping fresh flowers in the house at all times.”
By asking myself this question – How do I honor myself, I notice the many ways that I am not honoring myself. This is a good thing to see, because, it allowed me to see how I may be putting other people and things above myself. Too often, I don’t take time to even do little things for myself that are part of self-honoring, such as my need to take care of my fingernails and toenails. I know that by caring for myself in this small way, it is a way to honor myself.
By asking myself this question, I have stirred the pot. Every day, now, since I began this practice I pay attention to opportunities to be self-honoring. For some reason it isn’t easy to see, or, maybe I just need to cultivate more ways of being self-honoring.
Through this process, I’ve become more self-compassionate. I see a lifetime full of honoring others above myself. There are deep feelings inside that surface through this realization. I comfort myself, I forgive myself for putting myself at the bottom of so many lists, because frankly, I didn’t know any other way to be. Now, I’m at choice. Now, I can attend to myself in ways that feel self-honoring to my heart, body and soul.
Step 5: Very Easy!
As I grow older, I realize that I love myself more and more. Even though my skin is wrinkly, my tummy more paunchy, I experience a delight waking up to another morning with myself. We (me and my body) have been through an enormous amount of life experiences over six full decades. Bringing awareness and appreciation for every aspect of me that has shown up to make that happen – well, that’s a lot.
So, rather than starting out with “I love myself for …,” Step 5 is, to just notice when you may inadvertently experience a moment of love for yourself. With time you will experience this sensation more and more often. One step at a time, one moment at a time!
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