I’ll share a secret with you today. I am guilty of holding unrealistic and impossible expectations for myself, especially going into the New Year.
I’m sure no one else has ever struggled with this. All those post-holiday feast gym and exercise equipment commercials, ads for make-up and cars and medication and whatever else really leave a girl feeling inadequate.
I’m challenging you to take on a different kind of resolution this year. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to love and accept yourself as you are. Easy, right? Well, maybe not in the face of all the aforementioned ads…
So how do we go about this strange mission of unconditional love and acceptance for oneself?
“I’m challenging you to take on a different kind of resolution this year. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to love and accept yourself as you are.”
Accept that you know what you want for yourself. Most clients I work with as a therapist come in asking me to decide for them what their ‘problem’ is or what they should do to ‘fix’ themselves. Some newbie therapists will go right ahead and answer this question. For any therapists reading – this is a trap. Do not do it. The fact is, most people enter into therapy with some idea of what they think needs to change in their lives. It is the therapist’s job to support the client in acknowledging and voicing these thoughts. These clients are looking for their therapist to confirm what they already feel is a necessary change. A common way to get to the heart of the issue is to ask the ‘Miracle Question,’ which tends to go something like this:
“Suppose you go home tonight, get into bed, and fall asleep. In the middle of the night, a miracle happens and all the problems that brought you here today are solved. But, since you were asleep, you don’t know that the miracle happened. When you wake up the next morning, how will you start to notice that the miracle happened? … What else are you going to notice? What else?”
Once you know what you want then you can go after it.
This helps the client visualize the end game, by which I mean their goal for treatment. Now there is a specific desired lifestyle or way of being that the client has put into words. From there it’s all about laying out a timeline or building blocks for how to get to that way of being. Once you know what you want then you can go after it. This exercise is intended to give hope and a sense of empowerment.
People I work with tend to have things that they want to change but I encourage them not to sacrifice the present for the sake of how things might be or could be in the future. It is important to balance the acceptance of our present self with acknowledgment of our future potential. The miracle question is not meant to be limiting as in “I’ll only be happy when…” There are small things that you can start today to improve your view of yourself and the world. Find the positives in everyday life by practicing gratitude. Keep a bullet journal of happy memories from the day and moments, favors, or people you appreciate. Consider completing a gratitude meditation during the day. Check out these three options from Mindvalley Academy.
“Over-analyzing our every misstep throughout the day is not productive.”
Be kinder to yourself. This starts with satisfying your basic human needs for food, water, and sleep. I’ve definitely been known to forget to eat all day and, when I get home, I am pretty cranky. So please eat something! But being kinder to yourself is a bit more complicated than just avoiding starvation. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I sometimes have challenges due to symptoms of anxiety. This can cause me to be unnecessarily harsh on myself if I make a mistake or have a rough day at work. Over-analyzing our every misstep throughout the day is not productive. Or, maybe it is, but it will only produce more stress and negative feelings. As Elsa said, “Let it go.” Imagine you are talking to a close friend or relative who made the same mistake as you. Would you be trash talking them or giving them a hard time? Well, I hope not! Chances are that you would be highlighting their strengths and building them up. Do the same thing for yourself.
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