Tag Archives: loving yourself

Recognize the Beauty Within

Recently a woman contacted me who is studying journalism in her third year at university in England.  She is writing a paper on facial disfiguration and asked if I could answer some questions as a body-image expert.  Below are the answers to her questions.  These answers will be helpful for whatever struggles you might be encountering in your life.  Please enjoy.

Know this: whatever your physical appearance, you are beautiful.  You can consider this to be a nice idea, but I guarantee it is the absolute truth.  If you believe yourself to have imperfections, whatever form they take, please use the questions and answers below to help you let go of those false ideas and beliefs that prevent you from experiencing the beauty that you are.  Because the experience of that beauty is the only beauty worth having.

Question:  What exactly does your role as a Body-Image Coach mean? i.e. In general terms what is it that you do?

Being a body-image coach simply means that I facilitate people’s coming to love and accept their bodies and themselves.  In a very real sense, I do nothing.  I simply facilitate the natural process that is taking place within people.  Within each individual is an intrinsic knowing, an intrinsic wisdom, that can best be described as love.  This love longs to express itself, to our own selves, as well as to others.  Unfortunately, very few people know how to access this natural love and allow it to unfold.  As a body-image coach, I simply facilitate this unfolding.  I help people connect with this beauty, perfection, love, and wisdom that is already inside of themselves, seeking expression.  So perhaps the best word to describe my role is simply that of facilitator.

Question:  What are your views on our societies obsession with being ‘beautiful’? How would you classify being beautiful?

My view is that everything in life is a gift, including that which seems horrible, awful, and incomprehensible.  The only key factor is the individual – are you, meaning the individual, willing and able to view everything that you experience as a gift?  This certainly does not mean that everything is enjoyable, or that pain or suffering should be endorsed or allowed, but it does mean that in each moment, you have a choice.  A Course in Miracles states that every moment is a choice between a grievance and a miracle.  Another way to say this same thing is "in every moment, you can make a choice between seeing life as a gift or a curse." 

So how is this relevant to society’s obsession with being beautiful?  If you suffer from negative feelings about yourself and your appearance, it is easy to blame society.  And yes, societies views on beauty are unequivocally limited, deficient, and utterly misleading.  As an individual, however, you can use society’s limited perception of beauty to your advantage.  You can use it to help you discover and experience your own inherent beauty and perfection.

Here is an example of how this might work:

  1. Let’s say you have internalized the mainstream culture’s messages about beauty.  You believe that you do not fit this standard, and are thus deficient your lacking in some way.  Simply notice this.
     
  2. Then realize that this is complete and utter nonsense.  Realize that you were born absolutely perfect, inherently beautiful, and you will remain that way forever.  Beauty is not something that you achieve because you look a certain way.  Beauty is an attribute of your existence.  You were born with it, and it always remains.
     
  3. Whenever you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, feeling like you are not beautiful enough, remind yourself that this is an illusion.  This is simply the result of growing up in a society that cannot recognize beauty and is completely deluded regarding the whole topic.
     
  4. Every time you remind yourself of this truth, and let go of the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that keep you from this truth, the closer you will come to seeing and experience the beauty that is always there.  True beauty is nothing that you achieve; it is simply something that you learn to see.

Being beautiful is simply being you.  It is being you in all your dimensions, in all your aspects, in the very rawness of your humanity.  Some days you might be well put-together; other days you might be falling apart.  Some days you might radiate health, other days you might be beset by illness.  Both are equally beautiful.  It is only the mind that divides, saying one is beautiful and the other is not.  In reality, there is only one beauty, and you are that.

Question:  Do you feel that it is unhealthy for young women to be growing up in an environment where such an emphasis is placed on image and looks?

This depends.  Would it be nice if we lived in a culture that honored everyone’s uniqueness and intrinsic beauty?  Absolutely.  The only way to create this society, however, is to start with each individual.  Learn to recognize beauty within yourself; learn to recognize beauty within everyone and everything else.  It is only by changing each individual, one-by-one, that a new society will be created that is simply an expression of these individuals steeped in beauty.

In the meantime, since we do live in a society that has a distorted view of beauty, take complete responsibility for transforming yourself.  If you are a parent, raise your children so that they know what true beauty is.  Teach them to see the beauty in everyone and everything.  As an individual, whatever your condition in life, commit unwaveringly to knowing and experiencing your inherent beauty.  As you come to know your own beauty, you will become a beacon of beauty that radiates beauty ceaselessly, slowly transforming the culture into one that is more supportive.

Question:  I have read on your website that you once struggled with body loathing. How did you get through this tough time? What advice would you offer to others in this situation?

My struggle with body loathing, and the healing process, was a process.  It did not happen overnight.  But it did happen.  And this is the most important thing for people to hear.  Freedom from body-loathing, freedom from self-hatred, freedom from suffering and un-lovability, is completely possible.  It only requires a willingness for it to end.  It might sound odd, but this willingness usually grows over time. 

The most important things is helping me to heal were professional help, yoga, and meditation.  I, myself, suffered for way too long without seeking professional help.  This is why I work as a body-image coach, to help people who are struggling.  There are also many competent therapists and healers.  The most important thing is to seek qualified professional help as soon as possible.

Equally important is learning to listen to your true self.  By the time people have reached adolescence, most people have forgotten how to listen to their own intuitive guidance.  Each person has a reservoir of wisdom inside of themselves.  It is simply a matter of learning to listen to and follow this guidance. 

Two great ways to learn how to access your inner-intelligence are through yoga and meditation.  Yoga can help you to become aware of and in tune with your body.  Your body has an incomprehensible amount of intelligence if you simply learn how to listen to it.  Yoga can help you create a collaborative relationship with your body.

Meditation is also a critical component of healing.  I cannot stress the benefits of meditation enough.  Simply practicing meditation on a regular basis helps to cleanse the mind of the negative delusions and beliefs that plague so many people.  If you are caught in a pattern of disliking your body and yourself, you are living with painful illusions.  Meditation will begin to uproot the lies you are living with and help you begin to see and experience your inherent beauty and perfection.

Question:  Obviously for people suffering from facial disfigurements and birthmarks it is not so easy to physically change their appearance. How would your five-step process to love your body and your life help them? 

Changing your physical appearance is not an essential part of accepting and making peace with your body and yourself.  As a matter of fact, changing your appearance can sometimes be a hindrance to this process of acceptance. This is not always the case, but it certainly can be. 

The five-step process outlined in Love Your Body, Love Your Life, is a process designed to help people move from disliking their bodies and themselves, whatever the reason may be, to acceptance, and then to love.  My work is not about helping people change their appearance per se.  For people who want to lose weight or improve their health, this may very well come about as a by-product of loving and accepting themselves, but it is not the point of the work.  The point of the work is to help people love and accept what is, and from that place of love and acceptance, anything is possible.

Question:  Do you think that young women suffering from facial disfigurations would be more accepting of themselves if there was more awareness of this issue, and people with the condition were being seen in the media, for example in ad campaigns?

If by more awareness you mean that there was more awareness of what true beauty is then, yes, I do think that more awareness would result in people accepting themselves more.  The key is that people become aware of what beauty is.  Beauty is not something you achieve because you look a certain way, have certain facial features, appear blemish free, whatever ideas people have about beauty.  Beauty is not what you think it is.  Beauty is an attribute of existence itself.  You were born beautiful.  Whether you were born with facial disfigurations or born as a soon-to-be super model simply does not matter.  I know this runs contrary to everything people have been taught to believe.  This is what I mean about needing more awareness about what is truly beautiful.  Every single person is beautiful because it is an essential attribute of existence, and a rose is no more beautiful than a tulip, then a daisy.  All are unique; each one is beautiful. 

If our media, advertisements, etc. begin to reflect a more true definition of beauty I think this could have a positive effect on everyone’s ideas about beauty.  If ad campaigns show that beauty comes in all shapes, forms, and conditions, there will be more awareness and people will begin to cultivate eyes that can see true beauty.

Question:  If these girls were considering surgical cosmetic treatment to effectively change what they looked like what would you say to them? i.e. Do you feel that your methods of coaching would be more beneficial?

This completely depends.  I don’t have anything against cosmetic surgery per se.  If people have a disfiguration that they really want changed, there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  However, most of the time, changing the external appearance will not improve self-esteem and self-acceptance in and of itself.  So I would recommend that if someone has a history of struggling with negative feelings about their bodies and themselves that they engage in internal exploration and healing, regardless of whether or not they decide to get surgery.  Whether or not they have cosmetic treatment, the internal exploration will help them throughout their entire lives.  After you seek professional help with a qualified therapist or comparable professional, then you can decide whether or not you want to proceed with the treatment.  This will increase the chances that you feel good with whatever decision you make.

Question:  What advice would you offer to loved ones and friends who are trying to help someone who suffers from low self-esteem regarding their looks?

The very best thing you can do is to let someone know that they do not need to live with the low-self esteem and disliking their looks.  Let them know that it is possible to feel great in and about themselves.  You can let them know how much you love and care about them.  Then encourage them to find professional help.  There are many great resources available, and good professional help and guidance can make a huge difference in their life. 

Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing. Purchase your copy and begin to love your body today.  Visit: www.sarahmaria.com, and for more information:  www.breakfreebeauty.com.
 

Self-Confidence from the Self

Self Confidence Shows!In my experience, there is only one real way to increase your self-confidence, and that is through Self-confidence.

Self-confidence, with a capital “S”, comes from focusing on the Self, your true Self, your actual Self.  Self confidence with a small “s” comes from looking for stability, safety, and security, in that which is inherently unstable, transitory, and fleeting, which is is never ultimately effective.  Let me explain…

A lack of self-confidence, or low self-esteem, comes from the ideas, beliefs, attitudes, etc. that say you are not quite enough the way you are, that something is lacking.  Perhaps you think your body is not thin enough, strong, enough, or healthy enough.  Maybe you think you are not smart enough, not fast enough, not loving enough.  Maybe you think you are too selfish, or too giving.  No matter what your particular story line, no matter what your particular perspective, you think and believe that something is wrong with you, that you are somehow flawed and lacking in some way.  This belief-system, this set of assumptions, is the result of your conditioning and is simply not true. 

You can spend your whole life working to build your self-confidence by changing certain things about yourself.  And it can feel like it is working, like you have improved your self-confidence.  The problem is that anything, absolutely anything, that you perceive of as an object is transitory and fleeting.  So you can improve your health, increase your income, experience beautiful relationships, but all of this is subject to change, and when it does, it can undermine the sense of confidence that you worked so hard to achieve.  So consider instead shifting your focus entirely.  Shift your focus from the ever-changing person of your imagination, to the Self which is immutable and never-changing.  This is the Source of true Self-confidence.

The fact of the matter is that who you are, or rather what you are, is already, has always been, and will always be perfect.  Who you are is the eternal Self, the Source of all reality.  You cannot not be perfect.  Yet in order to see this, you need to continuously shift your reference point.  You need to fastidiously shift your focus away from the fleeting and temporary “person” that you think yourself to be and shift it toward that which is eternally perfect.

Instead of constantly looking for ways to improve yourself, give up the idea that you need improvement.  Instead of spending your whole life attempting to perfect your “person”, discover that you not a person in need of perfection.  Who you are is already perfect. 

Life then becomes a practice of letting go of all the false ideas and beliefs that you carry around with you.  Just like an overweight suitcase, these false assumptions drain you of your energy, vitality, and beauty.  They eclipse the experience of your perfection. 

So if you are interested in true Self-confidence, consider this as a practice:

  1. Accept the premise that who you are, exactly as you are, is already perfect.
     
  2. Become aware of every thought, idea, belief, behavior, feeling, and perception that runs contrary, that tells you somehow you are not quite good enough.
     
  3. Practice letting go of those perceptions.  Let them go, one-by-one, staying focused always on that which is eternal and unchanging.  When you realize that what you are is already perfect, all questions of self-confidence disappear of their own accord and you are left with the ultimate Self-confidence. 

Searching for the Truth in the middle of Life before Death

When times are hard and our spirits weak how are we to bring ourselves to know that the steps we take are on the right path?

The right path, the right steps, the right words, the right actions, which way to turn, how to speak, when to take the steps.  All of our choices in life lead us either further on the path of truth or further away from our destination.

This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but to find the path of truth is to uncover the lies. Bring every aspect of life under scrutiny. Examine what you are being told, who is telling you, what you are telling yourself and the Truth will eventually be uncovered.

The Truth of Reality – how honest can we be with ourselves? How deluded do we want to remain. That is why people do not want to be faced with Truth because the lies prevent the pain of reality.

An old friend of mine this week has had a death in her family. Her elder sister’s eldest son has died at the age of 40. The man is dead. Not sure yet whether it was suicide, he was found sitting at his laptop, alone in his flat, not having spoken to his family for months. Gruesome, yes, cold, yes, reality?  The reality is the story that each family member tells surrounding his death.  Where is the Truth?

Facing responsibility, (or not), recognising our role in any given situation brings us closer to the Truth of who we are. The human condition, we are born, we live and we are all going to die.  It is how far we go in the middle bit to discover ourselves and learn what we are capable of that makes our existence worthwhile.

I am sending love and light to anyone who needs it today, to be grateful for my life and to know that I am very fortunate that I have discovered the love on the inside, which seems to evade so many people, even though it is so simple..

Love

Tamasin x

Recognize Your Own Perfection

Why a Pine Tree is a Perfect Metaphor for Life:  Reason #3

3. This pine tree is perfect; everything is as it should be.

This pine tree is perfect, not because every branch is a cookie-cutter replica of the other, not because everything is aligned perfectly, not because it is symmetrical, or anything else.  This pine tree is perfect because it has evolved just as nature intended.  The pine tree began as a small seedling, planted in the dirt.  It received the proper sunshine and protection, and, established in being, let itself be grown.  It let itself be grown by the force that animates the cosmos, and the result was perfect.

Recognize your perfection.  Just as this pine tree let itself be grown perfectly, let yourself be grown perfectly.  You are already perfect, simply let the universe carry you wherever you want to go.

Do you want to recognize your own perfection? Do you want to experience yourself as beautiful, as radiant, as divine? Check out my new audio course – I am running a special offer this week only, until July 15th. Check it out at: http://breakfreebeauty.com/awakening_the_feminine.php   

A Pine Tree: Perfect Metaphor for Life

So on my family’s property there is this pine tree.  It is called a Puzzle-bark Pine, although I don’t think that is the official scientific name. The name derives from the way the bark forms on the trunk of the tree.  Over time, as the pine tree grows, the bark begins to look like a puzzle. There are lines outlining chunks of bark, so the tree literally looks like a puzzle that has been carefully put together. This tree is majestic.  It towers so high that I can’t see the top when looking up – I imagine that it is at least 100 years old, probably more.  The branches continue up as far as the eye can see; the pine needles gently fan out from the branches, creating a canopy.

As I sat marveling at this oak tree, I realized what a perfect metaphor this tree was for life. I am going to be blogging all week about what you can learn from a tree – so check back soon for more updates!

What I learned from a Tree

1. This pine tree never tried to grow into a glorious and magnificent tree; it simply became what it was capable of becoming.  It simply manifested the potential that was inside of it all along.

Do you ever worry about having enough, being enough, or doing enough?  If so, you are not alone. Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours worrying about something.  Depending on your roles in life, you worry might sound something like this:

"Do the kids have everything they need?"
"Will I make enough money to cover my bills?"
"Did I remember to lock my house before I left for my trip?"
"Are my children safe from violence?"
"Do I have enough food to eat?  Where will I get clean water to drink?"

These concerns can be very real, and very pressing. When we only listen to the worry, however, we suffer.  We suffer because the worry begins to control our lives.
When you find yourself caught in moments of worry, anxiety, and discontent, picture a pine tree, or any object in nature that is beautiful to you.  Remind yourself: You are part of nature.  As nature grows, you grow.  In the same way that this pine tree effortless grew into what it was destined to be, simply by being, so too can you accomplish your dreams and desires by connecting with this same source of being, with this essence of who you truly are.

Are you ready to manifest the potential inside of yourself? Are you ready to become the greatness that you are meant to be? If so, check out my new audio course and learn how to soar with gods and goddesses: I am running a special offer this week only, until July 15th. Check it out at: http://breakfreebeauty.com/awakening_the_feminine.php   

Love Happens First, Greatness Follows

I spent this past Sunday with a new friend of mine enjoying an incredibly beautiful and much-needed sunny day in San Diego. It has been foggy here for the last two months, very typical of this area in during May and June, so the sunshine is a welcome change! (I have been wondering if I brought the Northwest with me during my relocation from Seattle a couple of months ago!)  That being said, I am still mastering the appropriate sunscreen-to-skin ratio and again returned home with a bit more of a pink "glow" than I had initially set out for.

As I am getting to know people and making friends in my new location, I have become very aware of what I will call the art of listening. Simply bringing your full presence and full awareness to someone else can generate feelings of love, understanding, and empathy. It is such a simple practice, but it yields tremendous benefits for everyone involved.  So this post is focused on the fact that love happens first, and that everything else then follows. And the "art of listening,"  both to yourself and to other people, can help you experience the love that is your birthright. 

Love Happens First, Greatness Follows

It is becoming well known that happiness is not something we achieve at some later date. In fact, numerous studies have been done showing that people think they will be happy when they have the perfect relationship, make a certain amount of money, achieve a certain level of success, or whatever it is they desire. It has been proven, however, that these externals have very little to do, in fact, with ongoing happiness. For example, if you were to win the lottery you might have a short-term surge in happiness, but within a year you are back at the same level of happiness you had before you won the lottery.

Most of us are born with a happiness "set-point" and external achievements won’t change it. There are many internal practices, however, such as gratitude, that can shift this set-point.  As your happiness set-point shifts, your external world will begin to improve AND to reflect your new state of being.

Now here is a very interesting piece to the puzzle:

Did you know that many of us play the same cognitive mind-game when it comes to love?  We think that when we achieve something, then we will be loveable; that when we accomplish certain things, then we will receive the love we desire.

Here’s what your internal dialogue might look like:

"When I make more money, THEN I will be attractive (i.e. loveable)."
"When I get a better job/career, THEN I will be loveable."
"When I lose weight, THEN I will be attractive."
"When I look younger, THEN I will be deserving of affection."

Here is the reality:

The reality is that Love happens FIRST.  It is not contingent on doing "x" (fill in the blanks), having "x", or being "x" in particular.  Here’s the real FACT: Love is not something that you deserve.  Love is not based on anything external. Love is an attribute of your very being; it is an attribute, in fact, of the cosmos.

And the more loved a person feels, the more likely he/she is to live a beautiful, inspired life. Love happens first, and success comes second. Love happens first, achievement comes second. Love happens first, meaningful relationships come second. The most important thing is to feel loved, to feel truly loved. Then you will feel inspired to live, inspired to love, inspired to give, inspired to be the very best you, not because you should – not because you have to – but simply because you feel loved and want to make your life a living expression of this love.

Picture a small, new baby. You don’t love a baby because of its accomplishments. I mean, really, they are usually chubby, hairless, crying little tender entities that are completely helpless. In fact, these little beings  can’t do anything at all!  They are infinitely loveable simply because they are, simply because they exist. The more loved, nurtured, and adored a child feels, the greater her chance of accomplishing her heart’s desire. Love happens first.  (It’s the same for all of us!)

So here is the question:  How do you create this feeling of being loved, both for yourself and others? Life is filled with examples of not feeling loved. Maybe you suffered childhood abuse, maybe your husband left you, maybe your wife cheated on you. Maybe your best friend abandoned you.

But NOW is the time to feel (and go after) the love that you deserve, and NOW is the time to share this love with others. Now is the time to discover your greatness and allow others to discover theirs.

Here is a simple technique that yields profound and valuable results:

Practice conscious listening.

Here is how it works:

When you are having a conversation with someone – be it parent, a child, or a partner, a friend – bring your full attention to the person and to the conversation.  It is natural and you will probably notice that your mind is constantly distracted and will tend to wander. While you are listening, you might find yourself thinking about how you are feeling, what you need to do, what you ate for lunch, etc. This is natural – so simply bring your awareness back to the other person.  Set a conscious intention to fully listen to him or her. Try actively focusing on being in the moment. Look into the other person’s eyes and make a commitment to simply be completely present and listen to what they are saying. As your mind wanders, bring it back. In this age of multi-tasking and frenzied doing, simply listening is a beautiful gift of love that you can give.

And sometimes we need to listen – not to other people – but to ourselves.  Many of us have a habit of ignoring our own needs – whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual. In fact, it takes practice to learn to listen to ourselves.

Here is another technique you can utilize to give yourself the gift of listening and create a feeling of being loved:

First, find a place to sit quietly. Close your eyes and visualize someone that you respect, admire, or love. This can be a spiritual figure, a family member, or anyone else. It is helpful to visualize a wise, loving, compassionate version of yourself to play this "listening role." Visualize this person listening attentively to everything you have to say. Be sure to check in with yourself – maybe it is your body that needs to be listened to, maybe it is your heart, maybe it is the part of you that is stressed out, perhaps that part that is lonely. Allow this being whom you have visualized to be a fully attentive, compassionate listener, giving you the gift of full attention and awareness. The beautiful thing about this exercise is that you can go to this place any time and anywhere!  Anytime you are wanting to feel loved, nurtured, and supported, visualize a loving being offering this unconditional love and acceptance. Many studies have been done showing the profound benefits of visualization on our psycho-physiology – and this is definitely worth imagining!

For those of you interested in bite-size communication – you are welcome to follow my Twitter updates: http://twitter.com/SarahMaria

Peace, Love, and Beauty.

Be Happy Now!

What I’m about to reveal to you here may possibly be the biggest secret creating to your ideal life EVER.

Are you ready for this life-changing secret that can help you create your ideal life? Make sure you’re sitting down for this because you’re not going to believe how simple it is!

Here it is: BE HAPPY NOW.

I told you it was simple!!

Let’s face it, the reason most of us want anything in life is so that we can be happier or reach that state of eternal bliss and happiness. Think about it: Why do you want that million dollars? Perhaps so you can quit your job and travel the world, and be happier. Why do you want a fulfilling relationship with your ideal partner? So you can be loved and accepted for who are, and be happier. Why do you want to open that art gallery you’ve been dreaming of for years? So you can express your natural talents and gifts, and be happier.

The truth is, no matter how you break it down, the reason most of us want to create or attract anything in life is to ultimately get to a place of pure joy and happiness. It doesn’t really even matter what you want, because everyone has different wants and desires. Eventually, though, all anyone really wants is happiness, plain and simple. Happiness is always the treasure at the end of the rainbow!

Problem is that most of us condition our happiness on something outside of us. We think we can’t be happy until we get the fast red sports car, or the prestigious job, or the adorable children, or the muscular toned body, or perfect skin, or whatever. Society basically trains us from a very early age to believe that happiness is only accessible to us AFTER we’ve attained something on the outside. And the sad part is that many of us never get to that place of eternal bliss and happiness we are all searching for because a) we never accomplish the goals we think will make us happy or b) if we do achieve those goals, we quickly come up with new ones and condition our happiness on achieving those goals. It’s a never-ending battle, really!

But what if we just bypass all those goals and external things all together and allow ourselves to just be happy now! I came to this conclusion a few weeks ago in my own life and remember thinking how life-altering and mind-blowing this was. I was mentally going through my daily list of things to be grateful for and was repeating the same things I have said to myself numerous times: "I’m grateful for my cute condo. I’m grateful to have money in the bank and live in a great city. I’m grateful to have friends who enjoy doing the same activities as me," etc. etc. etc. All of a sudden, though, it occurred to me that even as I was grateful to have all these wonderful things in my life, I wasn’t necessarily any happier, which is my ultimate goal (and I’m guessing it’s yours, too).

So I decided to just be happy now! I decided to be happy to be alive, to be able to breathe the air that I breathe, to be able to drink a cup of coffee when I wake up in the morning, or to have clean clothes to put on every day. Don’t get me wrong, it can take a little conscious effort to get to this place… but once you do, it is so rewarding! Abraham Lincoln said, "Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be."

The funny thing is, not only will you already be happier but you will actually begin attracting to you those things you thought you needed to be happy in the first place. Because you will already be happy, your attitude towards those things will change and relax, making it much easier for them to flow into your life. You won’t need those things to be happy anymore, and once you release your need and desperation the Universe will have a much easier time delivering those things to you. The truth is, the Universe is practically "beating down our doors" trying to deliver our wants and needs to us. Unfortunately, though, we are usually in such a state of need, desperation, anxiety, etc. that we are unable to allow those things into our lives.

My advice to anyone trying to bring more happiness into their lives today is to just be happy now! Don’t condition your happiness on anything outside of you, just decide right this minute to be happy. Get yourself into a state of pure bliss and just be happy now! 🙂

A Powerful Self-Love Exercise!

I first learned about this exercise last year when I was attending Jack Canfield’s Breakthrough to Success conference in Scotsdale, Arizona. Most of you will be familiar with Jack Canfield as one of the co-creators of the mega-popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Jack is phenomenal, and if you ever have the chance to see him speak live or present at a conference, I highly urge you to take that opportunity! Jack taught the following self-love exercise, and does it himself on a daily basis. This was the one piece of homework we absolutely had to do every single night of the conference. I figured if someone as successful as Jack Canfield does this every day, then I should do it too! I’ve since seen variations of this exercise in several popular self help books, including Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life.

The exercise is called The Mirror Exercise, and you’ll understand why. Every night before you go to bed, preferably after you’ve washed your face, brushed your teeth, put on your pj’s, etc., find a mirror in your home that you can stand in front of undisturbed for a few minutes. If you’re married or have a roommate, you’ll want to ask them to give you a few minutes to yourself because you should do this exercise alone to get maximum results. So find a mirror, either in your bathroom or bedroom, and stand in front of it by yourself.

For the first few seconds, just stand there and really look at yourself, deep in your eyes. Chances are you’ve never done this before, so it will probably feel very uncomfortable or awkward, and you may find yourself turning away from the mirror! Rest assured that this is normal, and simply direct your gaze back to your eyes and send yourself as much love and acceptance as you can. Really look at yourself and see what you look like to the outside world. Look at your eyes, your skin, your forehead, your nose, etc. and if you’re standing in front of a full-length mirror look at the rest of your body, too. (If you’re brave enough to try this exercise naked, go for it! But it’s not required to get powerful results…)

After you’ve really looked at yourself for a few seconds, say out loud to yourself "I love you" and then your full name. So for me I would say, "I love you, Mary Knebel." Again, you are saying this out loud, and this may bring up uncomfortable feelings. Do your best to just stick with any feelings that come up, whether positive or negative. They are just feelings and you can accept them and allow them to be.Then you want to reflect over your day, and think of things that you are proud of yourself for accomplishing. These can be big or small things, but aim to find 5-10 things that you did during the day that you can appreciate yourself for. Here are some examples, "I’m so proud of you for eating a healthy dinner." "I’m so proud of you for finishing the memo you said you would finish." "I’m so proud of you for reading the kids a bedtime story before bed." You get the idea! The idea is to acknowledge and appreciate yourself for things you achieved during the day. Again, aim for 5-10 things and remember you are saying these things out loud to yourself!

While continuing to look at yourself in the mirror, flow love and compassion towards yourself as best as you can. Now you want to find things that you love about yourself and acknowledge those qualities. For example, "I love that you have such pretty eyes." "I love that you are such a loyal friend." "I love how creative you are." "I love how toned your arms are." You can focus on things you love about yourself that are either physical characteristics or that have more to do with who you are as a person. The key is to find things about yourself that you can truly love and appreciate and acknowledge yourself for.

Finally, to finish this exercise, look yourself deeply in your eyes for a few more seconds and then say out loud one last time, "I love you" and then your name. So for me it would be, "I love you, Mary Knebel." Really be with any feelings that come up, whether positive or negative, and just allow them to be there. Loving yourself means loving ALL of you, feelings and all.

And that’s it! As I mentioned above, this will probably feel uncomfortable or even awkward the first few times you do this. However, I guarantee you that this is normal and that you will get over it if you keep practicing! Here’s the catch: You should do this for 40 days straight, without skipping a day. If you skip a day, start over from Day One and do the 40 days all over again! After 40 continual days this will become a habit in your subconscious mind, and you will notice how much better you feel about yourself and how much more comfortable you are in your skin. The world will seem to become a much more loving and accepting place towards you, but in fact it’s your thinking that has changed the world around you. Remember, your thoughts become your reality… so the more loving thoughts you have within, the more loving the outside world will be towards you. Give this exercise a shot, and let me know how it goes!

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