It’s a spiritual truism, running through the great religions, alternative spiritual paths, even psychological health approaches: accept (even love, if you can) yourself…as you are right now. Accept, embrace, love, and be kind towards all that comprises the one known as “you.”
That being said…most all of us have things we would love to change about ourselves. Sometimes big things, sometimes little things. We want the “more,”–even if we have been lucky and wise enough to move beyond wanting that more to be about things “out there”; the material things. For some, it might be as basic as something like ditching too much time in mindless internet or television. For others, there may be more consequential issues, such as a problem with rage or low self-esteem. And often for those on a spiritual path, there can be feelings of never being quite satisfied with ourselves due to a keen sense of ideal qualities for which we yearn.
So, all the while accepting that you are fine and precious and wonderful just as you are NOW, I offer a humble cheat sheet of ways to–hopefully–finally–be able to implement some of those changes you dream about. These are in no particular order, so let’s just dive in. And don’t expect yourself to do them all—this is a pick-what-sings-to-you-and feels-like-the-missing-piece(s) list!
- Support, support, support! I am really big on the buddy system, support groups, and/or getting yourself to a paid helper (coach, therapist, psychic, organizer, nutritionist) both for the sweet energy of support and the more defined energy of accountability. I think we often need both of those qualities; the yin and the yang of having both empathy from and responsibility to someone else can be magic. The choices are endless. A truly supportive pal in the same boat is great, 12-Step programs are life saving for some, and there are other free options (sometimes a MeetUp group, or the numerous online approaches). Or start a group yourself! If you can afford it and it’s appropriate to your goal, I do recommend professionals (such as above) of course, too.
- Hydration, and proper nutrition. I am amazed at how often people try to push through obstacles mentally or emotionally without having the support in their bodies to make that happen! Again, there are a multitude of ways to get knowledge and encouragement about this (books, internet, friends, & nutritionists, for example). Some of this is basic stuff you know. Water, for instance, makes a huge difference. Are you drinking one to two quarts/liters daily? You’d be surprised what this alone can do for your drive, mental clarity, mood, and motivation.
- Breathing. Now here is another biggie. Are you making time and space to breathe deeply every single day for a few minutes, or every single hour for a minute even? This realigns you with your Self, your Center, your goals, and focuses and calms the ever-distracted-21st-century mind. You can do this with no instruction whatsoever, or search out a guided recording or written instructions on various breathing techniques.
Help Someone Else. If you are in a helping profession or tend to over give, you may bristle at this sugestion or feel overburdened just by the thought. If so, this one is probably not for you. But it can be surprising how helping a friend in need, or volunteering somewhere, can really start your energy moving. There is so much need in the world, and putting yourself in the thick of that can bring things into a new perspective and a brand new flow. Realizing you have the power to help others can get you out of yourself, being hung up on your issues, and the perception that you are powerlessness to change your own life.
- Meditate…in your OWN fashion. Meditation for you does NOT have to be sitting quietly on a cushion watching your thoughts! I know many great people whose lives are changed by such practices. I, on the other hand, no can do. This is one of the things I love about working with my clients. I am ever amazed at what “comes through” as just the right process or technique when needed. Your ideal empowering yet soothing meditation might be (as above) just breathing, could be a guided meditation that gives you strength, hope, or sweet support, or might be moving your body through chi kung, yoga, or even sweaty exercise. Find what FEEDS you and notice how doing more of that allows you to relax into the changes you seek in other areas.
Creativity and Play. There are plenty of studies showing that those who play or engage in creative outlets get things done more readily in areas that are difficult for them. I see it as a kind of crowbar effect—it pries you up in one area to get some traction for another area of your life. Figure out one or two or more options that work easily for you and engage. You don’t need to go buy a hundred dollar easel nor join a soccer team to start.
- Don’t torture yourself! Be compassionate with your slips and setbacks. And, only try to change one behavior at a time. Please please please just pick a single new idea from the list for this month. And if you care to add more, do one per month; no sooner. It’s well known that the best way to slip back in defeat is to try to add 5 new behaviors all at once. Slow and steady wins the race…this gives you time to make the changes more lasting and also find any impediments that arise, and strategize on how to solve those.
And let’s not forget: Love, love, love yourself (or at least accept!) for who you are right now. You are one of many millions of people struggling with life’s lessons in an imperfect world. We come full circle to our starting point here: to change you have to start right from where you are.
If, by the way, one (or many) of your so-far-unreachable changes is to do the very something above (love yourself, be more creative, eat better) where you’ve long struggled, don’t worry about that one. Take another one from the list as your starting point. Get the support system or breathe more or hydrate or find a meditative practice that you just love to death and wouldn’t miss for the world. Don’t get caught spinning your wheels in the very area(s) where you couldn’t change before.
Let me know below what you want to try, what helped you to read about here, or other ideas that work for you. Good luck and have fun watching the changes!