If you are alive today, you have experienced the pain of losing something or someone you love. We are often told to hold in grief or that our sadness is ridiculous, especially if we are grieving the loss of a beloved pet or a material object like a house or car. However, in my practice, I see very clearly that unexpressed and unresolved grief causes a host of health issues, from physical issues like high blood pressure and dry eye to mental and spiritual issues like depression, addiction issues, and all-over fatigue. Needless to say, it’s critical that you take the time to fully honor the grief process. Here’s how I did it with a recent loss…I hope it helps you, too.
“I just don’t know what’s wrong with me.” “I don’t feel like doing anything; I just want to be alone.” “Nothing seems right about my life right now. My family, friends, and work just don’t seem to fit me anymore.” “My emotions are all over the place; one day I feel like crying, the next I am totally numb.” Do any of these statements sound like you? Are you in the process of a major mind, body, or life change? If so, you may be going through the “dark night of the soul.” The good news is that it’s actually a sign that you are on the right track.
Feelings of low self-worth are startlingly common. Worse, low self-esteem is at the heart of many, many of the issues, including negative life experiences or have difficult health issues, such as ulcers, kidney stones, or gaining weight in the stomach. You can love yourself and you can begin to feel better in your life and body.
You wake up in the morning, stumble out of bed, and go to the bathroom. Wiping the sleep from your eyes, you look in the mirror. “My God! I am gorgeous!” you say to yourself. “Wow! I’m practically a movie star!”
Doesn’t happen this way, you say? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
While I am being somewhat silly about the positive feelings you should have toward yourself, I am completely serious about learning to love the body you are in. Sure, you may want to change some aspects of yourself, but you can decide to love them even while you are changing them.
In fact, I wouldn’t just say that you can decide to love them, but that you need to.
By loving what you are at the moment, you begin a process of holistic change. You send out a more positive energy to all around you, which allows you to attract better people to your life. You gain confidence in yourself, which allows you to accomplish more and to stand up for yourself when you should.
In effect, loving yourself as you are at the moment is the key to changing yourself into all that you dream to be.
If you find that difficult - or practically impossible - to imagine, try these simple exercises to begin flexing that “self-love” muscle:
1. Look yourself in the eye in the mirror and say, “I love you.”
Now, this does seem easy, but it can be a horribly difficult task for some. Go easy on yourself. If, as you try this, you feel like running away or breaking the mirror, take a deep breath. Walk away from the mirror. Calm yourself for a moment. Come back. Look in your eyes again, and try, “I am okay with myself.” Once you are okay with being okay, try moving to, “I like myself.” Work on that for a bit. Finally, move to “I love myself.”
2. Change negative self-talk to positive self-talk.
Focus on how you talk about yourself throughout the day. Do you comment on your “love handles” or joke about your “batwings?” How often do you put yourself down during the day?
Don’t finish a negative or self-deprecating comment. Instead, stop yourself and change the comment to a positive one - or, at the very least, a neutral one.
Bringing your awareness to the hate you direct at yourself is a critical (and often surprising) step in developing self-love and a positive body image.
3. Dress in a way that makes you feel good.
Do you find yourself stuck in a rut of dressing in yoga pants or sweatshirts? Has it been a long time since you put any care into how you look?
If so, you are only reinforcing a negative feeling about yourself. By changing the way you dress and taking some time to look good, you will begin to take more pride in yourself.
It’s just about an instant cure to a negative body image.
Find clothes that make you feel good. Iron that shirt you love or put on those terrific heels - even if you don’t have anywhere particularly important to go. Take a few minutes to dab on cologne, put on make up, or do your hair.
It is amazing how much better you will begin to feel, and even more importantly, when you take care of yourself, you send a signal out that you are worthy of even better from life. This begins a cycle that allows you to develop a better sense of self.
Who knew that clothes had such power?
Go out and love yourself today. You are one of a kind!