Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Project You! Self-Love Starts On The Inside

Project You!


Week 4: Self-love starts on the inside.

Last week we looked at abandoning our to-do list, you can read that post HERE.

Today, I want to talk about self-love. It’s a phrase that many of us struggle with and one that I’ve pondered over many times. Last year I joined a slimming group in the hope of shedding the two stone in weight that crept on during the initial months of my ill health. I thought that by losing the weight, I would start to feel better about myself.

Losing weight and feeling fitter and healthier, slimmer and more energetic is a worthy goal but it doesn’t change the essence of who we are. I look in the mirror and still see the dark circles under my eyes, the stretch marks and ‘laughter lines.' Losing weight won’t change that. I just need to embrace everything as a whole – inside and out.

I have a scar on my right eyebrow, caused during a game of British Bull Dog back in the 80s. I have small marks on my face which I believe to be sun damage. My left foot is smaller than the other foot, and my right boob is slightly bigger! These are the quirks that make up who I am. No amount of weight lifting, running, clothes shopping or makeup can wipe away my unique features.

Why are we so critical of ourselves? If a loved one or friend mentioned their loathing of a misshapen nose or a sprinkling of freckles, we would be the first to tell them how lovely they are. So why can’t we turn this love around and praise our own bodies?

I was writing in my journal last night and spent a few minutes reading over old entries. I noticed how often my shape and weight was mentioned. I’d either confessed to over-eating and the guilt I felt after, or revealed my close resemblance to a homeless person as I sat in my office wearing old joggers and a tatty top! I didn’t dare calculate how many hours of my life I’ve wasted worrying about my appearance. Made all the more ridiculous when I realised that I work from home and can go days without seeing another living soul (not counting my children and a crazy kitten).

If I hope to accept myself just as I am, I need to let go of old thoughts, feelings, and expectations and embrace the forty-three-year-old Shelley.

To do this, I need to see past the big nose, wobbly thighs and back fat and look at what I’ve achieved in this body. It’s given birth to three wonderful children (worth every stretch mark). It’s taken me around the world, giving me the strength and mobility to see a host of incredible things. It’s run a half marathon in memory of my cousin.

To begin our journey of self-love, we need to begin seeing ourselves the way our friends and family do. They see our beauty and strength – don’t you think you deserve to see the same?

I receive numerous comments about my smile and yet when I look at old photos I only see faults. From now on I’m going to try and look for the good bits and dismiss any negativity. I challenge you to do the same.

Use this affirmation every morning and night when you look in the mirror.

“I love my body and cherish it every day of my life.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post.

4 comments:

  1. I've worked hard at being less critical of myself over the years. Much stemmed from poor self-esteem as a child and the evil of comparisons. I think I've learned most from trying not to compare myself with others. We're always going to notice the small things others miss, so we should try to embrace our quirks and smile :) Not easy, but doable x

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. That's the key isn't it - it's not easy, but it is doable! x

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  2. So much of her perception of ourselves as 'self' comes from the endless media drumming that suggests we are not young/thin/beautiful/lovable enough without...add product. It is endless and in time slips into our subconscious. In the case of others, the emotional/physical abuse meted out in childhood becomes part of our background. It takes enormous courage to resist the former and excise the latter. It can be done and I have huge admiration for those who do it. xxx

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  3. I don't usually teach yoga in rooms with mirrors (not by design, it's just worked out that way), but I started a new class at a school yesterday and was put in the dance studio, which of course has mirrors all over the place. I caught sight of myself mid-pose: oh Lord! I definitely need to brush up my self-love (and my hair).

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