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One of my favorite shows is Absolutely Fabulous. In one episode, Edina, whining about her weight, asks her daughter, Saffron, “Why am I so fat?” To which Saffy replies,“Well, you eat too much, you drink too much and you take no exercise.” Edina’s response? “Oh darling. Please. It’s far more likely to be an allergy to something isn’t it? Also, Sweetie, I’ve got a very heavy aura. Did you know that?”

This dovetails into my theory, that guilt, shame and regret have actual weight to them that lodges in your physical body. I think that negative emotions infuse your very cells and cause inflammation. Actually, that’s true: stress does cause inflammation.

And guilt does lead to weight indirectly. When you deny and deprive yourself because of the dreaded numbers on the scale, eventually you’ll binge. Add to that the fact that shame leads to isolation, which can result in overeating.

Now, we all know that the best way to lose weight is to stop eating altogether. Am I right? High fives all around? Of course not! That’s like doing home improvements with a wrecking ball. Small steps and healthy choices are the way to lose weight – slowly, and over time – and keep it off. Better still, learn to accept yourself as you are. Guilt adds weight to your soul. Let it go and you’ll feel ten pounds lighter.

If you’re a praying person, take it to the source and get real. Help me to do better tomorrow. Help me to see myself as you see me. Help me to be the best version of myself I can be. And do the best I can, right where I am.

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The other day, I was so productive and got so many tasks checked off my list, I felt as if I’d gotten things done. Then yesterday, I felt rudderless and got very little done. Today, I feel like I’m back into productive mode again. What’s going on?

Every day, you get a chance to start over. But each morning when you look in the mirror, a different version is actually looking back at you. When I woke up today, I realized: I’m not the same person I was yesterday. Not in the dramatic confrontation of lovers in a novel, (You’re not who I thought you were! Cad!) but in the sense that the conditions that prevailed yesterday are not present today.  

And yesterday, you had an ache, or a thing weighing heavily on your mind, or a memory that popped up that you really didn’t know what to do with. You’re dealing with a continuous flow of information and emotion.

It’s not just the data coming at you that you have to absorb, but the intention behind the actions. Is it against protocol these days to speak to each other honestly? Wouldn’t you rather know the truth than continue to pretend everything’s fine?

According to an article about communication etiquette in the modern age, these days, the iron-clad rule is: “Don’t call me before you text.” It used to be, don’t come over to the house without calling first. All of these streams of information are a lot to process and can lead to a logjam.

Take the pressure off yourself to live up to who you were yesterday. Or even who you hope to be tomorrow. Be here. Be now. Do what you can today. Then tomorrow? You’ll get the chance to figure it out all over again.

I used to have a hairdresser that was turning herself into a human beef jerky: she smoked like a chimney and tanned till her skin was like leather. Even with bad habits such as tanning and smoking, the thing that really made me feel for her was the need to slather on enormous amounts of make-up, including sparkly fake eyelashes – glued on, yet! 

When I think of the things we women do to beautify ourselves, I have to wonder if it’s all worth it.

How in the world did we begin this habit of festooning our eyes in particular? Was there a cavewoman in prehistoric times – let’s call her Marge – who picked up a piece of burnt charcoal and said, “Hey! Me draw marks around eyes! Look much pretty!”

I know for a fact that there wasn’t a tanning salon on Marge’s block. Surely no such thing as lip gloss!

Why do we go to such lengths with artificial means to achieve “natural beauty”? Is this what’s really important in life, anyway? If we’re putting our energy into hiding our blemishes and figure flaws, we might miss out on a whole constellation of blessings. Maybe it’s okay to show up, just as ourselves.

There’s a passage from scripture that speaks to me, no matter what subject is on my mind.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NIV

In this case, it’s telling me that I don’t have to wear myself out trying to be like everyone else. There’s no need to get nipped and tucked, botoxed and bejeweled. I can be who I am, secure in the knowledge that God accepts me, whatever may come.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

They don’t remember that your eyebrows weren’t tweezed. They remember how you brought them chicken soup when they were sick. Now that’s what I call a beautiful thing.

course correction

In a dream years ago, I was told that there are three keys to life:

  • Water
  • Full-body Stretch
  • Contempt

For a while, I struggled with that last one. Contempt? Why would something so negative be one of the keys to life? I assumed I must have read it wrong. Must have been “content,” as in, be grateful for what you have. Don’t be a complainer.

But it stayed in my heart as “contempt.” It took me a long time to listen, but I realized there comes a time when it’s not just acceptable, but necessary, to feel contempt.

When you’re in a situation that is unbearable, untenable, unbelievable, I can’t imagine God is sitting in Heaven, saying, too bad, so sad. It’s my will. You’ll have to endure this for your whole life.

Of course, there are times when it’s right to pray and be patient, waiting for Him to move on your behalf. But there are also times when it’s absolutely imperative to listen to your soul’s nudge, and take action.

Life after my marriage ended wasn’t easier; it was better, I wrote in an earlier post. Leaving a job that was sucking the life out of me wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but my health was deteriorating.  Careful consideration and persistent prayer made it clear what I had to do.

Some things are not open to debate. If you see a spider in the hallway, you don’t pray it out. You get it out  – of your house, right away. Why is it so much more agonizing to eliminate the negativity in our personal lives?

Leaving behind what doesn’t serve you isn’t quitting. It’s a course correction.

There isn’t a specific commandment to “Love Thyself,” because it’s implicit in “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

God created you. God loves you. Love yourself.

Don’t stay in a toxic, soul-suffocating situation if you can help it. It’s okay to say, This hurts me. I hate it. It’s got to go.

So don’t feed and water the monsters in your own life. Don’t fluff their pillows and leave a mint on the bed for them. Treat them with contempt. And show them the door.

I don’t know about you but I have a bad habit of letting my thoughts hold me hostage, especially when I mess up. Whenever something bad happens, I run through it again and again and I call myself names I would never call anyone else.

Last weekend, I got to see this in action. My husband bought me a laptop because I’m in the middle of a huge assignment. I took the laptop with me on my annual writers’ retreat. That way I could participate and still get some work done. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the first night at the retreat, I cracked the screen.

Predictably, the negative thoughts came rolling in and the big ones were “Why am I such an idiot?” and “Why does God hate me?”

On my good days, I know God doesn’t hate me. I truly know this, at least right up until the negative self- talk starts. Breaking my brand new computer promised to be one of those negative situations full of self-hate.

By the time I went to bed that first night, I was queasy and down. Fortunately, I woke up with a bit of time to spare and worked in a few prayers. “Please help me keep these thoughts at bay. In my heart, I know you love me. I just need to love myself.”

Throughout that day, I worked with the other writers at the retreat. Sure, there were a few bumps and immediately my negative thoughts tried to take control. “Why do these things always happen to me?”

But they don’t, and as soon as I remembered that I side-stepped that potential funk and was able to get on with my day, even helping a few other people wrestle with their own self-doubts. Writers are always full of self-doubt! But I know it isn’t just writers. There are so many of us who have allowed our negative thoughts to run wild.

My words of advice for you? Don’t entertain these thoughts. God loves you. Hating yourself doesn’t serve Him in any way. When self-doubt threatens to flatten you, take a few moments to bask in His Love. If you can’t do it yourself, call in a fellow prayer warrior.

As they hold you up in prayer, listen to what He has to say. It’s a message worth hearing.

–SueBE

Each month, a van full of Jehovah’s Witnesses fans out on my block, knocking on doors and spreading their gospel. I must be on their “non-compliant” list, because every one of them that shows up on my doorstep looks terrified.

“How are you ma’am…I, uh, just came by, uh, to ask a question…do you believe the Bible is the word of God?”

I had to stop him from going full-bore into his spiel; it was the humane thing to do. In the past, I’m sure I must have been prickly to them.  This time, I was purposely pleasant.

“It is the word of God, but I have my own religion.  Thank you. Good-bye.”

As I closed the door, I thought, if you really wanted to portray your religion in a good light, you’d put aside what you consider the Soul Service and come to people with Social Service.

On my block, half of the people are behind on the mortgage, many are unemployed, and some are retired and on a fixed income. 

Come to my door and say, I see you’ve got a wobbly railing here on your front steps.  I’d like to fix it for you.  No charge.  It’s part of the outreach of my church.

If you fix the railing, you can bet that when you’re done, I’m going to ASK YOU about your faith.  I want to know more about any religion that offers this kind of human-need help.

I had what Oprah calls an “Aha Moment” as well – I’ve long said that I’m one of those SBNR people – you know, Spiritual but not Religious. But thanks to these door-to-door soul-salesmen, I realized that I do have a religion. 

And it can be summed up very simply.

  • Love God.
  • Love yourself.
  • Love your neighbor.
  • Be happy.
  • Be healthy.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Keep your word.
  • No toxins.

The condensed version of this would be:  Always Do the Right Thing.

So I suppose I would have to admit that these religious people who showed up uninvited did give me a spiritual epiphany of sorts.  Even if they didn’t convert me or save my mortal soul, they gave me food for thought and some insight into my own philosophy.  And for that, I really am grateful.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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