Recently, I've found myself thinking a lot about Stuart Smalley of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s. Even though his sketches aren't terribly known, one of the taglines has stuck with me all of these years: "I'm good enough, I'm strong enough and doggone it, people like me!"
Part of why it stuck is because it boils down the idea of self-love to be SO simple. It may sound silly, but it all comes down to this word enough. Self-love is not narcissism, but an essential acceptance of ourselves: We are enough.
This Valentine's Day, I will be doing a yin teacher training and spending time with myself in quiet to nurture the spaces of myself that I all too often give away. In anticipation of a day dedicated to love of all forms, I thought I would review the mantras that work for me when I am down on myself. Knowing that man means mind, and tra means instrument, remember that any positive expressions that resonate for you can work.
1. I can.
Whether it is a yoga pose or a work presentation, there are times in life when we become absolutely certain that failure is the only option. The challenge to this mantra exists when you become absolutely convinced that something is impossible. Ironically, if a good friend told you she absolutely couldn't do something, wouldn't you would shake your head in disbelief?
That's why this mantra is so important: it retrains your habit to believe in failure first and foremost. You give yourself room to breathe in order to remind yourself that you can do things beyond your imagination, even when your intellect is telling you "no." If you can imagine it, it is more than possible. Be your own dependable, compassionate friend.
2. Loosen the grip.
Imagining what might have happened if your past relationship hadn't crumbled is futile. The same goes for ruminating about how much better your life would be if you hadn't gone into a meeting with kale between your teeth. Often, we hold things that don't go exactly "our way" too close to the heart, over-analyzing them, as if they need to be rehashed in order to be fully understand.
This mantra may not take a past event out of your subconscious, but it will remind you this: what happened is over. You are here now. And you can be as human as you allow everyone else around you to be. I love visualizing the act of letting go with the breath: Inhale with "let," exhale with "go."
3. My love is my love.
This was inspired by a mantra one of my students actually taught me in my teacher training. Think about it: we all have a lot of love in our hearts at any one time to give. But love is a power, and is one that exists in limited quantities. In other words, love isn't to be taken for granted or misdirected! Rather than mindlessly pouring out your love in any and all directions, keep it contained. Keep it yours.
Every time you find yourself being hard on yourself, think this mantra, "My love is my love." Feel a deep sense of compassion pour through you. When you are in a yoga class and you find a thought come up along the lines of "You weak, pathetic person, why can't you do this?" it is time to own your love as what it is — really and truly yours. No one else's.
I may love this one because I am a passionate foodie, but also because it is also a simple Sanskrit mantra This mantra taps into the heart center and it is easy to chant, with a long emphasis on the "m" as you would if you were chanting "Om" at the end of a yoga class.
If you ever have a day where you are way more in your head than you are in your heart, this is a simple way to retrain your heart and bring it back into the game. This will allow you to feel more connected with other beings and be more careful as to whom you direct your love toward. Plus, how cool to be able to say "Yum" in response to your life? Because that's what life should be: something to relish!
5. I deserve.
Whenever you give an excuse for why you don't have time for yourself, this is a good one to repeat. You deserve to have the things you want. You deserve a bubble bath in the middle of the day. You deserve the best cup of tea you can find (with time to drink it). Whenever you find yourself justifying the fact that none of your time is indeed your own, retrain yourself: I deserve. Here's the hard part: you have to believe it.
Taking deliberate steps to honor your self-worth may feel kooky at first, but I really do believe in the power of always having your own back. We cannot receive what we do not give and by giving ourselves the best of ourselves, the universe may respond in kind. It sure beats a box of chocolates.
It's not too late to join Courtney for the meditation challenge at tuja wellness.
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