5 Steps to Conquer Self-Deprecation
I have something to say, and it's urgent. Disclaimer: the plethora of capitalized words that will appear in this piece are not meant to indicate shouting!
Fact: You are PERFECT at being YOU. No one else in the UNIVERSE can be YOU. Ever! Being YOU is the one thing in the world you are perfect at being.
More facts: We are human beings. We are brilliantly alive. We exist in fragile bodies. While we are physically fragile in contrast to say, vehicles, disease or weapons, we are internally stronger than all of those combined. We have thoughts; we have emotions; we have energy and unique human nature flowing through us. We have collected wisdom through our experiences, our traumas, our triumphs, our mistakes and our achievements. We are STUNNING. We are alive on this earth for a short and sweet instant in relation to how long mother earth has existed. We are capable of EXQUISITE accomplishments, change and radical thought. We walk amongst geniuses, healers, creators, teachers. We are all divinely UNIQUE; no two of us are the same.
Fact: As human beings we are adept at being self-deprecating creatures.
How we look…how we behave…how much money we make…what we eat…what we say…what we think…what we own…what we want…
Is there any human being on the planet harder on you than you are?
I want to devise a little equation to help negate the self-deprecating talk inside our heads. Unfortunately it's not just us…we are fighting off unconscious messages from the media, societal expectations and economic insecurity.
Let's not expect to thwart all these demons at once and instead begin with the only thing we actually have power over: ourselves.
This is my equation:
1. Do What You Love. Perfection is unattainable, flaws are part of being human, and we ought to embrace them instead of trying to erase them. All work and no play makes for a dull life, where as all play and no work makes for an unsatisfying existence. As human beings we prosper and thrive when we create something. Whether you're an artist or a lawyer, do what you love regardless of title or glamour. Just chase YOUR bliss.
2. Honor YOUR beautiful body. As human beings our physical bodies are SO vastly different, and it's a beautiful thing…yet what do we try to do? For the most part we try to all look one way. I can't speak for men, but from my perspective as a woman it seems to sound something like, "be thin, but also have curves; don't have cellulite, wear a small jeans size and have a low weight, but also but have muscle tone and definition…Oh - and don't get 'fat' while you're pregnant." It's absurd. I see bodies all day long that are beautiful in such DIFFERENT ways. I'm done trying to make mine look like anyone else’s. I admit I'm impressionable and, just as much as any other girl, have spent time wanting to look "perfect." What I now realize is how I look IS perfect because no one ELSE looks this way - therefore it's perfect in that it's the ONLY body out there like mine! The same goes for you. No one else looks like YOU. Celebrate your uniqueness. What better way to spend our time than loving and celebrating our own natural state?
3. Find physical activity that makes your body feel blissful and DO it, OFTEN. I choose yoga, and naturally want to recommend it to the world, but if it's walking for you, do it (it's walking for me too, in addition to yoga, I love walking and hiking in nature and blissfully zoning OUT!). If it's tennis, do it. If it’s dance, then dance your little heart out. Human bodies were designed to be exercised and, contrary to popular belief, that is not so we can be “bikini ready.” Our bodies need exercise so we can have healthy metabolisms, digestion, muscles, ligaments, hearts, organs, lungs, circulation and minds. Our bodies suffer without physical activity. So find what makes your heart beat, your muscles stretch, and your mind serene, and do it often. Don’t force yourself into someone else’s activities, find what makes YOU feel blissful. By using our bodies as they’re meant to be used, we become far more inclined to want to treat them, viewing them with respect and admiration.
4. Use food as fuel. Food takes on a myriad of roles in our lives as human beings. We are mammals. We must eat to live, and we ought to choose sustaining and nourishing fuel for our bodies. We also have the capacity to cook and create glorious and gourmet dishes, though, which other mammals (not unbeknownst to them, cue your sweet puppy sitting beside the dinner table begging for a bite!) do not have. Food brings family together, it varies significantly from culture to culture. It often times represents a heck of a lot more than “fuel.” It is therefore our responsibility to honor our own likes and dislikes, while still maintaining and healthy and happy human vessel. I urge you to eat what you want to eat in a balanced manner. Life is short and if you adore chocolate or steak you ought not deprive yourself. You also ought not gorge yourself on an imbalanced amount of what you love. Just be true to yourself and treat your body with care.
5. Write in a Journal. I mean it. Whether it’s a physical journal or a word document (I’m supremely partial to a beautiful, lined, tangible journal) write in a journal frequently. Use a pen you love. Maybe even create a special space or time of day to write down what you are thinking, what you’re grateful for, or the embarrassingly awful things you can’t bring yourself to speak out loud. Journaling is a powerful tool in the quest to remaining true to oneself. Writing down how you feel during sadness, happiness, confusion, elation and even the most uneventful lapses of time allows you to better get to know yourself. Documenting moments of clarity is imperative. We want to have the ability to recall our own wisdom and relive it, and journaling allows us to be accountable for how emotionally, physically and intellectually complex we are as human beings.
Naturally these are just five suggestions, but I feel they are a good start to throwing a monkey wrench in the churning gears of self-deprecation. Use positive affirmations, as brilliant Yogini and Mind-Body Therapist Ashley Turner so frequently suggests, to return us to that feeling of self-love. If your affirmations are failing you (which, if thoughtfully devised by the amazingly unique YOU, I sincerely doubt they will) then you can always fall back on this good ‘ol quote by Dr. Seuss:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”