Monday, March 11, 2013

Accepting yourself

"I accept myself unconditionally right now." This is the quote that stuck most in my mind from a documentary I watched this weekend (Hungry For Change, currently available on Netflix). It was said by Louise Hay, who is an insightful lady who has written a host of self-help books. She uses it as a prescription, and I have decided to take up her challenge.

Look in the mirror (1)
Stand in front of the mirror twice a day (I plan on morning and evening), look yourself in the eyes, and say, "I accept myself unconditionally right now." Then wait. Soon you'll hear it. The negative voices in your mind will comment on your weight or your complexion, your hairstyle, your eating habits, or whatever else they can pick on. Just listen for a moment, and don't condemn the voices. Then turn away and go on with your day. It is suggested you write or print out the words and stick them up on the side of your mirror so you see them all the time.

Ms. Hay says that about the 28th day, something wonderful happens. The view you see changes. The voices fade. I have no idea if it's true, but since it's both free and relatively easy, it seemed that it was a positive and affirming thing to do.

I started last night. As I got ready for bed, I popped in for my nightly routine in the bathroom.  I stuck up my little card with the words written in purple sharpie. My mirror is small, so I taped it to the wall at my eye level. I steeled myself, because these kinds of things are never all that comfortable.

Look into your own eyes (2)
I've done exercises like this before. In Seminary, we started out the first class of our first year by walking around the room, mingling together, pausing every few moments to clasp hands with a random person and look them directly in the eye. We said, "I see you, (name)!" They would say, "And I see you, (name)!" in return. It was also the last exercise we did in the last class of Seminary, and the differences were huge. My comfort level had changed dramatically, both with myself and with the others in the class who had made it to the end of the journey with me.

That was different, though. I was looking into the eyes of people who were there to hold me up. There isn't much point in dragging down fellow Seminarians, after all. You're there to support one another. I am my own worst critic, though, and the thought of having to look myself in the eyes made me shiver. I did it, however.

It's not comfortable (3)
I looked up into my own eyes. I stumbled through the words. Then I waited. It was a dismally short wait, of course. I'd say I lasted maybe two seconds before I began to criticize myself. I didn't mean to, but my inner voices immediately noted the dark circles under my eyes, and that my complexion is currently not the best. I let them natter on for about 30 seconds and then smiled at myself and went off to bed.

This morning, I repeated the exercise. I'll continue to do so twice a day for 30 days, and see what happens. I don't believe the blessed silence lasted much past the two second mark this morning, either, but I knew I was resolved to do it and it had an energy to it that last night's practice did not.

I encourage you to join me in 30 days of self-appreciation. Remember that accepting yourself unconditionally doesn't mean you can't be aware of flaws that need to be improved on. I know I need to lose weight, and I accept that. It doesn't mean I have to like myself or accept myself any less right now, though. So, do you think you can make it through 30 days of this?

Check back often for book reviews, prayers, ceremonies and more. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! You can follow the blog via Network Blogs and Google Friend Connect. If you purchase items I have linked through Amazon or the ads on my site, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site!
You may also be interested in:

Mother Teresa
The Silence
Women in Shawls

1) Image by Kenn W. Kiser / morgueFile
2) Image by Iván Melenchón Serrano / morgueFile
3) Image by Charmaine Swart / morgueFile