In my self-love journey I had to learn to let go of who I thought I was supposed to be and embrace who I really am. The question I had to answer was, who exactly am I? It's crazy to think that at age 36, married and a mother of 2; there was still a part of me that I didn't know. There was something more brewing that I hadn't yet tapped into. I had done all the things successful people do. I have a great marriage, my children had all of their needs met, we were home-owners, I had a successful career and I was in the middle of my MBA program in grad school. With all of this, I assumed I was a wife/mom/business professional/grad student = successful woman. To an extent, I am still all of those things, but I still felt like something was missing. That something was a deep-rooted connection with myself. I lacked the ability to sit with myself, accept myself, and ultimately love who I am. And so, I started this journey to self-love by first looking in the mirror and forgiving MYSELF for all of the years that I told my reflection that she wasn't enough.
We cannot embrace a new version of ourselves or even invite grace into our journey without self-compassion, first. So many of us women beat ourselves up daily for not being smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough...the list goes on and on. We commit the common mistake of comparing ourselves to eachother, when what we should be doing is looking in the mirror and work on becoming the best version of ourselves because we are the only ones who can do such a thing. NO ONE can be a better YOU than YOU. So if you're going to become the best version of yourself, don't look around for comparisons or substitutes to stand in for you. It starts and ends with YOU. In order to start off on a good foot, I had to forgive myself for not allowing my mind, body and spirit to guide me; as I sacrificed healthy eating, rest, exercise, and peace of mind for success. I had to forgive myself for judging so many others for their life choices, as it was merely a reflection of all the pressure I was putting on myself. I had to forgive myself for harsh tones or loss of patience in dealing with those around me (i.e. husband, kids, family members, friends and coworkers), as my internal negative self-talk was spilling over into my daily interactions with others. I had to forgive myself for not being 'present' in the pursuit of being 'perfect'. Sounds like a lot of forgiving was going on in front of this mirror, would you agree? Does any of this sound familiar?
In The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, she talks about the need to cultivate authenticity as a means of living a wholehearted life. Brown explains that, "authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we really are". In order to put this into practice, Brown says we can make daily choices as follows:
-Cultivate the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable
-Exercise the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle
-Nurturing the sense of connection and belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough
How many things were you supposed to be, but life turned out differently? Have you forgiven yourself for NOT being all of those things? Here are a few that come to mind:
-Forgive yourself for that failing relationship or marriage.
-Forgive yourself for NOT losing those 20 lbs you said you would this year.
-Forgive yourself for NOT paying off that debt you wanted to.
-Forgive yourself for NOT handling every situation perfectly.
-Forgive yourself for that job you took, that you now hate.
-Forgive yourself for NOT taking that opportunity when it came around.
-Forgive yourself for NOT saying the right thing, all of the time.
....just to name a few.
I believe that in effort to become the best version of ourselves or master anything that we set our sights on, we have to first make sure we examine our hearts. When we forgive ourselves for NOT being all that we thought we were supposed to be, we find the courage to live in that authenticity daily as we seek to live out the purpose we were created for in the first place. But we cannot reach that ultimate level of happiness or true success without letting go of the past demands, pressures, and promises we made to the world. It will require that our ego take a backseat as we face the world again with a new heart, and the authenticity in saying, "I guess I didn't have it all figured out? What I thought I wanted, isn't so. I'm prepared to step into my new role in life, and will do it authentically and with self-compassion."
We have a right to progress. We do not have to be what we were yesterday. Every tomorrow is a new chance to be a better version of ourselves. We could be kinder, gentler. We can be stronger, wiser. We can be disciplined, discerning. We can start a new lifestyle. We can start a new practice. We can set boundaries and re-prioritize what's important to us. We can also END whatever needs to cease. We can work to end bad habits; end bad relationships, end negative conversations. We get to choose, daily, what we will and will not engage in. As you proceed on your self-love journey, understand that it's OK to let go of what you thought it was supposed to be, look like, sound like and smell like. Forgive yourself for NOT being all of those things, and give yourself permission to move forward toward a better version of YOU.
We may not have it all figured out tomorrow, but atleast we can say so authentically and compassionately. I will leave you with one last quote from Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements:
"You will forgive because you love yourself so much that you don't want to keep hurting yourself for whatever happened. Whatever happened is done and cannot be changed. And we have to accept that and keep going with our life."
Be good to yourself,