What does it mean to love yourself? I feel like I’m on a cheesy Jenny Craig commercial … but, seriously, what does that look like? Back in my old yoga cave, my teacher was pushing us to love ourselves in every pose. I gave myself a couple awesome-sauce-pats-on-the-back until I attempted an inversion, knocked my water bottle over and thumped onto the ground. I didn’t accept the failure very gracefully. I sighed, frustrated that I didn’t stick it. Then I got mad at myself for being frustrated, which totally defeated the entire purpose of the exercise. Welcome to my life (can’t shut it off).
I got home and accomplished some more overthinking (yay me). If I can’t love myself in yoga as part of an exercise, how am I supposed to accomplish this in real life? Because believe me, I’ve tried. Also (just to tack on another question here), how do I love my body when it doesn’t cooperate? Because it doesn’t. A lot. And not just when I try to do an inversion, but for basic stuff like breathing comfortably. Inversions happen on “good days.” I always want to do AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE on the days I feel decent. I put more pressure on myself on those days because I don’t know how often they are going to present themselves.
I don’t know about you, but I personally eat a lot of bread with peanut butter when I reflect. I like how it sticks in my throat and I can’t swallow it down very easily. I work out my thoughts, while I work down my peanut butter. So, as I was struggling with a particularly big bite I realized what made the peanut butter go down easier (besides milk). When I relaxed and stopped swallowing incessantly I made a lot more progress. Worked like a charm. Now ultimately this isn’t my goal because I like battling nut butter, BUT a lightbulb did go off: I needed to just. let. go.
Yeah yeah, you are thinking. But hear me out. You can’t force self-love. It’s not like slicing bread or memorizing a speech. I think it’s a passive process. My problem is that I always develop a plan of action. First I’m going to fight every negative thought with a positive affirmation … then I’m going to write down what my strengths are … finally I won’t use humor to deflect my insecurities … you get the picture. I could probably make some sort of portfolio of all my plans, including a lengthy section on how to love your body despite its shortcomings.
Clearly the plans of action aren’t working. So what am I going to do instead? Not a lot. I am, however, going to take a deep breath (even if it’s uncomfortable) and let my mind calm itself. I’m going to accept that there isn’t a checklist that will lead me to a place of self-love. I’m sure I will fight against letting go. But that’s fine … to be expected, in fact. I’m just going to try to “be.” And I think, for now, that’ll be okay.