Do you love and accept yourself just as you are? For many of us, it is difficult to accept our less-attractive features or character flaws. Possibly you have an idea of how you should appear based on comparisons, judgments, or a “perfect image”. Especially in our current culture of social media, superficial comparisons lead to feelings of inadequacy, which can lead to negative self-talk.
When considering personal health goals, a vital part of that journey begins within one’s heart and mind. Finding confidence and acceptance of one’s self-worth as a human being is crucial to starting and then sustaining any health regimen. Once our internal perspective is on solid ground, we can better focus on our external influences and goals. There are several avenues one can take to start the process of self-acceptance. Obstacles that can get in the way of self-acceptance are shame, doubt, delusions, and leprechauns.
Problems are just Opportunities
Before we are ever to make progress discovering the best version of us, we must first look at our imperfections or problems as opportunities to become the best versions of ourselves. How do we do this? First, we must look at ourselves honestly and not critically; second, we can accept that we are human and flawed; and finally, be intentional and realistic in our steps towards change.
- Honesty without criticism sounds like this “I have gained some weight recently due to certain habits or changes in my usual routine.”
- Accepting sounds like this, “ I am human, and not looking to be perfect, but would like to lose weight/get toned/more flexible.”
- Intention sounds like this “I’m going to achieve my goal by waking up 30 minutes earlier every day and doing 20 minutes of light exercise. I am going to keep a food journal. If I make a mistake, I won’t let it define who I am. I will own the setback, learn and move on.
The problem of shame.
Throughout our culture and society, there are continual messages conveying that we are not good enough and happiness is just out of reach. This message is rooted in toxic shame and it fuels the confusion surrounding quick-fix, fad diets, and weight loss supplements. Toxic shame prevents us from loving ourselves. Toxic shame requires identification, correction, healing, and elimination.
Here are some examples of shame-based destructive self-talk:
- “I’ll always be fat. I don’t have enough time. I’ll never be good enough. I don’t have self-control. I can’t ever get this right.
- It’s too expensive to eat healthy. I can’t believe I just ate a quart of ice cream.” When you find yourself hearing an inner-voice of judgment, contempt, self-labeling or comparison, ask yourself this question: Would you speak to a child or friend this way? If not, why are you speaking to yourself this way?
- You are worthy just as you are.
- Perfection is not the goal.
- Humans are ALL flawed, and that is OK.
You deserve to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
At this point, I will leave you with a challenge. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Go into your bathroom with a mirror. Look into your eyes and relax into your unconditional positive regard. You are worthy. You are love. The practice of positive self-talk allows us to own the changes we want to see, rather than letting them control us. I hope you continue to grow and change on your path to self-worth.
Adam Langley, MD
PremierMED | Family and Sports Medicine