You know those days when you just feel like shit? Where you look at yourself and wonder where the old and better you went? Or you think about how much better you could be? Or how you wish you hadn’t eaten that extra slice of pizza last night…
I know those days, because I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be perfect but equally I don’t want to feel the way that I do on those days, heavy, shoulders slouched, eyebrows creased, the lethargy the lack of energy or zest for anything and everything.
Being out of my routine during my travels has taken a toll, I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be exploring and delving further into my yoga and different cultures but am equally feeling out of sorts in my body and my mind. The copious amounts of tapas, rice, pizza, pasta and potatoes that I’m eating is also not doing any favours to my waistline or my mindset and is definitely not giving me the nutrients I need to feel energized and healthy. And you know what? That’s my choice to make, and I choose to experience these wonderful cultures and cuisines while I can.
What I do have a choice in however is how I choose to think about myself in order to feel balanced, courageous and happy. All of these things are directly affected by my ability to love myself – which I’m learning to do, day by day, and which copious amounts of pasta should not affect.
When we were in Spain I pulled out my gorgeous wrap-around thigh split dress (which I had been waiting to wear out properly for a while), which would usually make me feel really sexy and happy. But when I started to tie it up and feel the way that my body fit into the dress I immediately started thinking about how much I’d eaten that day, how tired I was and how very un-sexy I felt in that dress at that very moment.
My thoughts were violent, and not in the traditional sense of violence but they were self-harming, unhappy and unhelpful and they certainly didn’t put me in the right mindset that I needed to go out and have a wonderful time enjoying the local cuisine and exploring the dimly lit streets of the stunning town we were in.
You may think that my statement above is harsh, or too strong, particularly because I used the word ‘violent’ but I’ve been reading The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele and the section on Ahimsa (non-violence) has asked me to consider whether I can be the best version of myself if I am continually beating myself up about all of my flaws or perceived flaws? No I can’t. And if I can’t love myself and treat myself with respect and dignity then how can I possibly treat others that way?
The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele quotes “Our ability to stay balanced and courageous has much to do with how we feel about ourselves.”
In order to achieve whatever perceived success we believe we ought to in this life it first starts with mastering the art of loving ourselves. Because only when we truly love ourselves can we begin to love our lives and others around us. And when we feel great about ourselves – as the quote says above, our ability to tackle all obstacles in life in a calm, balanced and courageous will enable to be truly happy with everything that we achieve.
I’ll admit the practicalities of non-violence or ahimsa are hard to master, particularly the art of non-violence towards yourself but is something that we need to be so conscious of.
So how can we practice non-violence towards ourselves? Well the first step I took on that fateful night as I walked out the door feeling horrible was I looked down at myself with no mirrors in front of me and I suddenly realised that the only reason the dress didn’t fit me properly was because my mind was telling me to feel uncomfortable in it. The dress covered everything it needed too, it wrapped around my body the way it always had, and when I stopped playing around with it every step that I took I realised that I actually looked quite sexy with my thigh showing with each step and reminded myself that it was meant to fit that way. Sure the models whose pictures I see in the dress wear it well, but that’s because they OWN IT!
I thought to myself “I am sexy, and I am lucky to have a body that is healthy and can heal and actually, my body is pretty damn good considering the change in diet and exercise I’ve had.” I couldn’t help but smile, my small little pep talk was just what I needed to shake my bad mood and remember that I AM sexy, and there are plenty of people in this world who I’m sure think so as well (starting with my partner).
So this spring summer season – don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let the thoughts of the impending ‘bikini weather’ or guilt or self-consciousness take over.
As soon as I started owning it, it felt so much more comfortable not only in the dress I was wearing but in my own body – this is what we should be like every damn day. Our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never stay the same so go with the flow of life, as long as you feel healthy and happy that is the best that you can ask for right?
Owning the way you look and either a) making a positive lifestyle change to FEEL healthy (looking healthy does not make you feel any better) or b) stop beating yourself up about the way that you are meant to be and look is the first step to making a change. It takes time and confidence to believe that you are beautiful just the way you are but it also takes dedication to the art of thinking great things about yourself, because let’s face it – it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us.
The benefits you will see and feel immediately – every single time you think ‘I look amazing in this’ or ‘I love the way I look and feel today’ you will start to believe it and those beautiful thoughts will soon start to become things like ‘I am the right person for this job, I will get it’ or ‘I will take that leap and be successful at something I’ve always wanted’. These self-affirmations are the difference between a confident, happy and energized person and an unhappy, self-conscious, guilt ridden person. Practicing positivity every single day and banning the ‘violent’ thoughts from your mind and your life (and that includes anyone who puts those thoughts in your head) is the best thing that you can do to change the life that you are living.
So go on and give it a go – it’s perfect timing for summer.