No matter how much spiritual practice, self-improvement, or therapy we’ve been through, there is one area where many of us still find ourselves challenged every day: self-acceptance. It seems all too easy to fall into the trap of judging ourselves as inadequate, finding fault with our achievements or our bodies, and believing our self-critical inner voices that insist we’ll never measure up. Self-respect, it turns out, is not narcissism. Instead, self-respect helps to build the confidence and capacity to create the life you want. And since you’re the only person who’s been with you from the day you were born, and is guaranteed to hang in there with you to the day you die, it might be helpful to practice the art of being a good friend to number one.
I read an interesting story in Psychology the other day. It was about the dysfunctional relationship that so many women have with their bodies, and referenced some research on marriage done by Drs. John and Julie Gottman. They found that “successful” marriages generally have a ratio of five to one positive to negative interactions. What would happen if we applied that science to our relationships with our bodies? For every negative thought we have about our bodies, we have to think of five positive things about it. For those ladies who reported the average 13 negative body thoughts, that’s 65 positive body comments each day. Could you do it? I’ll leave you today with this clever, appropriate poem from none other than Dr. Seuss:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.