It’s a story I’ve heard so many times.
Someone loses a ton of weight and is so delighted and proud of themselves and all the hard work they put in. But then, life happens, and the weight comes back and they find themselves standing in front of their bedroom mirror feeling like a failure and wondering how they could let themselves get back here.
I can certainly relate, but over the past few years I’ve worked very hard to de-couple my body shape and size from how I measure my personal success and self-worth.
What I’ve done is work hard to cultivate unconditional self-love.
Because only loving and admiring yourself when you’ve reached or maintained a certain weight is conditional self-love.
That kind of self-love says, “When I reach X, then I will be able to love myself.”
But any love that’s conditional, is not truly love.
Any love that needs to be earned, is not truly love.
Any love that can be revoked, is not truly love.
Your health should be something you’re always working on, but it should never be connected to how much you love and care for yourself.
As long as you require that you meet certain conditions before you will admire and appreciate yourself, you will feel unloved. Because, not only will there be times when you don’t meet those conditions, but just knowing that the love could be taken away at any time means that you can never truly trust your own self-love.
Self-love must be unconditional or it is meaningless.
So, how do you cultivate unconditional self-love?
Stop Fighting Your Process
The truth is that none of this is ever going to be a linear process.
No matter how many “before and after” pictures you see online or on social media, there is no “before” and there is no “after.” Because every before is an after and every after is a before.
This is a dance. It’s a back and forth, an ebb and flow and the sooner you embrace that universal life truth, the faster you can relax into it.
Embrace the fact that, as long as you’re alive, you will be in the process of evolving. You cannot change that, but what you can do is shift your current trajectory. Start by making a detailed and specific plan for the next step you’ll take to move your dance in a different direction.
What’s one small step you can take today to start shifting your journey in a new direction?
Practice Self-Compassion Every Day
Self judgement, focusing constantly on where you think you’re “failing,” telling yourself you “should” be something or somewhere else – these are all habits. Habits that you’ve practiced for decades and have now become an expert at.
And, changing old habits requires you to consciously and consistently practice new habits.
Notice when the old, negative thought habits pop up and practice softening into compassion and kindness for yourself instead. When you notice your jiggly arms, your stretch-marked belly, your dimpled thighs, practice saying nice things to yourself about them all. Practice loving every inch of you.
Practice finding reasons to admire yourself, to enjoy your own company, that aren’t related to what you ate or how much you weigh.
Bypass The Ego
Self judgement is a very ego-driven state. The ego says that, “My happiness is all about me; only when I am perfect in all ways do I deserve to be happy.”
Bypassing the ego and finding delight and gratitude in the world outside of you can be a wonderful way to take the pressure off of yourself for making yourself happy all the time and, counter-intuitively – end up creating more joy and happiness within.
Take a walk, look around, smell the flowers, touch the trees, listen to the birds, take it all in – and smile.
Pick up a book, read an article or listen to a podcast that is related to a topic, a time or a culture that is totally outside of your normal experience.
Text a friend who’s having a tough week, volunteer your time, share information about a cause that you think deserves attention.
Turn your attention outward and notice that love, joy and delight are all around you all the time if you know where to look.