Here’s the thing: we might think we have a lot of problems in life but really, we only have one.
I recently read Louise Haye’s You Can Heal Your Life. For those who don’t know her, Louise is the godmother of self-help. She is the O.G., a visionary, a pioneer. She was doing this before Oprah was Oprah and before green juice was trendy.
She’s had a hard life, one which most of us probably couldn’t imagine overcoming, and this led her to search for some healing. And heal she did. Along the way, she realized that all of our problems in life, whether it be our bodies, our finances, our relationships, our careers, etc., essentially break down to being different symptoms of one deeper, core issue.
That core issue is that we don’t love ourselves. The deeper problem, is that we genuinely feel that we’re not good enough.
Interesting idea, right?
Think about it. What do our problems usually sound like when we think or talk about them? I’ll bet whatever your problems are, they sound something like this…
- I’m not thin enough.
- I’m not rich enough.
- I’m not smart enough.
- I’m not successful enough.
- I don’t do enough.
- I haven’t done enough.
- I don’t have enough.
- I’m not happy enough.
- I’m not good enough.
It’s always the same type of deal.
But, why? Why do we feel this way? There are many different reasons I’m sure. But what if we set aside the quest for an answer? What if we just decided one day that we were enough? What if we decided to love and accept ourselves exactly the way we are?
“But, then I’ll never change” you might think. Louise has a razor sharp response to that. Take for instance, the topic of weight. Loving and accepting ourselves as we are does not mean we don’t try to create a healthier, slimmer body, it just means that we treat the real cause of the issue first, instead of trying to mask the symptom.
You see, if you don’t love yourself now, you won’t love yourself when you reach that magical place of ‘thin enough’ either…because it doesn’t exist. There will always be another not ‘enough’ waiting for you.
On weight loss specifically, Louise says: “It’s not that you can’t love yourself because you’re fat, it’s that you’re fat because you don’t love yourself.” Yowza.
So, how do we work toward loving and accepting ourselves for exactly who and where we are in life? I mean, it’s not going to happen overnight. Well according to Louise:
Numero Uno: Stop Criticizing Yourself All the Damn Time
We start by catching ourselves as we put ourselves down and we stop it. We stop it right now.
This is where the rubber meets the road. As with anything else in life, it begins in our own minds. We can control our thoughts and the more we practice doing so, the easier it gets.
Criticism: I am fat.
Replacement thought: I am healthy and beautiful.
Criticism: I am a failure.
Replacement thought: I love and accept myself.
You don’t even have to tell anyone you’re doing this. That’s the cool part.
The other day I was hiking with JB and I started panicking about getting eaten by a Grizzly bear. Instead of allowing the usual, negative thoughts about my generalized anxiety to take over such as, “Stop it, you’re ridiculous. You’re crazy. Why are you like this? You’re so annoying.”, I decided to follow Louise’s advice.
I started repeating “I love and approve of myself. I love and approve of myself” and felt better immediately. And although I was still clutching my bear spray, at least I was no longer beating myself up about it as well. I caught myself criticizing and forced myself to stop it.
The more you practice this, the better you will feel.
Besides, if berating yourself all the time was going to help you lose weight/get rich/be happy/solve your problems, wouldn’t it have worked by now?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been doing it for years. How effective has it really been for you? Huh? That’s what I thought.
So that’s the first step. Stop beating yourself up. It’s not working. It’s not going to work. It’s only perpetuating the real problem: not loving yourself.
Step Two: Start Saying Some Affirmations
Yes, you’ll have to say some affirmations. Louise suggests mirror work, which means saying affirmations out loud while looking into the mirror. She believes affirmations are more powerful this way. You look yourself in the eye and say “I love and accept you.” Seems kinda funny but, you’d be surprised how uncomfortable this one little task can make you. Try it and see for yourself.
Aside from mirror work, affirmations are really just repeating positive thoughts with the intent to start believing them. I think we all know by now that if we hear something long enough, we’re going to start to believe it. We might as well be proactive about it and create more effective beliefs, curate a better collection. Our beliefs are what make or break our life experience, after all.
Finally: Stop Should-ing on Yourself
Louise hates the word “should” and wants us to replace it, always, with “could”. I can get on board with that.
Should means we’re wrong. Could skips the shame and implies that we have a choice. Take a look:
- We should go running vs. We could go running.
- We should save more money vs. We could save more money.
- We should lose weight vs. We could lose weight.
Could means we ease up on ourselves, release all the blame and replace it with possibility and choice. Could-ing allows us to improve and make better choices, while loving and accepting ourselves at the same time. This is ideal.
So, what do you think? Could you benefit from being nicer to yourself, creating better beliefs and giving up all the blame?
If you’re interested in reading this classic self-helper, you can snag it here.