Negative self-talk, comparison, judgement…They are all battles that we agree to take a part in all the time. We’re striving for a peaceful world, care about the environment and are loving to people near us, yet we are not at peace within. How many times a day do we go to war with ourselves? When we start thinking about it it can blow our minds.
It’s not our fault. The messages we get from society, with the beauty norms and unattainable standards for striving for perfection are ingrained in our subconscious. It has to be a conscious choice to stop going to war with ourselves and start a loving revolution. One that is based on self-compassion and acceptance. And it can start right now, with the next thought. Here’s how to stop fighting and start cultivating more self-peace
1. Give yourself the gift of acceptance
It is so easy to fixate on everything we have to change or make better. The harder lesson comes with giving yourself a gift of acceptance. Simply put it’s practicing accepting yourself for who you are right now. Yes, that includes all the traits that you’d like to change and all the parts of you that you struggle with. You don’t have to love them yet. Start with acceptance. Ask yourself: Can I accept myself with all those things right now?
If not, it’s ok. We’ve been conditioned otherwise for a long time. Give yourself plenty of space and compassion as you slowly soften to begin to accept your whole self: your body, your personality and your story, with all the mistakes from the past. Notice all those un-acceptable places and practice softening the space around them.
2. Practice non-violence
In Yogic philosophy one of the main Yamas, guidelines for ethical living is Ahimsa, which translates to non-violence. It means that we refrain from violence when we decide not to harm another. Cultivating Ahimsa towards oneself is just as important, for we cannot truly give peace when we don’t understand it ourselves. In our life, starting to quiet down the voice of the inner critic is a beautiful step toward nurturing non-violence. How many times a day do we hear a violent, aggressive or judgemental thought about what we did, who we are and what we can or cannot do? Next time your inner critic speaks to you harshly, take a breath, thank them (they are in your head as a protective mechanism) and let them go. Replace the judgemental thought with something more compassionate.
3. Notice the beauty
The journey of seeing our bodies as beautiful, without scanning for things that are not good enough is not an easy one. And as difficult as it is, it is also incredibly rewarding. Step by step we can change what we see as beautiful. Surround yourself with images of diversified beauty on social media. Look at your body and notice all the beauty. First, you might only notice one small part. Keep going, till it becomes natural.
It’s hard to imagine that if we grew up in touch with nature, far away from a condescending society that makes money on us hating ourselves, we wouldn’t be looking at our bodies with judgemental eyes. Next time you look at yourself in the mirror ask a question: Who benefits from me hating this body? Is it me? Surely it is not. Then start with your practice of finding the parts of you that are beautiful. That is the best peace revolution you can start!
4. Let go of the illusion of perfect
Perfectionism seems to be driving us in all aspects of life. We convince ourselves that we are supposed to be perfect mothers, sisters, daughters, partners, neighbours and employers at all times. The bar keeps rising and when we don’t complete everything perfectly, the vicious circle of judgement and shame starts.
Saying goodbye to the illusion of perfection is a great step to peace. Our need to be perfect comes from fear of judgement and seclusion. It takes courage to practice imperfection and letting go. Instead of finding ways to be perfect, or to seem perfect, ask yourself: How can I spend this time cultivating peace, instead? Instead of pushing myself further, how can I let go more? The practice takes a lot of self-compassion and humility. Next time you find yourself trapped in the perfectionism illusion, just remind yourself that nothing in nature is perfect. Eliminating perfectionism from our dictionary is a great step to reconnecting to our beautifully imperfect and authentic selves.
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