It’s interesting how we tend to place conditions on our love and acceptance of ourselves. We can love and accept ourselves if we lose weight, or achieve our performance goals, or look great on the beach or excel in business. Our value is tied to WHAT WE DO, what we achieve, rather than WHO WE ARE.
We place enormous pressure on ourselves to constantly be on top of our game. If we miss a workout, or eat that piece of cake or take our foot off the gas in any way, we berate ourselves, convince ourselves we’re incapable and not even worth the effort. Exercise and healthy living becomes a condition we place on ourselves, a kind of high stakes ultimatum:- I WILL LOVE AND ACCEPT MYSELF IF I DO/ACHIEVE XY AND Z. No one can handle that pressure:- exercise, and often diet may become an unhealthy obsession or alternatively, something that is unattainable, something ‘we’re not worthy of’ and we give up on it.
It’s hard for us to accept that we are amazing; perfect just as we are. It doesn’t matter what we look like, how big or small we are, what we do or what we don’t do, who we are is absolutely perfect. Sure, we may need to learn how to make better choices- the bad choices we make are often the result of our own self-loathing. But we cannot move ahead when our self-love and acceptance is conditional to the choices we make. Healthy choices need to be made out of a place of unconditional love, to nurture reward and grow us ( not a condition of self-acceptance). What we do or achieve as a result is an extra bonus, the cherry on top, not the driving force.
Self-love and acceptance is something we all grapple with to a greater or lesser extent, I know I do. I sometimes question whether my exercise and lifestyle choices are born out of love for myself or a fear of losing my own identity and self –worth. I guess it’s a bit of both. I don’t have the answers, but for me, learning to affirm myself by practicing daily; reminding myself to celebrate the small victories; to be aware of the times when I criticize myself harshly; making conscious choices to engage in activities I enjoy and to surround myself with people that love me and accept me, friends, family, is helping me grow.
I think learning to love ourselves unconditionally is essential to overall sustainable health, well-being and continued growth. I think it’s a slow path that requires practice, searching for answers and is a different journey for everyone. May we all keep searching and find it!