I've been pretty much staring at this picture since I downloaded it to my phone. It’s the most candid, stunningly beautiful shot of myself I’ve ever seen. It was taken by my husband. It’s as if, in this photo, I got to see through his eyes, seeing the beauty he sees in me always, that I can’t always see within myself. It got me thinking about how I see myself, how we, as humans, see ourselves. There's the phrase that often gets stated in so many self-development groups I've been a part of, something along the lines of,
"We never treat ourselves like we’d treat others: we’re own our worst critics," or "Would you treat your best friend like you treat yourself?"
The answer is almost always no. What is it within us that fuels this voice of self criticism and doubt? Society? The way we grew up and what we were exposed to? The nature of humans? This week, I've seen it's a little bit of all of the above. What rings true for me as I've gotten present to my own critical voice in my head this past week, is most of the time, I'm criticizing myself when I'm in a space of doubt and fear as opposed to a space of trust and love. I criticize when I'm feeling down or bad or guilty about something, when I haven't gotten enough sleep or I've had too much alcohol. I criticize when I'm in competition mode and see someone at the gym doing something better than me, or I get triggered by an instagram post. It happens in the all the moments when I'm in some form of struggle in my mind. This makes sense to me. When my mind goes to the space of struggle, of course I would struggle with saying kind words to myself. The question then is,
How do we get out of the space of criticism and into the space of love?
What I've found is that changing my mindset and the critical voice in my head comes from the small things. Change doesn't happen in the grandiose moments, though it can feel like it. Change happens in the small moments, in the habits we get into (or not into). Change happens when we start doing something for ourselves that feels like a small boost, and then it becomes so ingrained in us, we don't even have to think about it anymore, it's automatic. My friend Nicole reminded me this weekend, it comes from those daily habits that become so routine we forget they are even there. For me, the most recent is the sticky note posted to my meditation station that says, "I live and breathe in a beautiful body." It's one of the first things I wake up to each day and it's been up for long I often forget it's there- but it is still there, deep within me, and in moments when I'm down or low, I have that sticky note buried in my brain as a way to pull me out of criticism.
The smallest, seemingly simple choices we make often have the biggest impact.
Rather than looking at this as another thing to do or add in or check off your list, what if you looked at all this from the lens of choice? What are you choosing to put your attention on in any given moment? Is it working, or is it not working? Where can you shift your attention to make a shift in your life? For example, when I'm in that moment of criticism, I can choose to shift my attention to that sticky note I wrote down. I can choose to remember that I live and breath in a beautiful body. I may not always make this choice, and, it's freeing to remember that it is available to me at any time. Choosing to shift my attention this week gave me the gift of celebrating my life and my body. What is your small, simple attention shift that if made, you know would have a gigantic impact in your world?