Archive | March 2014

Resisting the negative emotions

People, who subscribe to the power of positive thinking, tend to have extreme resistance to negative emotion and negative thoughts. We resist suffering, but resistance on top of suffering equals more suffering.

When we get in anger, we feel guilty immediately. The standard in the spiritual community has been that when anybody’s feeling strong intense negative emotion, we’ve got to get them out of it as fast as it’s humanly possible. But the only reason somebody would discourage somebody else from feeling negative emotion is if they themselves have suppressed emotion they don’t want to acknowledge. 

It’s impossible to focus positively when we have something that we’re trying to avoid. When we’re feeling strong negative emotion, we’re feeling desperate. We always get that desperate feeling when we’re trying to get away from something and go towards something else. And obviously, any time we’re trying to get away from something, we’re resisting it and therefore focusing upon it in a subconscious way. Whatever we resist persists. If we would quit resisting it, it would cease to exist. And so, there’s only one option: to positively embrace the negative emotion.

We can’t throw negative emotions out. To say that positive emotions are contrasted beautifully by negative emotions is a bit of an understatement. If we only had positive emotions, they would cease to have their beauty. Without negative feelings, thoughts and experiences, we would never know what happiness and love and freedom really is. We would not have any awareness.

Suffering is a human created event. Suffering is not what we’re supposed to experience here. We’re supposed to soar through the contrast and soar through the negative emotions for what we would prefer to feel. But all the contrast was supposed to do was to give rise to the preference within us. We weren’t meant to then hold ourselves in opposition to that preference. Which is what we are doing. And that’s what we are doing, especially when we make an enemy out of negative emotions. So if we’re capable of seeing the beauty in negative emotions, capable of seeing the beauty even in sadness, then we would move quickly from sadness into the higher emotional states. Then we would see the value in sadness. We wouldn’t feel like there’s some aspects of life that are out to get us and another aspects which we really want. 

Negative emotion is part of our guidance system, which means that negative emotions are valid. We should be encouraging people, when they feel strong negative emotion, to embrace and explore those negative emotions before encouraging them to then focus positively on something that makes them feel better. 

When you can feel that you’re resisting negative emotion, stop running away and just be with yourself and the truth of how you feel and what you’re thinking right here and now. Be with what you’re trying to run away from. Take time to sink into the feeling and really let yourself experience it and question it. And express those emotions instead of suppressing them. Embrace them in any way you can.

Let’s all stop being ashamed of our negative emotions and thoughts and experiences. If we can learn to do that, we will no longer be resisting them and thus, they will transform our realities into something better.

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Self Inquiry

Teal posted this article on her blog, where she shares a collection of questions that will lead you back to the truth of yourself in the now. I have decided to answer those questions and share them with you:

1. What do I want to experience out of life before I die?

I want to love and accept myself completely. I want to experience an existence free of fear. I want to feel like I enjoy the journey of life. I want to know what it feels like to feel like I’ve done all I came to this earth to do. I want to share my gifts with the world. I want to feel a sense of togetherness, belonging & true community. I want to connect with people who share my vision and work with them to make this world a brighter place. I want to be surrounded with people who love me and support me in every way. I want to travel to lots of different places and meet wonderful people all over the world. I want to help to transform the financial, justice, educational and healthcare systems. I want to become a counselor and help people to become the best version of themselves. I want to inspire people and make them realize that they are loved and supported by the entire existence. I want to experience abundance in all ways possible.

2. How do I want to grow?

I want to master the art of being able to return to happiness and the present moment. I want to be able to not take things personally. I want to be strong in my convictions and stand by my truth. I want to trust myself to act on my highest excitement in every moment. I want to become master shadow worker and I want to read peoples belief systems and motivations easily.

3. What/How do I want to contribute?

I want to spread love, compassion and appreciation. I want my life to be my message. I want to connect with people on a deep level and help them to accept and love themselves by loving them unconditionally.

4. What is my number one priority in my life?

Happiness, self-love and inner strength.

5. What would you do differently if you knew there would be no consequences (Ie. No one would judge you)?

I would allow myself to be frustrated, depressed and upset without feeling guilty about it. I would express my emotions freely.

6. What are my top ten needs?

Home/shelter, Running Water, Food, Clothes, Physical Wellbeing and Mobility, Family, Love – Self and otherwise, Music, To feel good about myself, To experience the manifestation of my desires

7. How am I living fully?

I stand up for myself and for my true desires. I don’t let other people tell me how I should live. I’m working on myself and integrating all parts of my being. I’m releasing resistance and pain that comes from my painful childhood experiences. I’m moving towards self love. Everyday I learn something new about myself and about the world.

8. How am I not living fully?

I’m afraid to open up to some people because I fear rejection. I keep my opinions to myself because I’m scared that other people will think I’m a freak. I’m scared of negative judgement. I’m scared of failure and sometimes I find myself slipping back to the old belief that I’m worthless. I could allow more time for exercise, creativity and fun.

9. How am I loving fully?

I’m moving towards self love and love for myself makes me able to love anyone unconditionally.

10. How am I not loving fully?

When I’m emotionally hurt by something someone says, I have the tendency to find it difficult to get over that injury and I maintain feelings of fear and rage towards that person. Then, I turn it in on myself and I convince myself that the universe is punishing me and that I’m too unhealthy because of my childhood to have good feeling relationships.

11. If you could do your life over again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t do anything differently. My past has brought me to the point where I am now. I do like who I am now. Without my past I wouldn’t have an understanding of darkness, fear, powerlessness and unhappiness.

12. What am I doing because I think it will eventually make me happy, but that is currently making me unhappy?

Prioritizing my focus on things that I think “have to be done” instead of on things I feel inspired to do.

13. If I found out I was going to die in a year, what would I do today and for the rest of the year I had left?

I wouldn’t go to collage, because what’s the point of studying when I will never finish it and get my dream job? I would go backpacking to Australia and Asia. I would travel the world and see the sacred sites and visit all my online friends.

14. What is preventing me from doing those things now, regardless of how long I have to live?

I want to go to collage first and mature a little before I go and travel the world. I also need more money and experience.

15. What could I do to make myself feel even better right now and enjoy right now even more?

Having the confidence needed to know that I can articulate my needs and wants effectively to those around me. This would allow for a safe and nurturing environment for the real me to be expressed fully and to my highest potential.

16. What pain do you want (In other words, if pain was unavoidable, what are you willing to struggle for)?

I am open to whatever pain or struggle gains me the most expansion and allows for my soul to do what it came here to do.

17. Who do you love and what are you doing about it? What are you not doing about it?

I love my sister and my brother for supporting me even when the entire family is against me. I don’t know where I would be without my sister, probably I would have killed myself or I would have a bad depression. I also love my friends and supporters.

18. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?

Sometimes I feel like a truly old soul, been here a million times. Other times I feel like I have no clue what’s really going on like I’m still running around in diapers 😀

19. What belief is the best belief you possess? And what belief is the most painful belief you possess?

I believe that each one of us is a powerful creator and an extension of source energy.I believe in the genuine goodness of every human being.

I believe that I am not worth anyone’s time and that I will be left alone/ abandoned.That I am fated to be disappointed, unhappy and suffer; that no one will love me for the rest of my life and that my authentic struggles make me incapable of being lovable.

20. What ten things are you the most grateful for in your life?

1. My understanding of people and this universe and the compassion it has given rise to within me.

2. The people in my life who see value and beauty in me, and remind me of it.

3. I am grateful for my painful childhood experiences, because only thanks to them I have experienced total powerlessness and self hate. This inspired me to think about the purpose of life and the entire existence. It inspired me to go on a journey toward finding out what is reality and how does it work. It also inspired me to love myself.

4. I am grateful for my mother for being my biggest mirror and reflecting to me my shadow sides that need to be healed.

5. I am grateful for the internet itself and my online family. I am grateful that I can share my story and my opinions on my blogs:)

6. I am grateful for my talents and abilities.

7. I am grateful for being able to live in this exciting time on planet earth.

8. I am grateful for the guidance I received through many spiritual teachers. I am grateful that they reminded me of the knowledge that has always been within me.

9. I am grateful for great experiences that will never be forgotten.

10. I am grateful that I am always 100% supported by the universe.

Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet

I became familiar with the Work of Byron Katie. I think her Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet is awesome and very helpful so I filled it in when I was angry with my mother:

1. In this situation, time, and location, who angers, confuses, or disappoints you, and why? 

I am angry with my mother because she underestimates me and she only sees the worst in me. She tells me that I’m not good enough to pursue my dreams. She tells me that I’m wasting my life. She tells me that I’m not smart enough to pass the entrance exams. She tells me that I’m a waste of space and no one loves me. She tells me that I will never be independent. She tells me that I’m not that kind of person anyone would ever fall in love with. She tells me that I will end up poor and alone and depressed. She tells me that I have failed my life. She tells me that I shouldn’t have been born because my existence only bothers people around me. She tells me that I’m mentally retarded and I should visit a psychiatrist. She tells me that I’m naive a stupid. She tells me that I’m crazy and not normal because I don’t have any friends except the internet. She tells me that no one would ever like or love a person like me. She tells me that with my attitude I will never be successful in my life. She tells me that I will go through lot of pain and suffering in life. She constantly compares me to herself at her age, to my younger sister, to other people in my age who in her opinion have achieved much more in their lifes. She tells me that I was born flawed and I’m predestined to have a life full of suffering.

2. In this situation, how do you want them to change? What do you want them to do?

I want my mother to acknowledge me. I want her to see my true self, the true beauty of my being. I want her to see that I’m a worthy being full of love and infinite potential. I want her to get to know the true me. I want her to stop thinking I’m insane. I want her to support me in pursuing my dreams. I want her to love me for who I am and not hate me for who I’m not. I want her to see my attempts to heal our relationship. I want her to acknowledge my uniqueness.

3. In this situation, what advice would you offer to them?

My mother should realize how much she is hurting me with her behavior. She should try to be more emphatic and she should see that I am a human being and I have feelings too. She should see how much her words and actions influenced my life when I was a child. She should see how much pain she has created with her stupid words. She should realize that it’s impossible to be unworthy. She should forgive herself and she should love herself. Then she will no longer hate me and she will see the beauty in me. She should try to get to know me better. She should focus on the good side of me. She should look at my talents and abilities.

4. In order for you to be happy in this situation, what do you need them to think, say, feel, or do?

I need my mother to look at me from another perspective. I need her to see my true talents and abilities. I need her to stop criticizing me and looking for all the things that are wrong with me. I need her to admit that I am worthy and I deserve to exist.

5. What do you think of them in this situation? Make a list.

My mother is unfair, arrogant, selfish, awful, pessimistic, rude, way out of line and unconscious. She is self hating, self sabotaging, self destructing and depressed.

6. What is it in or about this situation that you don’t ever want to experience again?

I don’t ever want my mother to treat me like this. I don’t ever want her to underestimate me so much. I don’t ever want her to tell me that I shouldn’t have been born. I don’t ever want her to make me feel guilty for existing. I don’t ever want her to make me feel like I am a worthless piece of shit that doesn’t deserve any love. I don’t ever want her to make me feel like I’m rejected and abandoned by everyone. I don’t ever want her to make me feel like I’m incapable of doing any real job. I don’t ever want her to tell me that I can’t achieve my dreams. I don’t ever want her to treat me like I’m not good enough and not a worthy human being.

Now I have to investigate each of the above statements using the four questions.

The four questions

My mother thinks that I am a worthless
1. Is it true? She thinks it is but fundamentally it is not.
2. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I feel horrible and hopeless when I think this thought.
3. Who would you be without the thought? I would be confident and self loving.

Turn the thought around
a) to the self. I think that I am worthless.
b) to the other. I think that my mother is worthless
c) to the opposite. My mother thinks I am worthy.

As I began to turn around these statements, I noticed that I was everything I called my mother. She was merely my projection. Now, instead of trying to change the world around me, I can put the thoughts on paper, investigate them, turn them around, and find that I am the very thing I thought she was. In the moment I see her as selfish, I am selfish (deciding how she should be). In the moment I see her as unkind, I am unkind. If I believe she should stop waging war, I am waging war on her in my mind. When I think she is arrogant, I am being arrogant. When I see her as pessimistic, I am pessimistic.

She is nothing else but  a reflection. And it also works the other way around. When my mother tells me I am worthless, it’s because she believes she’s worthless. If she calls me impractical and useless, it’s because she feels impractical and useless. Everything she judges about me in a negative way is what she judges about herself.

Now with this knowledge, I’m no longer so angry at my mother. Now I understand that she has been behaving to me this way because she’s suffering inside. All these things she has called me have absolutely nothing to do with me. Not even a little bit!

I don’t need my mother to tell me I am worthy in order to feel worthy. I  don’t need anyone to tell me this. If I don’t give love to myself, all the people of the world can tell me they love me and still I wouldn’t believe them.

The next time me and my mother are having a fight, I’m going to remember than none of the things she’s calling me is actually true. I won’t take it personally.

A brutally honest post

Today I had a fight with my mother again. That’s nothing strange about that, we fight since I was born at least a few times in a week, depending on how much time we spend with each other. I’m not going to go to great depths about our relationship because I’ve already described it in this article. 

My mother functions for me as my clearest mirror. She reflects to me all the negative beliefs that I have about myself.

This is a list of things she says about me that make me feel bad about myself:

  • She says that I’m a boring person with no opinions
  • She says that I’m not competent and practical enough to live a life
  • She says that I’m not independent enough and I always rely on other people to help
  • She says that I’m not normal because I have no friends and no social life
  • She says I have chosen a horrible field of study and that I will never be able to find a job
  • She says that I will end up poor, alone and unemployed and that I will live with my parents forever
  • She says that I’m not likable enough for people to love me
  • She says that I’m stupid and naive
  • She says that no one will ever love me because I’m too weird and defected
  • She says that I’m lazy and unproductive
  • She says I’m crazy because I spend all of my time at home alone
  • She says that I won’t be accepted to any university because I’m not smart enough
  • She says that I’m not deserving to exist

I’m not making these things up. She literally said all of them straight to my face. And she says them regularly. Now it’s easy to understand why I grew up believing I was a worthless piece of nothing that deserves no love. And everyone treated me that way because that was the vibration I was emitting. I constantly saw proof and evidence of how I was worthless.

It’s like a vicious circle. Once you have a core belief, it manifests itself in all aspects of your life. Your entire reality is based on that belief and you see the evidence supporting that belief everywhere you go. It’s impossible to get out of this vicious circle when you don’t know that your beliefs create your reality. And it’s hard to believe that you create your own reality when you live in a society that conditions you to believe in the exact opposite. It’s easy to believe that life is pointless and the universe is against you.

Today I asked myself what would my mother have to believe to be true in order to say things that she says. This is what I found out:

  • She believes that life is pointless
  • She believes that people are divided in good and bad
  • She believes that some people are born better than the others
  • She believes that the world is a horrible and unfair place
  • She believes that you have to have certain qualities and personality traits in order to be worthy and deserve to exist
  • She believes that life is based on chance and that there are things you can do nothing about
  • She believes that she is not good enough
  • She believes that there are no good things awaiting for her in the future

I came to understanding that I function as a mirror for my mother too. I reflect to her all of her shadow sides. She sees her failures and her biggest fears in me. Just like I see my biggest fears in her. I’m not the only one that is frustrated. She is sad and frustrated as well. She believes that she’s worthless and that she has failed as a mother and in her entire life in general. She has a sad and depressing life. Only suffering creates suffering.

I feel empathy and compassion for my mother. I wish there would be something I could do to help her. I’ve tried many times, but she simply can’t understand my perspective. When she looks at me and my life, she only sees evidence of how she is worthless. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to make her like me, she only sees what she wants to see.

The fact that my mothers comments are making me upset reflects to me that I have to believe in these things too otherwise they wouldn’t hurt me. If I truly didn’t believed any of these things, I wouldn’t have such a strong emotional reaction to them. I would simply recognize that these things have nothing to do with me so why should I bother? So to some degree I must believe in these things or at least I’m afraid that they might actually be true.

I’m going to ask myself this question: What would I have to believe to be true to end up feeling this way?

  • I would have to believe that I might be worthless.
  • I would have to believe that there is something wrong with me.
  • I would have to believe that I’m not smart and good enough.
  • I would have to believe that I don’t deserve love.

It’s true that I mostly believe that I’m worthless. I put myself down and focus primarily on things that I dislike about myself. I worry too much about the future and I always think about how can something go wrong. I feel guilty because of my past and I’m afraid of my future.

I have dedicated many years of my life to self improvement. Since I can remember I always believed that I need to improve myself. I believed that I need to fix myself, because I felt that as I am right now is not good enough. I thought that I need to change my personality in order to be a valuable human being. That’s why I have been interested in self help literature in the first place. I didn’t start to read motivational literature just for fun, I started to read motivational literature to find techniques on how I can restructure myself in order to be worth something.

I’ve tried so hard to make myself a good human being. I read every book and article I could find on self love. I watched all the documentaries and videos on self improvement. I followed all new age spiritual teachers. But no matter how hard I tried, nothing seemed to work. Just as I thought that I did it and I no longer have to face the same issues, suddenly everything crashed and I found myself in square one. Nothing has changed. I did this so many times and I always ended up disappointed. I started to use my constant failure as an evidence of my worthlessness, because apparently, I’m not good enough and powerful enough to change it . I thought that something must be horribly wrong with me because I just keep repeating the same mistake all the time.

I’ve never been so obsessed with self love like I’m right now. I’ve made a commitment at the beginning of this year to make self love my priority. Since then, there wasn’t a day I wouldn’t be dealing with self love. I wrote so many articles on how to love yourself,  I even gave advice to some people. One would have thought that I’m a self love expert. And yet, I still have self hating tendencies today.

I know the root of my self hating behavior. When I was cca. 3 years old, I started to feel abandoned by my parents and people around me. As a child I interpreted it as something that I have done wrong. I felt like something must be wrong with me and I started to  believe in it. Because of this I was a very shy child. I started to suppress myself at very young age. Other kids were expressive, cheerful and loud, but I was quiet, I hated games and I looked sad and pessimistic. The teachers in kindergarten didn’t like me and they told my mother that there’s something wrong with me and that I should visit a psychologist. My mother was upset because of it and I blamed myself for making other people sad. I felt like I was a bad and defected person and that everything and everyone is against me. Throughout my whole life, people have been telling me that it’s not good to be shy and afraid. So I started to hate this about myself and I rejected this part of myself. When I was about 10 years old, I started to work on changing myself in order to deserve love and become a valuable person.

But even after all those years of studying self help literature, unhealed wounds from my childhood keep on reappearing in my life. I’m extremely scared of rejection. I can’t stand the feeling of being rejected by someone. I can’t feel worthy when other people disapprove of me. But what I’m afraid the most is my own self rejection. When I’m interacting with someone, it’s not their opinion on me that I’m actually scared of. They don’t even know me, so why should I care? What I’m scared of is that I’m going to disappoint myself. I’m scared that I won’t make the good impression that I desire. In my eyes that’s a failure. And I can’t stand failures. I’m convinced that when I fail, it means that I’m a worthless piece of nothing that doesn’t deserve any love.

I know this sounds pretty cruel. But I’m not overreacting. I believe in my own worthlessness, otherwise I would not react in this way. I wouldn’t feel this way. I understand that I can’t have a feeling about something unless I assign a specific belief to it. I’m experiencing my reality according to my own beliefs and definitions. I understand all of this, theoretically. I see this particular belief as it’s manifesting itself everywhere I look. But why is it so hard to put this theoretical knowledge into practice?

I think I know the answer. I’m berating myself for continuing to buy into those things beyond the point that I recognize that I have the ability not to.

I know that I create my own reality. It’s an undeniable fact to me at this point. And it has been clear to me for a while now. When I first found out about the fact that I create my own reality, first of all I have gotten pretty frustrated because it means that I have created all of this suffering for myself. I could not blame anyone else, it was all my fault. It was my fault that I have attracted to myself such a sad childhood.  But instead of using the knowledge of my own creator power to change my reality into something I would prefer, I was still blaming myself for my past. I didn’t forgive myself, instead I was beating myself up and hating myself for what I have done. In my eyes it was an evidence of how horrible I am.

Well, I can’t say that I haven’t changed at all. Things have changed over the years. I’m not as self hating as I was when I was 12 – 13 years old. I can even write a list of things that I love about myself and that list is gigantic (with more than 100 reasons). I wrote a list of things I hate about myself and I couldn’t come up with more than 8. But even though I have 20 times more reasons to love myself than I have to hate myself, I still focus mainly on the things I hate about myself. I’m so bothered by those few things that I don’t pay attention to any of my wonderful qualities, instead I blame myself for not overcoming those few things that I dislike.

Reasons why I hate myself:

  • I’m shy.
  • I’m afraid to express myself, to open up to people and to show my true self because I fear rejection.
  • I’m secretive and I isolate myself.
  • I obviously can’t change and it doesn’t matter how hard I try.
  • I don’t believe I can achieve anything and I see myself as less then anyone else.
  • I’m a horrible procrastinator.
  • I waste my life.
  • I’m not smart enough.
  • My life is a failure.

I now know the reason why all of my previous attempts to change myself and to improve myself failed. It’s because you can’t overcome what is inside yourself or part of yourself. As soon as you identify with something, it is you. And from that point forward, to try to overcome those things, is to put one part of you at war with another part of yourself.

I was resisting aspects of myself. I tried to avoid certain type of behavior at all costs. This type of behavior was something I strongly identified with. And because I was resisting it so hard, I kept attracting it into my reality. I was resisting myself and that is self-hate, and therefore it is self-destruction.

Now it’s clear to me why I haven’t made any progress in years and why do I still hate myself. Even though I have healed many layers of this issue, it still hasn’t been healed completely. Healing happens in layers, so to expect myself to love myself completely in just few seconds is impossible, especially if I have been hating myself for decades. Today I have reached another stage of healing. Possibly it can be the last stage, since I have just uncovered the root of my problem.

Another reason why self love seems so unachievable to me is because self love is my ultimate goal. Most of the time I’m in pain. Why did I find my way to the spiritual life and to self-help in the first place?  Because for me, happiness is not easy. For me, happiness is like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just when it seems like I have found success at last, something happens to separate me from it. It drives me mad.

But why is it so? Deep down, I don’t feel worthy of happiness because I feel like I’m bad or defective. I fear that it is inevitable that the universe already knows that I’m bad and is therefore out to punish me.  And I fear that people will one day discover that I’m bad or that something is wrong with me and abandon me because of it.

So what is the solution for me? How do I finally get out of this vicious circle of self hate?

I have to stop blaming myself, stop blaming everyone or anyone. I just have to understand that I now have the ability to recognize what I prefer and what I don’t. And just because that someone might have taught me more of what I don’t prefer doesn’t mean now that I have to hold on to those beliefs if I really don’t prefer them. I did the best I could. I’m always doing the best I can.

It’s time for me to tell myself a different story, time to be a different story. I don’t have to buy into the old stories if I don’t prefer to. I am old enough to make that decision on my own.

Sorry for this extremely long post. It might have been too depressing but I wrote it the way I truly feel. I don’t expect anyone to read this anyway. I just wrote it for myself because writing about my feelings makes me feel better and I have much more clarity about what I believe to be true about myself. It helps me in my own healing process and what do I know, maybe there are people out there that may be struggling with similar issues as well.

What To Remember When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing With Your Life

Thought Catalog

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I often find myself at 4 am, unable to sleep. It’s not that I’m not tired, because I’m exhausted; I just can’t turn my mind off. Thoughts relentlessly pour in, and I’m left thinking of ridiculous things like embarrassing situations that happened to me 7 years ago and having an existential crisis over how I have no clue what I’m doing with my life. I’m fighting these thoughts, trying to clear my mind, pushing every thought out and focusing on silence. Then my heart starts speeding up and I have to sit up because my breathing’s shallowed. My lungs are gasping for air and my thoughts are racing at speeds I can barely keep up with.

I’ve struggled through 4 years of university, fighting off anxiety and panic attacks over what I was going to do with my life (as if we’re actually supposed to know the answer to…

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How to develop a positive body image

Considering that our body is the only place we have to live in, it’s very important that we build a positive relationship with it.

Today’s article is a guide to love your body. These are the steps I have taken in moving from someone who didn’t love her body at all, to someone who fully embraces what her body is today and continually improves it to be better.

My wish is that those of you with poor body images will find this guide helpful. Sure, you may hate your body today. Sure, you may have body parts which do not match your ideal body vision. Sure, you may wish that you have an entirely different body altogether. Regardless, it is possible to develop an unconditional, unadulterated love for your body—just as I have. This guide will show you how.

1. Identify the things you do like about your body and start loving them.

Someone with self-body-hate has a tendency to zoom down right to the hateful parts of his/her body whenever he/she sees the mirror. Even if there isn’t anything to hate about a particular body part, he/she can look at that body part and spot imperfections. I can relate because this was the lens I used to wear.

If this is the case for you too, I want you to try something different. The next time you look at your body, look for things that you do like instead. Maybe you have lips that are nice and pouty. Maybe you have killer curves. Maybe you have beautiful eyes. Maybe you have a great smile. Maybe you have nice cheeks.  Maybe you have nice teeth.

Whatever these things are, notice them. Then, celebrate them. Give them credit for being what they are.

Then, make this part of your daily routine whenever you look into the mirror or see images of yourself.

This appreciation process was what I did in my early phase of overcoming my negative body image. My natural tendency then was to notice my body “fats” and put them down repeatedly. This would include my tummy, my “thick” thighs, my double chin, my baby fats, and my round hips. Imagine how tough it was when I gave myself the challenge to look into the mirror and spot things that I liked instead.

While my mind drew a blank for the first few seconds, something soon got my attention—my complexion.

I have a natural, fair complexion which many people often compliment. I realized how lucky I am to have the fair skin as I do today.

Next, I noticed my lips. I suddenly noticed the beauty of my lips in a way I had never noticed before. People have often praised me on my lips before; they would say I have a nice shape to my lips.

Then, I saw my eyes. Oh yes, my eyes, I thought. How could I have forgotten about them?

And the list went on.

With each feature I noticed, something new would catch my attention. Suddenly, I realized there are so many things worth liking about my body—perhaps even more than the number of things I was hating about it. I just had not noticed the former because I had been so busy hating on my body all this while. I felt sad, as it meant that I had been denying my body of the appreciation and love that it deserved.

What did I do then? I began to celebrate the things that I liked about my body. Every time I looked into the mirror, I would dedicate time to appreciating my face and body. It came to a point where the celebration of my looks is now part of my daily routine—not out of narcissism, but out of self-appreciation.

2. Recognize your body is not at fault.

I realized that my body is simply a neutral entity with no emotions. So what if I hate it? So what if I keep scolding it? It’s not going to look any different (as a result of my hating and scolding). If anything, looking back, I actually felt that my body probably looked more haggard than it should because I was harboring so much negative energy against it.

I eventually realized that the only way to address my body issues was (a) to take responsibility for my body woes and (b) to work through them. This meant addressing my self-hate issues. This meant fixing my eating problems and increasing my activity level so that I would achieve a slimmer physique.

While it’s natural to finger point at your body and blame it for all your body woes because it is the one carrying the objects of disdain (such as your fat thighs, chubby cheeks, flabby shoulders, and so on), it’s futile to do so. That’s because your body is neutral. It has no mind of its own. It was created to support your existence and to let you live on earth.

Take responsibility for your body issues and work through them instead of sitting around and hating on your body all day long. This is where the next point comes in.

3. Get to the root of your self-body-hate issues.

Your self-body-hate arose as a symptom of a separate issue. To eradicate your self-body-hate permanently, get to its root cause.

Here are three questions to get started:

  1. What do you dislike about your body?
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part?
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why?
From Q3, keep drilling into the answers until you get to the root cause of your self-body-hate. After that, devise a plan to address this root cause.

For example,

  1. What do you dislike about your body? — I dislike my eyes, my large thighs, and my big belly.
  2. Why do you hate/dislike your body / body part? — Because they are so ugly.
  3. (For whatever answers that come up from Q2…) Why? — Because they don’t give me the attention I deserve.
    • What do you mean? — Because guys would pay attention to the girls with big eyes, small thighs, and a flat tummy.
    • Why does this bother you? — Because I want guys to pay attention to me too.
    • Why? — Because guys have rarely paid attention to me since I was young.
    • But is this the fault of your body though? — No it isn’t. My self-body-hate is merely an expression of my frustration of my lack of appeal to the opposite gender.
    • What can you do about this? Firstly, I can work on being more confident. It is said that confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can ever have. Secondly, I should embrace the natural beauty of my looks. Thirdly, if I have an issue with my body weight, I should work on losing weight, rather than hating my body on it. My body is an innocent party that has nothing to do with my self-body-issues.

Notice how the answers started off as surface-level responses (ugly features). Then, they quickly moved down to a deeper-level issue (not being appealing to the opposite gender) through strategic probing. This is then followed by a wrapping of the issue with proper next steps.

For whatever you may seem to dislike/hate about your body, chances are this emotion stems from a deeper-level issue, with body hate being a symptom of the problem. You need to uncover this deeper-level issue by repeatedly challenging the surface-level answers you receive from this exercise.

For me, my self-body-hate was driven by three factors: (a) my fixation with one notion of beauty, in part due to media conditioning and my childhood stories, (b) my lack of respect for my body, (c) my hatred for myself.

4. Work towards your ideal vision of your body, not anyone else’s ideal vision.

One of people’s key motivators to lose weight/change their appearance/look better is to appeal to the opposite gender.

Yet, I want you to always remember to work towards your ideal vision of your body. Meaning—what do you see as the best version of your body? What do you see as your ideal weight (factoring in the healthy height and weight guidelines)? What do you see as your ideal fitness level? Work towards these visions, not other’s visions.

For example, many girls (including me in the past) strive to be skinny because it’s supposedly an archetype of beauty.

However, a skinny body is merely a vision projected by the media. Yes, perhaps some guys do like stick-skinny girls. But if your ideal vision of your body is to have a wholesome body with nice curves, then get that body and rock it! There will always be different guys with different tastes, and whoever likes your body will be drawn to you, and whoever doesn’t like it, won’t.

The most important thing to note is that this is your body, your life. Don’t mold your body just to match others’ visions. Work towards a body that you love, first and foremost. You are the key target audience of your body; everyone else is secondary. Look good for yourself first, then worry about what others think (or better still, don’t worry at all).

5. Embrace the individual beauty of your body. (Unchain yourself from media’s conditioning.)

Size zero. Big eyes. Sharp nose. Sharp chin. Big, pouty lips. Flawless complexion. Long, thin legs. Small waist. Big boobs.

The above is a standard list of criteria for what is perceived to be beauty for a female.

All our lives, we have been fed a certain image of beauty by others. All our lives, we have thought beauty to mean having set features, a set look, and a set height/weight.

However, what if that isn’t true? What if beauty has always been in us all along, just that we are not privy to it due to our conditioning?

Our perception of beauty has been narrowly defined by the media all our lives.

For a while I bought into this image as well. I thought beauty was a class reserved only for people who met that stringent list of criteria.

But then I realized that beauty is more than just about being a certain size and looking a certain way. It made me realize that—hey—beauty doesn’t just in one form, one shape, one color, and one size. Beauty exists everywhere—in all forms, all shapes, all colors, and all sizes

Meaning: there is no one look that is more or less beautiful than another; all looks are beautiful in themselves. This includes your look: whatever features and body type you have. It’s a look that is beautiful and unique to you, in your own special way.

The unfortunate thing is that most people are so fixated on that one notion of beauty that they fail to recognize how beautiful they truly are. And this is such a waste.

Here’s something I want you to do from now on: Rather than stack your body up against a certain mental image, see your body as is. See every single feature of your face/body as it is, without expectations of what it should be or shouldn’t be. Look. Observe. And feel.

Who knows, you may start seeing something you have never seen before. A realization of how beautiful you actually are. A new-found appreciation for your beauty.

6. Be Grateful for Your Body

Are you grateful for the body you have today? Or do you take it for granted?

I find it sad that there are fully able-bodied people berate their bodies endlessly, while you have people who are disabled who utilize their bodies in ways better than those fully able-bodied people ever will.

Take for example, Nick Vujicic. Born with no hands and no legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder, he struggled mentally, emotionally, and physically as a child due to this condition. He eventually came to terms with his disability and started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs, at the age of seventeen.

You can watch a video about him when you visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLDBgRAvmew

Today, Nick is married (as of 2012), has a son (as of 2013), and speaks all over the world, inspiring people with his personal story of disability, personal struggle, and success.

Another example is Lizzie Velasquez. You can watch her inspiring speech here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c62Aqdlzvqk. She is one of only three people on Earth born with an unusual genetic ailment that prevents her from gaining any weight. She discovered a video of herself on YouTube labeled “The World’s Ugliest Woman” in high school. Unfortunately, the video had already received four million hits on the website. Instead of suffering from anger, hopelessness and depression, she took a different approach to her attitude. After educating some high school freshmen about her rare disorder, she challenged the issue of bullying face-to-face and generated a schedule of dialogue arrangements. As a result, she appeared on multiple television programs which allowed her to produce three books, including “Be Beautiful, Be You.

Think about Nick and Lizzie, then think about how you can better appreciate your body today. Despite being disabled, they have embraced their bodies and accomplished so much in their lives. It’s a sign to us to be grateful for the bodies we have today and put them to better use.

7. Be the best owner of your body.

Last but not least, be the best owner of your body.

You may be given this body at birth. However, have you justified your place as your body’s rightful owner? Have you cared and treated your body in a way that’s in its highest good of all?

Chances are you haven’t. So many of us abuse our bodies. We smoke, drink, eat junk food, laze around (or exercise ferociously for some), hurt ourselves, deprive ourselves of sleep, etc.—without considering the damage we are doing with each of those actions.

Myself, I used to abuse my body with binge eating, ferocious exercising thereafter, and minimal rest due to my constant self-pressurization. In retrospect, I was such an unworthy owner of my body. I was blessed with this body, and yet I failed to take good care of it.

The good thing is that my previous episode of body abuse and self-body-hate made me truly treasure my body. Today, I longer abuse my body. I rest when I need to. I consume the best food for my body. I regulate my eating. I engage in a healthy level of physical activity to keep my body fit. I don’t drink except at specific social outings, and even then that only happens once every few months.

I’m proud to say that I now manage my body in a way that’s to its highest good, and I can’t think of anyone who can be a better owner of my body than me myself.

Here are some questions to get you going in being the best owner of your body:

  1. What is your ideal, healthiest diet for your body?
  2. What is your ideal level of physical activity that will keep your body at prime condition?
  3. What lifestyle habits/changes will make the biggest difference in your life?
  4. Do you have any bad habits which are jeopardizing your body and which you should cut right away? What are they?
  5. For your answers to Q1–4, how can you start realizing them today?