A big part of what I preach and what I practice is self-acceptance and self-compassion, as well as growing our awareness around which stories belong to us and which stories belong to others.
What exactly do I mean by that?
We're not born a blank canvas (as once believed) but we are born a very impressionable canvas and from an early age we suck information and other people's beliefs and behaviours into our brains and let them take root because we're unequipped to ask critical questions and take an objective stance against all these worldly impressions thrown our way.
We learn to suppress our needs when we're told to be quiet when eagerly and joyfully trying to explain something we find super interesting, or when we aren't picked up when we're crying, or when we’re told to stop fidgeting or we can't go to the toilet till later.
We're programmed into becoming perfectionists who value our worth based on external validation due to how the school system is set up and by being told we're good boys or girls when we've cleaned our rooms or tidied our beds.
Via observation, be that of our family, or friends or via television and social media, we learn what a beautiful woman and handsome man are supposed to look like and we learn that some things are cool and others aren't.
Capitalism teaches us that success means a good job, a big house, a fancy car, beautiful things and amazing holidays.
Depending on our culture, the society we've grown up in, the political climate and family traditions, we learn how to behave, think and feel but so often we presume that our beliefs are ours rather than something installed in us.
Our beliefs become stories, narratives, of how to be a good human in this world. How to fit in, how to show up.
And many of us end up feeling crappy because we can't live up to these expectations, or don't want to but also don't know how to say no or struggle to admit to ourselves that we reject the norm.
As a consequence, we often see the new year as a chance to improve ourselves - lose weight, get organised, save up to buy that thing (house/car/outfit), become happy (whatever that means?!), stop smoking/drinking/moaning - New Year, New You!
And, statistics show that most of us fail, and rather quickly, but what doesn't tend to fail is the inner critic telling us all about how shit we are for not improving or for quitting.
So, I practice New Year, Same You!
Of course, you're allowed to change, improve, lose weight or whatever you like and if the 1st of the month of a new year is a good motivating date for you - go nuts!
But what change might occur if you chose to focus on self-acceptance and self-compassion above all else? To love your body as is. To be happy with what you have instead of craving more? To accept your messy, non-saving-up, smoking and drinking you as you are.
What radical change might lie ahead of you start this new year by accepting what is – including you, warts and all – to relax more, to create more space to do nothing in, to be bored, to leave the dishes, to nap, to stare out the window, to skip gym day to cuddle instead? To, literally, stop and smell the roses (as well as metaphorically). What would happen if your focus was on self-love over self-criticism? On loving what is over what could have been? On good enough over perfection? On judging yourself less and giving everyone else a break too?
Maybe that sounds like a lot of work and change, but what if all that comes from simply accepting it’s a new year and it’s the same you, instead of focussing so much on hard work and change that’s based on you not accepting yourself as you are in this glorious moment?
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you did, or didn't, or want to add something or have a question, feel free to comment below (but try and be kind about it - I'm a terribly sensitive soul).
Don't forget that this is just my opinion. You don't have to agree. These pieces of writing are just here to make you think and take from it what you like and find helpful and ignore the rest. At the end of the day, it's your life and, therefore, what you consume, what you believe, and what you think and feel is your choice.
Also, this article has been brought to you by a perfectly imperfect, flawsome dyslexic. I hope any potential spelling or grammar mistakes didn't take away from your enjoyment.
Meandering thoughts about life and the meaning of everything, from a know-it-not-all!