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Posts Tagged ‘self-confidence’

I am a long-time fan of the reality show, “The Biggest Loser.”  I’ve watched all but one of its nine seasons and I frequently find myself in tears as I watch this truly inspiring show.  Last night, as I watched the penultimate episode of the ninth season, I was moved to write about my appreciation for this show I’ve come to love.

The four remaining contestants all went home for a month, where they trained to run a marathon while continuing to focus on losing weight to vie for the title of “The Biggest Loser” (and the accompanying quarter million dollar prize).  Two of the contestants were still close to a hundred pounds overweight when they left the Biggest Loser Ranch.  Yet, they all returned and finished the marathon!  The final two marathon finishers ran across the finish line hand in hand, and I bawled like a baby while watching this touching moment.

Moved to Tears

Why was I brought to tears last night?  Why am I brought to tears by this show virtually every week?  Because “The Biggest Loser” exemplifies the power of the human spirit, the power we all have within us to overcome our greatest challenges and triumph over adversity.  The shear fact that four individuals who were close to death’s door from the side effects of obesity only six months ago were able to finish a full marathon is inspiration at its best.

I have always been a champion of human change and an advocate of the sentiment that change is possible for all who seek it out.  Here were four people who had veered extremely far off the path of health and well-being.  I’m sure there were many people who knew them who had written them off as “lost causes.”  It wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to write off 31 year-old Michael, who tipped the scales at 526 pounds at the age of 31.  Likewise, who would have thought that 27 year-old Ashley, who smoked and drank heavily and weighed in at 374 pounds, would have turned her life around?  Yet, both of them did, as did their co-finalists Koli and Daris.

Lessons from “The Biggest Loser”

Why am I writing about “The Biggest Loser” in The Healing Project?  Well, some of you may feel that it’s too hard for you to change.  After all, you’ve been the way you are for many years and you may feel too far gone to turn it around.  You’re stuck in your ways and you feel little hope of becoming unstuck.

I know how that feels, as I’ve felt that way myself many times over the years.  I may not be obese, but I’ve certainly had my share of struggles around weight and food, plus I’ve grappled with a number of other addictive issues in my life.  Yet, as I watched those four formerly obese people cross the finish line after running a marathon, I was filled with hope and inspiration.  If they can overcome their challenges, why can’t I?  Why can’t all of us?

It may not be your goal to lose over a hundred pounds or run a marathon, but I’m guessing you have your own challenges that are equally as daunting.  I know that when I think about overcoming my laundry list of health issues, I feel overwhelmed and discouraged.  But if Michael, Ashley, Koli, and Daris can run a marathon, I can restore myself to full and vibrant health, as well as overcome the other challenges included in my healing project.

Be Inspired, Believe in Yourself!

Let yourselves be inspired!  Believe in yourselves. There is hope for all of us to heal all of our ailments within and without.  Let the chorus of “The Biggest Loser” theme song guide you…  “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” Do one thing, however small, each day to inspire yourself, to move yourself forward toward your goals, and you will get there!

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Woman on beach at sunsetIf someone were to ask you if you love yourself, how many of you would reply with an enthusiastic “Yes”?  How about if you were asked if you love your body?  I know that for most of my life, I would have found both questions absurd.  I definitely and unequivocally did not love myself or my body.

For years, I was my own worst critic.  I would unleash a torrent of criticism upon myself on a daily basis that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  In fact, I was my own worst enemy.  Nothing I could do was ever good enough for me; my standards were impossibly high and there was no way I could reach them.  While my targets for accomplishment and success were virtually unachievable, my standards for my body and physical appearance surpassed them by leaps and bounds.

Specter in the Mirror

I would look in the mirror and pick myself apart mercilessly.  My hair was frizzy, my face was blotchy, my nose was too big, my hips were huge, and my thighs were completely unacceptable!  These are just a few of the criticisms that would play like a broken record inside my mind.  My self-criticism and overall negative attitude toward my body propelled me into a long battle with anorexia and bulimia, a struggle which almost killed me during my teens and twenties.  Even after I managed to pull myself out of the depths of that battle, the criticism did not end.  I was ruthless in the way that I’d pick myself apart, and all compliments from others would be quickly negated inside my mind.  I just wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, firm enough, or anything enough…

The Toll of Self-Abuse

The years of criticizing my body have taken a toll on my psyche and my health.  Although I have become decidedly more kind toward myself and my body in recent months (partly as a result of my healing project), the damage has been done. I am convinced that the laundry list of health issues from which I suffer can be attributed to the years of self-flagellation.

Think about it… How would you respond to a person who continuously berates you?  Would you thrive and shine in that person’s presence, or would you wither and fade?  The way in which my body has responded to my abuse is no surprise to me.  As Louise Hay and other wise spiritual teachers have written, our thoughts create our reality.  The reality of my physical body has been shaped by what I have continually thought over the years.

My husband has frequently commented on how mean I was to myself in my words.  Sadly, my unkind words paled in comparison to the ferocity of my internal dialogue.   I have created my poor health of the present time.  I take responsibility for that, as sad and defeated as it makes me feel today.

Learning to Love Myself

I am not an unkind person.  In fact, I believe I have a good and kind heart.  It is time for me to direct that kindness and compassion toward myself.  It is time for me to treat myself the way I would treat a person I deeply love.  In truth, I have learned to love myself in recent years.  I have learned to appreciate my uniqueness and my good qualities.  I am finally able to say – and mean – those simple but difficult words, “I love myself.”  I can even speak those words while staring into my own eyes in the mirror, yet tears always well up in those same eyes.   Likewise, I find myself becoming tearful as I express these sentiments today…

Ending the War with Self

The tears are for the years of self-hatred, for the wasted time during which I was at war with myself and my body. Although I would love to recapture those lost years and circumvent my current health challenges, I can only live in the moment and move forward.   Hopefully, I have many years ahead of me during which I can live peacefully with myself and my miraculous body which has survived despite years and years of punishing abuse.

Responsibility is Powerful

Some of you may identify with what I have written. I know that many people are tremendously hard on themselves and their bodies.  We can blame society and the unattainable standards that are set out for us by Hollywood and Madison Avenue.  But while society can and does play a role in our self-image and body image struggles, the ultimate responsibility falls upon us.  That is good news because it means that we have the power to transform our thoughts and attitudes.

Moving Forward…

How do we do that?  Let’s take some tips from Louise Hay (from “You Can Heal Your Life,” page 23):

“Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything.  Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked.  Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

I Approve of Myself

I have been repeating the affirmation, “I approve of myself,” over and over inside my head for months now.  It is a simple affirmation that I think whenever it comes to mind.  I use this affirmation to cancel out self-criticism when I become aware that I am thinking negative thoughts about myself.  Although I know it will take time to undo the effects of my many years of self-abuse, affirming approval of myself is starting to have a positive effect on me.  I am beginning to notice my negative thoughts more readily and can more easily release them and replace them with more beneficial thoughts.  It is becoming easier for me to think kind and loving thoughts about myself.  I am experiencing small but noticeable “pockets” of inner peace in my days, and that gives me hope for the future.

Hope to Soldier On

The journey to heal my health and my life is a challenging and tumultuous road with many twists and turns.  I am humbled on a regular basis by the ebb and flow of my numerous health issues which only seem to crop up again just when I feel they may finally be behind me.  Yet I have hope and that allows me to soldier on with my healing project.

I believe that the key to healing is in self-acceptance.  In the spirit of hope, I close this post with another quote from Louise Hay, one which provides hope for us all for a peaceful and powerful future:

“I find that when we really love and accept and APPROVE OF OURSELVES EXACTLY AS WE ARE, then everything in life works.  It’s as if little miracles are everywhere.  Our health improves, we attract more money, our relationships become more fulfilling, and we begin to express ourselves in creatively fulfilling ways.  All this seems to happen without even trying.”

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Discouraged WomanWhile I would love for all of my blog posts to highlight my tremendous progress and exciting wins, life doesn’t work like that.  Invariably, we all experience ups and downs, and progress occurs more like “two steps forward, one step back” than in an upward slope.  Although I posted two weeks ago about the wins I’ve experienced since starting this blog, this past week has been more of a period of discouragement.  In this post, I will share my feelings of discouragement, along with some suggestions for how to handle such times in your life.

Career & Health Woes…

One of the “wins” I shared in my “Progress Already” post was that I was attracting more work projects and experiencing increased confidence as a result.  Well, that win turned out to be short-lived…  The inquiries regarding prospective work have led to dead ends and a couple of projects which I believed were “sure things” have fallen through for reasons unknown to me.

I now find myself in the all too familiar zone of uncertainty and negativity regarding work.  Despite my desire to remain positive and hopeful, I am feeling increasingly discouraged about my work prospects.  I know that it does me no good to lament my poor past choices, but I have had to stop myself multiple times from rehashing ancient history and wishing that I had taken a different path.  I sometimes find myself feeling very depressed for not being where I’d hoped to be career-wise at my age.

In addition to my career woes, a few of my health issues have flared up as of late.  I had thought that my digestive problems were mostly in the past, but I’ve been feeling extremely bloated and uncomfortable all week and have been popping antacids like candy to address the painful burning in my stomach.  The bloating has rendered many of my pants un-wearable and has me feeling fat and unattractive, a feeling I know all too well from my many years of eating disorder struggles.

The Tendency to “Snowball”

I have a tendency for my thoughts to snowball in weeks such as this one.  A few bad things happen and I start to think about all of the ways in which my life – and myself – are just plain wrong.  Instead of merely noting that it’s a “bad week,” I start to “catastrophize” and see things only becoming progressively worse.  The result is that I become paralyzed by depression and fear, do virtually nothing to improve the situation, and end up feeling much worse.

How to Deal With Discouragement

Fortunately, there IS a better way… There are some ways to deal with discouragement before you become caught up in that snowball going 60 miles per hour down a huge mountain.  Here are some tips for addressing your discouraging feelings head on:

Take a “Time Out”

Opt for a change of scenery.  Get outside in the fresh air or do any activity which will bring you peace and joy.  For me, a good “time out” is taking a walk along the water with my husband or visiting the mall to enjoy a movie or do some shopping. It doesn’t matter what you do, but make sure it’s something you enjoy.  Even an hour or two away from the source of your discouragement can help you to regain a more positive attitude.

One Day at a Time

Stop thinking so far into the future!  Adopt the wise 12-step group saying of “one day at a time.”  Plan your upcoming day, focus on what you need to do that day, and don’t worry about anything beyond that.  Life is so much easier and far less scary when taken in small “bite-sized chunks.”  Ask yourself, “What ONE thing can I do TODAY that will help me to feel more positive about my life?”  Then do that thing…

Get Into Action

Stop the “paralysis by analysis!”  It’s common to become paralyzed by fear and then be afraid to act.  But I’ve found that if I do even one small thing in service of my goals, I feel so much better.  Take a “baby step.”  Maybe it’s a phone call or an email, or maybe take 15 minutes to investigate something which might be beneficial to you in an area of your life that feels stuck.  Just do something!  Don’t set the bar too high, and give yourself credit for taking even a small action in the right direction.  Those small actions add up and propel you forward in life.

Refocus on Your Goals & Gratitude

Sometimes when we are feeling in despair, we don’t remember what’s most important to us.  It can be helpful to revisit our key goals and commitments during these times.  You ARE writing your goals down, aren’t you?  You are much more likely to achieve your goals if you put them in writing.

When you are feeling low, remind yourself of what really matters most to you.  Look at the progress you HAVE made toward your goals and look at what’s right about your life now.  Remember gratitude – we all have things for which we can be grateful.

Get Help

You don’t have to do everything alone!  I know it can be hard to ask for help.  It’s a very tough thing for me to do… But the people who love us want to be there for us and they want to help us during our difficult times.  Sometimes all we need to do is ask.  Call someone to talk or ask a friend for a small favor, or just ask someone to spend some time with you doing something you both enjoy.

If necessary, get help from professionals who might be able to assist you in getting unstuck.  It may be a medical professional or a service provider; there are many professionals who can help us with our various needs, and it’s often not as costly as we might think.  Remember, there is no charge to investigate available resources.  Do what you can to help yourself, but don’t be afraid to look outside of yourself when necessary.

Getting Past My Slump…

Here’s what I’ve done and will continue to do to get past my current slump.  Yesterday, I got into action and did something on which I’d been procrastinating for quite a while.  I decided upon what absolutely needed to be done in order for me to feel a sense of accomplishment.  I set a target of “good enough” instead of perfect and approached the task with a goal of finishing it yesterday.  Less than two hours later, it was done and I felt great!  One step toward becoming unstuck… I also planned a fun activity with a friend for a few days from now so I have something to look forward to.

I am taking things one day at a time as well.  To help with my health issues, I’m focusing on eating better foods and getting more rest.  To address the career challenges, I’m taking baby steps in the right direction.  I’m deciding upon a small key action to take each weekday so that I can build some positive momentum in that arena.  I’m also considering ways in which I can get help with these issues, whether it be from a health professional or a personal coach.

Hopefully, I will soon move out of my slump and start feeling positive and hopeful once again.  I know that I will have other times when I feel discouraged.  When that happens, I will take my own advice and stop those negative feelings before they stop me!

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Before I dive into working on the “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book(basically a workbook for “You Can Heal Your Life”), I want to share the progress which I’ve made thus far with my Healing Project.   I firmly believe that my focus on and commitment toward healing myself and my life has already resulted in some wonderful and surprising changes.   I am confident that I am on the right track and that more positive outcomes will happen in the coming months!

Improved Attitude

The best change I’ve noticed thus far is that my attitude is greatly improved.  I wake up each day with a much more positive mindset than I had prior to beginning this journey.  I used to wake up with a feeling of either indifference or dread, whereas I now awaken feeling increasingly more hopeful about the day ahead and my future in general.   This more positive outlook is also improving my sleep.  In the past, I would lie awake for thirty minutes or more before falling asleep.  Thoughts would be swirling around in my head and I’d be worrying about the coming day, my to-do list, and what I saw as my many problems.  Now I find myself drifting off to sleep in ten minutes or less!

Increased Productivity

In the past few years, I’ve really struggled with getting myself going in the morning.  I’d get up at a fairly reasonable time, but then I’d proceed to procrastinate on really beginning my day.  I’d surf the internet, spend too much time on email, and wonder where the time would go.  I was lucky if I got started on my critical tasks before noon each day!  I’m now done having breakfast, exercising and showering before ten, which represents a definite improvement.  While I may never really be a “morning person” in the true sense of the term, I am finding myself being much more effective in the morning hours.  This has increased my overall productivity tremendously, and I am feeling much more successful in my day-to-day life.

Increased Confidence & More Business Opportunities

My increased confidence from getting an earlier start each day and accomplishing more overall has helped to attract more work projects to me.  While I am not yet thriving in my business, I have received several new projects, as well as some inquiries regarding potential work.

For the first time in quite a while, I feel as if my career is on the upswing and that I am moving in the right direction.   The simple act of writing this blog has helped to cement my identity as a writer as well as a web designer, so I am attracting both types of work as of late.   My clients in both areas have been pleased with the work I’ve done, which is always a good thing!  Client satisfaction not only helps me to feel good about what I’m doing, it also leads to more work, either from the same clients or through word of mouth.  Win, win!

Better Relationships

Finally, I feel that several of my key relationships have improved.  I’ve had positive interactions with both of my parents in recent weeks, including a nice visit with my mom in her new post-retirement home.  In addition, I’ve also had some wonderful conversations with a few longtime friends and have been reaching out to more people than usual.

These improved relationships can be attributed to my more positive attitude.  When I am feeling negative and in despair, I have a tendency to withdraw and shy away from interacting with others. I find it difficult to act happy when I’m not and I am hesitant to reach out for support when I’m in a slump, especially if I feel that I should be able to pull myself out of the doldrums all on my own.  Whether or not this is the right way to be, it’s a long-term pattern of mine.  Yet, the bright side is that I DO reach out when I’m in a more positive space, which has been the case as of late.

The “Law of Attraction” At Work…

The Law of Attraction is at work in my life since beginning the Healing Project.  I am focused on healing my life and attracting more good into the sphere of my being.  Like attracts like, so my focus on the positive is bringing more positive things into my life.  There is a still a lot of healing to be done, but the journey has only just begun…

My next post will focus on “deservability,” a term coined by Louise Hay.  I will share some of my wants for the future, as well as my feelings on what I do and don’t deserve in my life.   I will be working through the exercises in Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book.” I will share some of the exercises in my blog and invite you to work through them with me.  However, if you’d like to read the support material and work through all of the exercises, I suggest that you purchase the book through Amazon.com (it’s just over $12 at present – I’m not affiliated with Amazon but frequently buy books that way) or at your local bookstore.

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