Lose 20 pounds.
Get back in the gym.
Stick with my diet.
Do any of these sound like your New Year’s Resolution?
If so, you’re not alone . . . and there’s a reason why.
The messages about how your life would be better if you just dropped the weight or (fill in the blank) are everywhere. They’re covering the billboards, plastered throughout the magazines, and placed strategically amongst our favorite TV shoes. With the evolution of cell phones, all one has to do to access an ad is to merely roll over in bed and click an app. That being said, it’s nearly impossible to go 5 minutes without encountering a message about how you can change yourself (usually to line someone else’s pocket).
So, while we know it’s healthy to accept ourselves the way we are, it’s not so easy to actually do. If you’ve already dropped the ball on your new year’s resolution and are tired of trying to change yourself to suit the standards of someone else, here are 5 steps to help you accept and love yourself just the way you are.
Step 1- Acknowledge Your Humanity
At the most basic level, we are simply humans – imperfect and prone to make mistakes. We will inevitably experience anger, fear, doubt and insecurity. We will fail and fall short. The idea of the “Super Woman” who does it all . . . for everyone. . just right AND looks like Halle Berry is just not real.
However, there is another side to this humanity.
“I am human. Nothing human can be alien to me.” ~ Terence
While we are “only human”, with that comes extraordinary capability. If you’re uncertain of your own capability, just look at the world around you. The same elements that made Maya Angelou, Dr. King, and Mother Teresa, have made you too! You have the same basic cell structure and capacity to love or hate. No matter how great these trailblazers were, they were human – just like you. Nothing about them can be completely alien to you.
When we accept and truly understand our humanity, we give ourselves room to be flawed and imperfect, yet marvelous and miraculous at the same time.
Step 2 -Forgive Yourself
A well lived life is full of mistakes and error.
Rather than beating yourself up for the mistakes, analyze what you can learn from them and commit to applying the lessons. Berating yourself and wallowing in guilt will only keep you stuck. Follow self-acceptance step #1 and accept that you are human. Then, just as you would for a close loved one who has hurt you, forgive yourself and don’t look back.
Step 3- Make Time for Self-Care
We take care of what we value. If you fall last on the list of what you take time care for, then it may be time to do some reflection. When you invest time, money, or energy to care for yourself, you send yourself a message that you have value and are worthy of being treasured.
Self-care can be as simple as a weekly bubble bath or as extravagant as a week-long vacation. You don’t have to be rich, nor have tons of free time. Journaling, mediation, and exercise are just as effective as going to the spa or traveling abroad.
Step 4-Be Curious
At times we act out of character. We yell at a child or are rude to a spouse. We may sit and eat the whole tub of ice cream or stay in bed all day. This is not the time to begin making harsh judgments (i.e. I’m a terrible mother) and formulating opinions (i.e. I’m so lazy) about ourselves. This is when we get curious.
Clearly something is off. Get curious and reflect on what is making you act out. It could be that you’re simply tired or stressed. Perhaps it’s more serious and you’ve become disillusioned with some aspect of life are beginning to check out emotionally.
Rather than making a blanket assessment about your overall value as a person, dig a little deeper and figure out what’s really bothering you. Then address it!
Step 5- Know Who You Are
This is a must. You cannot value that which you do not know or understand. It’s easy to get an understanding of who others think you are (just turn on the TV) . . . or who they think you should be (just ask that nosey relative). But who do YOU think you are?
Know what makes you unique. Know your strengths. Know your lineage and the history of your ancestors. You will probably find stories of courage and incredible strength somewhere along the way. Know what your values are and where you draw the line morally. Know that God formed you in his own image. What’s there not to love?!
Once you truly know these qualities, self-acceptance is not far away.
Written By: Kaity Rodriguez, MSW, LCSW
Kaity Rodriguez is a psychotherapist, coach, and empowerment speaker hailing from Clifton, NJ. She specializes in girl’s and women’s issues and has spent several years working with youth and family-related programs. As a licensed clinical social worker, she has served as an individual and group counselor to youth and women with clinical diagnoses ranging from depression and anxiety, to ADHD and eating disorders. Her most recent project, www.kaityrodriguez.com, educates women on increasing self-esteem and self-confidence in order to live their best lives.
Kaity attended the University of South Carolina where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in only 3 ½ years. She went on to earn her graduate degree from New York University on scholarship. Again, she graduated Magna Cum Laude, this time with a Master’s Degree in Social Work.