“Now that I am trying to change, I don’t like who I am.”
At some point, many of my clients say this or something similar. When they finally see a new way to be, but are not yet capable of acting that way, they begin to attack themselves.
“I am a horrible person.”
“Being this way is bad.”
“It is wrong to act like this.”
These thoughts are natural, but not helpful. There are some very simple ways to begin accepting who you are so you can move into who you want to be.
See the Truth
When I work with individuals who are trying to lose weight, the first step is for them to truly see and accept where they are. Yes, they may have twenty more pounds than they would like, but that is the truth of the situation. If they constantly think they should be different than they really are, no changes can be made. We must first accept where we are before we can make changes.
We are often our worst critics. We will tell ourselves how bad, wrong, or horrible we are. This is also not seeing the truth. When we belittle ourselves we are judging ourselves based on our perception of right and wrong. Judging also makes us stuck. We feel a powerless victim to the label. Instead, reframe your actions as being helpful or unhelpful. This frees you to make changes.
Love Your Shadow
We all have positive and negative aspects. Sometimes a positive, like being a Type A, can become a negative when it is out of control. See yourself as a whole person with shadow and light. One cannot exist without the other. Know your shadow and work to manage it instead of sentencing yourself to unhappiness because you have a shadow.
Celebrate Your Progress
Take a moment and see where you started. Yes, you may not be where you want to be, but how far have you come? Celebrate what you have already accomplished and be grateful for your progress knowing that there is more and better to come.
A client told me about a time when she struggling in her relationship. The honeymoon was over and those little habits overlooked before now became a sore point. Every day she was reminded about things she did not like about her partner. After fights she would question whether they would stay together. In her mind she would repeat what annoyed her, what she disliked about her significant other, what was missing from their relationship, and where she was dissatisfied. Her frustration grew. She was unhappy and frustrated. She didn’t want to leave their relationship but she questioned why she needed to stay with someone who made her unhappy. Then we tried a tool I had learned from other client.
She bought a journal. Every day she was to write down three things she liked about her significant other. They could be about his personality, intellect, appearance, choices, how he was with others, and a multitude of other things. Some days she had no problem finding three things. After a fight it was more difficult. But she stayed with it. For one full year she wrote down three new things every day. At first it was a chore. She was angry and didn’t want to find the good in her partner. She wanted self-justified victimization and to mire in her discontent. But as the project went on, she started to remember all the little reasons she loved him in the first place. Two amazing things happened.
First, she let down her guard. For years she was unhappy. This made her on edge, quick to judge, and guarded against attack. As she remembered her love, she relaxed. She expected good. She looked for good. She changed her experience by changing where she was putting her focus and attention.
Second, her partner shifted. As she released her unhappy energy, it freed up space for him to breathe. He then also let down his guard. He relaxed for the first time in years. He too became more open to the good.
What we focus on is what we experience. Think about a relationship which is currently not ideal whether it be personal or professional. Think about a job or a situation in your career which is less than satisfactory. Go through all the aspects of your life and become aware of those areas where you are focusing on the negative, the less than desirable. Whatever it is, start a journal about it. Every day write down three things that are positive about that person or situation. Do this exercise for at least three months. Don’t skip a day. And see if you too can improve your experience through your focus.