This post was first published on 6 April 2015 on The Humble Pilgrim WordPress blog I created back then (doesn’t exist anymore). It was an anonymous blog page I started when I was going through a journey of self-exploration.
I just saw a TEDx video here that talks about self-esteem and how to build it. Niko Everett gives background on how her work with young teenagers has helped her journey of enlightenment towards more self-compassion and a higher self-worth. Her point was, if only you’d met yourself, you’d realise you are wonderful, lovely and talented. How do we learn how to praise ourself, recognise our strengths and achievements without feeling like we are boasting? She offers tricks and tips on how to shift our thinking into more functional patterns and invites us all to consider applying them in our daily lives.
Her question struck a cord, If I met myself today, would I like me? Isn’t this such a fundamentally flawed question? If I met myself today, I should be able to love this person, with all their light and shadow, their joys and flaws, feel compassion towards myself and realise that so much suffering has happened to create these beautiful experiences that they live through.
In her video, Niko starts with self-deprecating statements loaded with shame in the beginning, and ends with a different perspective. She uses gratitude and compassion to reframe her experiences, so she could heal her pain and move past the shame and fear she once experienced. The freckles on her leg that she once used to cover up no longer bring her embarrassment, she is now grateful for the strength her legs gave her to run marathons. The shame her once alcoholic mother brought her is now replaced with gratitude that her mum is now sober and recovering. Her body that she used to punish for not being perfect, she now realises that there is no such thing as perfect.
All of these experiences make up the pieces and parts of her that she’s managed to integrate into her whole being and eventually has fallen in love with.
I’m trying to move past my own shame and fears, and learn more functional language of self-talk and there is much that I can learn from Niko’s experience that she chose to share with us. Like Niko, some of my shame also revolves around my body. I often tell myself that I’m not in the shape I want to be, perhaps a desire acquired through other people’s judgement, as well as my own family.
It’s long been a source of suffering but in reality this is just a symptom that manifests itself in many other aspects of my life. If it’s not my body, it’s my home, my possessions, my job, my friends, my then boyfriends… My ego will always find ways to trick me into thinking that I’m not good enough, and it stops me from realising my real full self. I’ve never met me, I’ve only really met my made-up stories about me.
So in an attempt to shift these beliefs into more empowering and compassionate stories in my head, I’m applying Niko’s tip on practicing gratitude. Here’s a prayer to myself, my journey and in an effort to be more vulnerable with myself, I offer myself gratitude today for the things that have recently caused me pain.
- My body: Thank you for being healthy, keeping me healthy, helping me be productive and allowing me to experience vitality and my favourite activities. I get to climb rough walls, lift heavy weights and dance to fun music. Every curve has a purpose and my body is a vessel for a life I’ll once create.
- My ex-boyfriend: Thank you for showing me how I can sometimes bully myself and discount my needs. It may have not worked out between us, but the lessons are precious, and you’ve taught me how sometimes, parts of me depend on others to feel loved, I’m grateful for this awareness and I can continue to build a loving relationship with myself about you and other men in my life.
- This emptiness inside: Thank you for reminding me how precious some moments shared with my tribe can be. Light cannot exist without darkness, and you come to remind me of the light in my life. You propel me into creating my fullness, you teach me how to learn from moments of “home” so I can learn how to replicate them in other ways. Thank you for showing me my bare shadow parts, so I can learn to care for her too, and learn to love my whole self, even with the darkness mixed in. I still love you – you make me a better person everyday.
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