“My grandma used to tell me the same thing. You really need to let that go.”
My friend looked at me with slight exasperation on her face and wide, brown eyes. She was right. I had been blaming my struggles with weight on events and people in my past. This conversation happened several years ago, and I am now just realizing that it is a whole lot deeper than that.
Last time I wrote a summary of how we internalize external phenomena into our state of mind. We let our experiences determine whether we are happy, sad, angry, or a host of other emotions. The key to obtaining true happiness is to reclaim the power to create it. Happiness is a conscious decision we need to make. How can we harness happiness in our own lives? We can start in three ways: boosting our self-confidence, recognizing our blessings, and… Just. Letting. Go.
Self-confidence is a huge issue for many women. It’s a huge issue for me. Confidence is something I battle with on a daily basis, but am working diligently to improve it. Being able to bring our confidence level to where it should be is a different journey for each person. The first part of any journey, though, is to stop beating yourself up. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves. I definitely have body image issues. Even more so after giving birth. When I start digging in on my looks or shake my head as I squeeze or push on a problem area, I immediately put my hands down, and mentally say, “Stop it.” Stop hating your body. Stop comparing yourself to models and actresses who have money at their disposal to look as society dictates is beautiful. Stop feeling like a failure for not losing the baby weight in 3 months (or 6. Or 12.) Stop berating yourself for saying the wrong thing, or feeling a certain way.
Instead, try playing a new tape in your head. You could tell yourself why your body is so strong, starting with your feet, and moving up in body parts till you get to your face. This exercise is meant to point out all of the powerful things you have done. Love those feet that invested all those volunteer hours. Love that belly that made a human being in it. Love those chubby cheeks that glow whenever your loved ones make you laugh. I’m already standing taller.
Something else that works for me is putting myself together at the very start of my day. Some foundation, mascara, and an outfit I feel powerful in is often the ticket I need to confidence city. Some might argue that focusing on your external appearance is shallow, demeaning, or counterproductive. If it is for you, then don’t do it. But I am a firm believer in putting your best foot forward in the world. When I look good, I feel good, and that is all the proof I need.
Another idea: exercise. It truly is one word and one solution. Exercise. Fitness, no matter what level, should be a part of your life. Not only is it good for your health and releasing endorphins and science stuff, but getting that blood flowing and completing a fitness session brings a sense of power and satisfaction. Ran five minutes straight for the first time? Yeah you did. Finish a half-marathon? Go girl. Celebrate every accomplishment.
Recognize your blessings
In today’s society of more, more, more it is easy to get caught up in the swirl. We begin to see our lives as empty, or not good enough, and this really starts to affect our mood. I am guilty of this. I watch Property Brothers and drool at the beautifully finished houses, then look around and feel a pang of jealousy. When I turn off the TV and look around my home again and at the people– and dogs– in it, I couldn’t be more full of joy. Our house is truly a home and it is because we share a love here. Life is a long road, and there is plenty of time for home improvement. I’m starting with gratitude for being able to have a home in the first place.
Blessings don’t have to be tangible things. They can be experiences or accomplishments, or maybe people you’ve met or people that have passed on. We are touched and blessed in so many ways in our lives, don’t let the Keeping-Up-With-The-Jones’ attitude sway you from inner peace. Write them down daily in a journal if you have to. Tell a friend all the things you are grateful for. Just recognize how blessed you really are.
Let it go
I think back to my friend and her words to me to just let it go. I think of how much time I have wasted stewing and boiling over incidences or missed chances in my life. Harsh words by bullies. Lost time not blogging. I often feel anger, guilt, resentment, or anxiety. But why?
Has anyone ever asked you, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Ooo, I hate that phrase. Hate it real good. But it does have merit. Is spending all of this time, energy, and emotion really helping you out right now, right here, right in this moment? The answer is likely no. The answer is likely that it is eating your soul away. Tsk tsk, what a waste.
Let that shit go. It’s got to go.
To release these negative foci, I find a quiet space, and close my eyes. I turn my mind’s eye inward and take a deep breath in. In this deep breath, I visualize white, peaceful energy. As I exhale, I see the breath carrying away all of the black, negative energy that is in my body. Deep, calming breath in. Long exhale out. The negativity flows away. I am left filled with peace and positive.
Too new-agey for you? That’s cool. Try to find a method, though, that enables you to make a conceded effort of releasing all of those bad memories and feelings. Fill up that open space with positive thoughts and emotions. No matter how you accomplish it, you will feel ten times lighter and calmer at heart than you were before when you were lugging that emotional baggage around.
Happiness is personal. Happiness is a personal choice. It is a conscious decision we need to make daily, or several times a day. It might not be so easy to do the first time, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. Maybe happiness is like a muscle memory, repetition breeds strength. Go ‘head girl. Flex it.