“Self-acceptance and self-love are the first steps to bliss.” -Vasant Lad
A few weeks ago I began my studies in Ayurveda at the Himalayan Institute. I have always been drawn to this practice, partly because of it’s whole picture approach to lifestyle management, but also because of it’s emphasis on healing the body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda is a complete system of healing that stems from the ancient Vedic texts, and what I’m coming to learn, rooted deeply in self-acceptance and self-care.
It’s hard to believe, but a year ago this week I found myself in the hospital for five days due to a major flare with my colitis. You can read about that here. My doctors believed it be due to my pregnancy, which was a major factor, but I know there were other culprits at play. Stress, especially the emotional kind, has always been a trigger for me.
As I reflect on the me of a year ago, I realize that although I was practicing and teaching yoga every day, I wasn’t taking good care of myself. I was constantly on the go and left little time for relaxing and having fun. In the moment, I felt I had balance in my life, but looking back I can taste the exhaustion that came with trying to keep up with my busy schedule and teaching. Self-care was something I thought I was doing, but realize now I was only imitating.
It takes a lot of courage to admit that you’ve been treating yourself poorly. While it’s easy to be compassionate and understanding of others, I’ve always struggled with doing the same for myself, allowing the negative self-talk to run rampant. I was always too worried what others thought of me to think highly or lovingly of myself. The too sensitive side puts that stuff on like a party dress.
I like being sensitive, it is what helps me serve others. In fact, my friend Melissa of Where the Pink Mat Ends reminded of that with this graphic. Now I’m learning to manage it so that I stop taking so much excess on. It’s not always easy and I don’t always get it right, but I keep trying. I’m learning to be patient with this process too.
It scary, and really freaking hard, removing the mask of the people-pleasing-perfectionist, but it needs to be done, otherwise I’m not really being authentically me. And what’s a life worth living if not lived authentically? I’ve come to realize there’s no use trying to convince people to love and accept you if you can’t love and accept yourself first.
And here’s where I land. Through all of these experiences I’ve come to realize that rather than loving and accepting myself first, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy trying to defend, convince and otherwise explain myself to others. I don’t want to do that anymore. The people that love me for me, don’t need me to do this for them—they already know! And the people that don’t, well I still love them, but it’s not up to me to change their perspectives. It’s up to them. I recall the four keys to happiness and practice compassion towards them, but I’m just done pretending to be someone I’m not in order to fit their ideal of me whether that role be teacher, friend or family member. It’s time to focus on me and my own self-care so I can truly be the best me I can be.
All of this goes back to the quote at the top of this blog. Without self-acceptance and self-love, how can you fully experience that which is your true nature? How can you taste bliss if you are constantly at odds with yourself? How can you serve and care for others if you don’t know how to care for yourself? It’s essential to replenish your spirit in order to fully and completely serve others and most importantly, yourself.
Want to take the first steps towards radical self-care? Sign up for a Holistic Lifestyle Management session and set yourself on the path of better health and personal freedom.