Thanks to a brilliant recommendation by a yoga student, I've started reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. It's changing the way I think about a lloooottt of things that were probably long due for an overhaul. Here's the gist in case it helps you like it's helped me.
Loving myself and accepting myself is the only path to lasting change and transformation. Just as I am, I love myself. I even love the parts of me that don't love me. The parts of me that want coffee even though I "don't drink coffee". The parts that are trying so hard to be perfect and then "failing", loving even the part of me that hates and berates me. It is all okay, it is all a part of me, the whole and the entirety of who I am, good, bad, ugly, loving it and accepting it all. Without compulsion to change any of these parts in anyway. If there is discomfort, sit with that discomfort, if there is desire, sit with that desire. I sit with it all, the peace, the calm, the sad, the angry. It is all okay, it is all a part of the fabric of my life and of human existence, and none of it needs to be fixed, changed or made to go away or forced to stay. Now, as Tara Brach says, this is RADICAL!
Self-improvement gurus and self-help books say that we aren't good enough. Advertising says we aren't good enough as we are...your parents, your friends, your fitness instructor, quite possibly your yoga teacher. These people tell us that we are flawed in some way and need improving, that they have the key to fix whatever it is that is wrong with us. Too fat? Bags under your eyes? Aging? Wrinkles? Grey hair? Stress? Tired? BUT Tara Brach, coming from a Buddhist approach, says that actually we don't need fixing. That we are beautiful and amazing just as we are. If we can relax into this, realizing that the perfect diamond we are searching for actually lies within us, then everything starts to flow. We are the source of wisdom and compassion, as Pema Chodron says "Meditation is about becoming one with who you are". All of you. Sitting through all the states we experience without changing them. The by product of all this is peace. BUT be careful. We're not aiming to feel peaceful and happy all the time, we're aiming just to be with self. This doesn't mean we have to be positive, or always look on the bright side, or be grateful all the time. It means that if we're unhappy, that's cool, if you're happy, that's cool too.
The result, for me at least, is that I am actually treating myself with more compassion and kindness then ever before. The ironic thing, is that those muffins and croissants I crave, that coffee I want and those new patterned yoga pants I'm lusting for, loose their brilliance. If I love myself, I don't need these comforts. If I love myself and accept myself as I am, I'm nicer to those around me, I'm more present with the people in my life, I'm calmer and less reactive and can see things with more clarity.
And so we say "this too" to everything that comes our way. I accept this and yes, this too.