Growing up I was taught to “love others as you love yourself”. This is a wonderful ideal, but it skipped one essential step: How was I to love others when I couldn’t love myself? I truly hoped that if I loved others enough, I could get away with not loving myself. You will not be surprised to learn that it didn’t work. My internal critic, particularly of my physical form, shouted down every attempt at loving myself. I believed if I was less than perfect in body or behavior, I had failed. Learning to love myself and have compassion for myself has changed my life. I am able to love myself with a whole heart. I am able to live courageously and see amazing growth.
“Wholehearted” is what I am calling my practice. For several years I have immersed myself in Brene Brown’s books. Daring Greatly, Gifts of Imperfections, and Rising Strong have given me tools to live a wholehearted life. I want to share with you what I have learned, and help you realize wholeheartedness in your own life.
The emotional impact of realizing your body is broken and may never be “fixed” is not to be dismissed. When I received the diagnoses of endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, I had to come to terms with both diseases not having cures. There is a grieving process that you must go through. There is letting go, and hopefully, there is acceptance.
Instead of acceptance, I tried to fix myself. Some of my efforts helped. Many times they left me deeply discouraged; I would give up. I would tell myself, “It’s not fair!” or “I’m hopeless.” My inner dialogue was destructive and critical. I will never forget the moment I heard P!nk’s song, “Perfect” on the radio. The lyrics went straight to my heart:
You're so mean (so mean) when you talk (when you talk)
About yourself. You were wrong.
Change the voices (change the voices) in your head (in your head)
Make them like you instead.
These lyrics brought awareness. Now I needed a guide to show me how to change the dialogue.
Enter Brené Brown with her message of worthiness and belonging. I began to take it to heart. I am worthy of love and belonging. What makes me worthy? I realized I’ve heard this before. I go to church every Sunday. I am loved. I am made in the image of God. As a human being I have inherent value. Every one of us has value. It’s not based on how much I get right or how I look. I am enough. Many great teachers, pastors, friends, and family spoke this into my life. Yet it was the language of these books that got past the harsh voices.
I began to cultivate the wholehearted practices of gratitude and creativity. I began to art journal. I began to practice self-compassion. I became aware of the use of food to numb my emotions. Awareness brought acceptance which brought change. I found it wonderful that these books and the Primal philosophy included play and rest! Now I call myself a recovering perfectionist. I am enough. I am worthy of love and belonging. I can take up space in the world. I choose to show up and be seen. I own my story so that I can write the brave and beautiful ending. I accept and love who I am! This has opened my heart to authenticity and loving others more fully. Sometimes I still wrestle with shame and that inner critic. Now I know how to rumble in the arena; revolution has come!
The wholehearted journey is fully integrated with my health journey. It has helped me to love myself as I am while seeking ways to be who I want to be. I am worthy of time to care for myself. Gratitude has become a practice for me and anxiety is reduced. I choose to speak kindly to myself. Amazingly, this inner dialogue leads to better food choices and time to be active. I lean into the discomfort of hard emotions rather than numbing with food. I still acknowledge when I make a mistake, but I meet it with self-compassion.
This is an essential part of my health coach practice. I encourage healthy food choices and daily movement, and I want my clients to know self-compassion for their journey. The importance of stress management, sleep, play, and emotional health is undeniable. We are complex beings. We are physical and emotional beings. I will create a safe place without judgment for my clients. We are in this together.
Join me on a wholehearted health journey. I believe it will be awesome!
10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living
(from Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown)
Cultivate a Resilient Spirit
Cultivate Gratitude and Joy
Cultivate Intuition and Trusting Faith
Cultivate Play and Rest
Cultivate Calm and Stillness
Cultivate Meaningful Work
Cultivate Laughter, Song, and Dance