Self-acceptance as the starting point!
If you asked what I say on the most consistent basis, this phase would be at the very top of my list. I can not tell you the number of patients that I see every single day who start our visit sharing a fundamental belief that they are broken. There is an energy in their stories of if I could just fix myself then things would be better, life would be easier and I would finally find joy.
This was something that I struggled with for years. As someone who is USED to run marathons, eat a vegan diet, sell cereal for a living, attend silent retreats, do 90 minutes of yoga daily, lead workshops for moms and so much more. I have zero interest in many of these things now. When I stopped these things I felt shameful and let down. I questioned my ability to stick with things and felt fickle with my goals. I judged myself for not being more committed. I began to keep my excitement for new things to myself and or shut them down before I even started.
Then I realized all these things I DO are smaller goals all intended to reach my ultimate life goal to BE healthy and happy in mind, body and spirit. There is nothing wrong with me and my approach to life. Rather, whatever my current focus is a reflection of the season I am in my life and letting go of things that no longer serve me is part of the journey.
What if your starting point is NOT right now but has been a cumulation of many starting points and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. That all those well-meaning exercise programs, nutrition plans and lifestyle changes you have made over the years were not failed attempts but all part of your stepping stones to this next phase of your journey. What if you were not broken and your answer is to fully, wholeheartedly accept yourself with all the starts and stops and lessons you learned along the way.
Anything less than this is the equivalent of putting a bag of potatoes on your back and climbing an already very tricky and steep mountain. Put that bag down and continue your journey without all that extra weight. This does not only make you feel lighter, but experience has taught me that it also is absolutely necessary for your success and sustainability on your healthy path.
This realization came to me when my daughter was potty training. Anyone who has been through this stage knows all about the additional work of cleaning up accidents and soaking soiled underwear. This is a stage of parenting as shitty (pardon the pun) as it is we all must go through. So as parents to babies or puppies, we roll up our selves and support our kids through this phase. One of the things that absolutely does NOT work in potty training, is yelling at our children every time they have an accident. They are learning a new life skill and it is our patience, encouragement and support despite the number of accidents they have that actually creates the ripe environment for learning.
So I ask you what if you applied these same qualities of acceptance, unconditional love and patience to our own journey? How do you think your process would be different? What do you think the outcome would be?