Self Love is a Muscle
We are all familiar with the effort and time that goes into lifting weights (though we may not all have personal experience with it), but let's break it down and use it as a way to explore other areas.
Let's say I want to get fit, so I head to my neighborhood gym and sign up. It's Day 1 in the gym, would you expect me to be able to deadlift 200lbs? What about bench press my own body weight? How long do you think I could run on the elliptical?
Better questions: Would you hold it against me if I could only life 10lbs, barely bench press the bar and walked the better part of 2 miles?
You're probably thinking, that it makes sense I can only do this much because I'm just starting out. In time, with consistent effort, I'd be switching to 50lb lifts, adding some weight to the end of that bar and running the whole 2 miles. If I really stuck with it, I'd eventually hit that 200lbs, bench press my own weight and maybe tuck a 5K under my runner's belt.
Does this sound about right to you?
Why is it then that we put so much pressure on ourselves to lift heavy emotional/mental weights right away when we're starting in a new area in our lives?
For example, I help people develop love and acceptance for themselves. Often times the first thing I hear is "I don't know how to do that" as a definitive way of say "I am not able to do that." Well of course you don't know how to do that; you've never done it before! You can't expect to lift 200lbs on Day 1 in the gym, and you can't expect to be awesome at loving yourself on the first day of deciding you want to do that.
It has nothing to do with your abilities or your worth as a person. New things simply take practice - consistent effort spread over time.
Self love is a practice.
LIFE is a practice.
If you can practice efforts equivalent to 10lb weights and stick with it, you'll be in the bodybuilding championships of Self love before you know it.
Please give yourself time to develop these new muscles. Let yourself suck at it. Learn from those stumbles. Allow time for the tears to heal themselves - that is how muscles grow, even emotional ones.
And if you want to do it faster, get a trainer, commit to a class, set up an accountability buddy and surround yourself with other people hitting the "Self love gym" (yes, I realize how cheesy that sounds ;-P). We aren't meant to do this stuff alone, and we're not meant to be great at things the moment we try them.
Just make sure you always have patience, grace and humor packed in your "gym" bag ;-)
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