We would never say to our friends, family, children, heck even strangers, the kind of things we tell ourselves. Why is it that our heads are often filled with negative self-talk? Is it harder to tell ourselves what a great job we are doing, how lovely and loving we are than to say in some way shape or form that we are not enough or falling short?
A while ago, I began noticing that every time I was given a compliment, my first response was some excuse why it couldn’t be true. Saying “thank you” and feeling like it was a well-deserved comment is not my default mode. I have had to work hard to acknowledge my accomplishments large and small. Having kids and teaching yoga and mindfulness to children forces me to “practice what I preach,” as I want them to learn to love themselves and to recognize that every gesture of compassion and love are worth celebrating, and even the smallest achievements have merit. I want them to know they are “enough,” challenges and all. To teach this is to model the same behaviors in myself.
At this point in my life I try to do the work every day, to notice what I say to myself and to treat myself with the kindness and compassion I want to put out into the world and cultivate in my own children. There is a wonderful community out there, that I am discovering along my journey, doing the same work, as mothers, as women trying to balance it all, openly sharing their vulnerability, and how they are also trying to change the voices in their own heads, and helping others to do the same.
As part of this community I have created #mindhugs. These are messages, reminders, love notes to help change our mindsets and to remember to take care of ourselves, to love ourselves, to be kind to ourselves and to notice the wonder and beauty in the world of which we are a part!!
I am a hugger by nature and I know how this physical act makes everyone in the mix feel loved and comforted and worthy. Hugs also cause the pituitary gland to release oxytocin lowering the heart rate and levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and cause the brain to release dopamine, the pleasure hormone, (for more http://breakingmuscle.com/health-medicine/hugs-are-awesome-and-good-for-your-health-too) If a hug can do all of that, imagine what “hugging” your mind can do? Change the negative voice in your head to a supportive and positive one by showing it a bit of compassion with a #mindhug. Here are a few of my favorites that help me to remember and to practice loving the unique being that is me. Hopefully, they will do the same for others.
True love can only be given if you truly love yourself:
I know my own frustration towards myself spills over into the world around me. If I am allowing my critic to be loud and present, I find I am critical of those around me. It takes work to recognize that outward reactions come from inward feelings like fear and inadequacy. When you take the time to notice an emotion without judgement you can begin to choose your response to it and how you want to be in the world as opposed to letting those emotions rule you. When you learn to love all of yourself including your mistakes and your challenges you cultivate empathy and compassion towards others. Love comes from love.
The sound of stillness is the sound of infinite possibility:
When you learn to quiet the chatter and sit with all that you are, you will see that anything is possible. My own meditation and yoga practices and those I share with children help me and the kids to find stillness. We find our breath, we scan our bodies, we pay attention to what happens in a pose to our minds and our sense of creativity and wonder. We listen for silence. Things that may at first feel daunting can feel like opportunity when approached from a place removed from negativity and fear.
YOU are Amazing. Just a reminder:
Sometimes just a simple reminder, a hit of the reset button is all we need to bring us back to a place of self-love. We are all amazing because we all have something to offer to this world. We are amazing because we are connected to each other and to nature, and share the same breath. We are amazing because we ARE.
Find my #mindhugs on instagram and give yourself a #mindhug today!
*Instagram handle susanverde
Susan Verde is currently living in East Hampton, New York with her twin boys Joshua and Gabriel and her daughter Sophia where she writes children’s books and teaches kid’s yoga and mindfulness. Her children, her practice and the ocean at her doorstep keep her constantly connected and inspired. She is the author of the picture books The Museum, You and Me, I Am Yoga, The Water Princess, and the forthcoming book, “My Kicks,” (due for release in April of 2017