If you could wake up tomorrow morning doing exactly what you want to do, what would that be? What do you think is holding you back from taking that next step to achieving your goals or simply getting to a place that is more peaceful and happier? Take a couple of minutes and think about three things that you would be doing differently in your ideal world. It could be leaving your job, moving, leaving your relationship— or it could be a small step toward achieving that lifelong goal of yours. Whatever it is, be honest with yourself and make a mental note of it.
In my many years working with patients, I have found that so many of us live on autopilot and often feel overwhelmed with anxiety-provoking thoughts—especially during such a stressful time like the one we’re living in today. Now, think about what it is that stands in your way. We all have some “limiting beliefs” or “mental blocks” that are crucial to recognize. Can you think about a couple of things that limit you and write them down? How do you think your life would be different if you challenged yourself to overcome your fears and other limitations that prevent you from achieving your goals?
Since I was a little girl, I felt motivated by love, but I had a lot of dreams and aspirations that were blocked by limitations that I set for myself. I wasn’t provided with the strong foundations of love and support that I needed as a young child. I was consumed with thoughts such as, “I’m not loved, and I’m not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough... It is never enough…”
I don’t think I knew what that word love meant as a little girl, but as I grew up I realized that love comes in many different forms. In my case, love was expressed by either not doing or saying much, or by inflicting emotional fear, some sort of intimidation, or uncomfortable feelings. Now I know that I was loved, and at different points of my life I experienced affection, but somewhere deep inside I was always motivated by the idea of being loved. Even in my first relationship with the man who was the love of my life, I was the one begging for love and affection. My love for others and care for everyone else was a given—but I couldn’t love myself. It was kind of sad and even pathetic.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” - Albert Einstein
I love this quote by Albert Einstein because I think it is so reflective of our society today. We ignore the beautiful gifts that are our own intuition and mind, and we praise ourselves and others for the seemingly rational thoughts that often lead us to go through our days on autopilot. Honoring the intuitive mind is linked to finding out what motivates you and loving that intuition and that drive.
When I was sent to live with a foster family at the kibbutz at age 12, I was convinced that I was not loved. Two years later, that translated into anorexia and losing over 40 pounds. It took me many years to learn to love and respect myself and surround myself with people who truly love me for who I am. What did I learn from all of that? And how will you put yourself first and show yourself the love and respect you deserve? Let me try to help.
Tip 1: Remember you are not your thoughts.
Let’s start with the fact that our thoughts are often misleading and if you realize that you are not your thoughts, you are opening the door for better opportunities that will surprise you and lead you to more constructive places. According to research, 95% of our thoughts are formed during the first six years of our life which basically means that many of us tend to repeat the same thoughts and have similar thought patterns that affect how we feel and behave. Therefore, make a conscious effort to remind yourself that you are not your thoughts and if you identify a thought that limits you, do your best to be curious about this thought and consider other options that are less limiting and more productive.
Tip 2: Mind your thoughts.
This one is related to the first but takes it a step further! Check in with your body and mind. To start, take 60 seconds and close your eyes and just scan your body from top to bottom. Pay attention to your breathing. If you find that your mind is wandering and you are unable to check in with yourself, that’s OK. Don’t judge yourself but simply acknowledge that you’re experiencing distractions and bring yourself back to your body. How was that? Were you able to just pay attention to your body? How about paying attention to your mind?
What if you had to close your eyes and simply observe your thoughts without any judgment just for 60 seconds? What would it be like for you to observe your thoughts as if you were someone else? Can you identify one or two thoughts that entered your consciousness? Write them down and ask yourself the following: Are these thoughts or ideas helping to empower me or do they limit me?
Tip 3: Choose love over fear.
We all have the potential to love and do great things but many of us allow fear or other negative feelings to limit us and prevent us from achieving our goals. Can you think about something that you are afraid of? I can use the example of opening the wellness practice that I wanted to open for many years, but I allowed fear and other excuses to prevent me from doing that. I was afraid that I would not able to open it and that I would not have money to invest in it, among many other things. Clearly, some of my concerns were realistic, but then... I reminded myself how much I love what I do and I believed in my goal, and I challenged myself to do what I wanted with all the love and passion that I had. In the end, I was able to open the first teen and family wellness center in Manhattan. The good news is that we all have the ability to use the power of love to remove these limitations, so go ahead, give it a try!
Tip 4: Accept your imperfections.
Many of us strive to live a perfect life and get the perfect score and look the best that we can and pretend to the world that we have whatever it takes to be perfect. In reality, this is clearly not achievable and creates a lot of pressure, stress, and anxiety. I wish I learned that in my teens and early 20s, but if you can learn to embrace and love your imperfections, you’re going to be a lot happier and have a better relationship with yourself, which will clearly reflect on other relationships.
After I had my third daughter, I remember going to a pool party at a friend’s house and feeling confident wearing a bathing suit in front of many other people while holding my 6-month-old baby. A friend’s sister looked at me and stared at my body and said, “Wow, you look like that with a flat belly after having three kids? That’s amazing!” Before I thanked her, I mentioned the scars on my body and the mini veins that I had gained as a gift of being pregnant and caring for my girls. I caught myself telling her all of this and then realized that I didn’t even say “thank you” before acknowledging my flaws.
I have tried to make it a habit now to pay very close attention to what it is that I say and think when someone gives me a compliment of any kind, and most importantly to acknowledge the compliment and thank the other person. You must learn to love and embrace your flaws whatever they are! My point in saying that is learning to love yourself and your body takes a long time and this is a process that you have to work on a little bit every day.
I hope that you will take a few minutes to write down whatever it is you think stops you from becoming a better version of yourself, show yourself compassion for having to carry the burden of feeling this way, and figure out a way to fall in love with yourself—even with the parts of yourself that you don’t like as much. I promise you that if you want to change anything, the best way to do it is to have a more positive attitude about whatever it is you want to change. Once you show yourself the love and compassion that you deserve, everything else will be so much easier!
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