So often in life we become quite fixated on the idea of improving ourselves. And I think when people first come to mindfulness they have this idea that this is what mindfulness is all about – making ourselves better.
But mindfulness is not so much about improving, fixing or changing yourself, it’s about knowing yourself more deeply and being yourself more fully.
It’s actually about unwinding from the thoughts that tell us we’re not enough yet, not there yet, not ok as we are, and it teaches us to abide in a deeper place within ourselves. A place of wholeness, calm and contentment.
It’s such a profound relief when we can learn to simply accept ourselves as we are and let ourselves be.
A Mindset of Enoughness Instead of a Mindset of Deficiency
This doesn’t mean we’re never going to do anything to improve our life circumstances or give up on our morals and values.
Rather it simply means unwinding from the stories that tell us we’re not good enough, deficient and need to be fixed, so that we can live our lives and make our choices from a place of confidence, fullness and self-love. So we do things from a mindset of love rather than from a mindset of deficiency.
The difference between self-improvement and self-love is summed up beautifully in this passage from Bob Sharples book ‘Meditation: Calming the Mind.’
Meditation as an Act of Love
“Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself; rather, do it as an act of love, of deep warm friendship to yourself. In this way there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough.
It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless rounds of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in a knot. Instead there is now meditation as an act of love. How endlessly delightful and encouraging.”
This Weeks Invitation: Switch Self-Improvement to Self-Love
So this week’s invitation and practice is this. Rather than trying to improve yourself, switch the focus to loving and accepting yourself just as you are right now – no strings attached. No ifs, buts or conditions.
This doesn’t mean we have to stop aiming for goals, taking care of ourselves or give up on our morals or values. We can take care of our health as a way of nurturing ourselves, we can aim for our goals because it brings us joy and we can live from our values because it feels true to us. In other words, these things can be done from a place of love and already-enough-ness.
That’s very different than dieting because we feel unworthy unless we’re at our ‘perfect weight’, striving for goals because we don’t feel like we’re special unless we ‘make it’ in the eyes of the world or beating ourselves up for every single mistake, flaw or imperfection.
Unwinding the Inner Critic
And if (or for most of us, I should say ‘when’) the inner critic pipes up and tells you you’re not enough and tries to whip you into shape, don’t buy into those thoughts. See if you can drop all that self-prodding, smile at the mind’s antics, and just bring the focus back to self-acceptance and self-love.
When we stop trying to change ourselves, we can then simply be ourselves and we can touch down into that “endlessly delightful and encouraging” place within ourselves. And there you are. There’s the loving awareness and the wholeness you were seeking all along.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead, beautiful people. Thank you for your practice and for your presence here in this community.
With love and respect, Melli