Mindfulness Improves Self Esteem and Self Acceptance
By Jeni MacNab
Mindfulness can help you improve how you feel about yourself. It is important to understand that self-acceptance only comes from within and is very closely related to self-esteem. Self acceptance is more about what you do and what value or worth you place on yourself. Self-esteem on the other hand is more to do with what you believe about yourself and what you believe you are capable of doing or becoming.
Complete self acceptance is not something that is easy to achieve. This becomes even more difficult by a society that attaches a great deal of importance to appearances and the endless messages and images that we come across every day in magazines, newspapers, billboards and on television.
Mindfulness is about deliberately paying attention to ourselves but in a non-judgmental way. Mindfulness is about observing everything inside and outside ourselves, including our thoughts, emotions, memories, images, and sensations. With mindfulness you just notice how things are without trying to change anything and without allowing yourself to be drawn into the drama of it. This kind of practice helps us to accept ourselves exactly as we are. It also develops our awareness and helps us begin to work out what parts of ourselves we are accept and what parts we could be rejecting. We are not our self-generating thoughts and emotions.
Self-acceptance is about accepting who and what you are including all the negative thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself and accepting all of yourself without criticism or judgment. It is about total acceptance. It’s not just about accepting what you think are the good things about yourself but also accepting the things you consider bad.
So although self acceptance is about accepting all of ourselves exactly as we are, we can still think our legs are too short or our nose is too big, or this cellulite looks so awful. It is about accepting every part of our selves whether a beautiful face or a big bum and understanding that this may change, or it may not, but in this moment, this is how it is and accepting it.
Today many women find it hard to accept their body shape and size. Many of us turn to food to hide away from those painful, negative thoughts and feelings we have about our bodies. Using food to control how we feel about ourselves can result in yo-yo dieting and we can end up feeling guilty every time we eat. This can have a huge impact on our self-esteem and how we feel about ourselves and can turn into a vicious cycle, eating when we feel bad and then feeling bad because we are eating.
Understanding what is going on is often difficult but may be the first step to realising what you have been doing over a long period of time. Mindful eating is one way to change this. There are many ways we can improve our self-esteem and help us become more self accepting. Why not try the following short exercises and find out how much you really do like about yourself:
- * Write down 7 things you really like about yourself, the first 7 that come into your head.
- Write down things that you do well and also the things that you do that are not just for your own benefit.
- Write down 7 things you like about your body.
- Describe what you like when you look in the mirror.
- Write down the personal qualities you are proud of and look at them every day
- Be aware of how you are feeling. Ask yourself, if I felt differently, would I see this the same way? This helps you understand how thoughts are merely transient and it is our mental attachment to them that causes us the pain and grief we suffer.
- Keep a feelings journal and write all your positive and negative feelings in it. Notice how you respond or react to those feelings and what is happening in your life when feeling a certain ways
- Create a self-esteem file. Every time someone says something positive about you, put it in the file. Be mindful as you write each comment in the file and notice how you feel, what your thoughts are and if you experience any physical sensations while writing or reading the comments.
When you have done this think about how easy it was, were some things easier to write than others? If you found it hard set an intention to carry out this activity once a week until you find it easier. Write down how you felt as you were doing this and then reflect on why this might have been. Writing out affirmations can also improve how you feel about yourself.
As we begin to love and accept ourselves, this sets the stage for loving and accepting others. If we know what our limitations and issues are and are able to become more loving and compassionate with our selves, then this will be reflected in our relationship with others.
Jeni MacNab BSc and RGN is a UK based health coach and specializes in weight management, mindful eating and personal development. She is also a published author. Jeni is dedicated to empowering women to change how they feel about themselves through mindful eating and weight management. If you are someone who has become exhausted and disillusioned with different weight loss programmes and would like to find a long-term solution that works, let Jeni guide you through the process of Mindful Eating. When you understand how this process works, you will be amazed with the results that appear in all areas of your life!