Last week we worked hard on identifying past experiences and how they affect us as adults. This week we’re focusing on the present. For those of us who have low self-esteem, living in the here and now sometimes isn’t the greatest place to be. If we’re not suffering from ghosts of the past then we’re busy counting on our future to make us happy. Our self esteem is heavily based on our ability to accept ourselves right now. How many of us actually cherish the moment we’re in?
Have you ever related to any of these questions?
I’ll go to the beach when I lose another 15 pounds.
I’m going to put off having family photos until I’m happier with the way I look.
I won’t be happy until I get to my goal weight.
When I feel better about my body/self, I’ll have the courage to do all the things I’m too self-conscious to do right now.
And it doesn’t stop with just our weight or our looks. We put off doing many things in our lives because of one thing: FEAR. We procrastinate because we’re afraid that we are not yet good enough right now.
Here is an excerpt from the book, It’s All in Your Head by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine: By spending our lives planning and hoping and dreaming, we lose sight of what our life is today. We give up an opportunity for happiness today by focusing on tomorrow.
The book goes on to say that we shouldn’t look at the present as a brief moment between the past and the future, but rather as an experience – a state of mind. If we remain trapped by our fear, if we keep waiting for future events to make us happy, then we’ll always be hoping and never really living. Life shouldn’t be something to be endured until the future arrives. Your present should be thrilling, exhilarating, and inspiring.
Exercise for the week: Do this at some point before Thursday so you can write about the experience.
Think about the answers to these esteem-deflating questions. How often do you carry these thought around with you on a daily basis?
My life would be so much better if I were only:
I’d be so much happier if I had a better:
I wish I weighed:
When I look in the mirror, the first thing I criticize about myself is my:
The one negative word that I use about myself over and over again is:
Now, answer these questions so that they can be seen by everyone reading your update:
I often receive the most compliments on my______________________.
What I admire most about myself when I look at my reflection is________________________.
I take pride in my__________________________.
I love the fact that I can________________________________.
My greatest quality is________________________.
Study your answers for as long as you feel comfortable. Now, take a mini-vacation from your current self. Set a timer if you have to. Spend at least 10 minutes going about your life believing that you are perfect exactly as you are right at this moment. Forget about your job. Forget about your husband. Forget about your wife; your children. Allow thoughts of your relationships, the kind of car you drive, the clothes you wear and the unfinished items on your ‘to-do’ list temporarily slip from your mind. Just for now, be present; be aware in these few moments of what it feels like to be the ‘perfect’ you that you keep longing for.
If you find negative and/or unpleasant thoughts drifting into your mind during this time, acknowledge the thoughts but allow them to pass by like clouds in the sky and then focus on the answers to the above questions. Continue on with your exercise until your time is up. Notice how it felt in those moments, knowing that you were enough; also notice the control you had over these thoughts.
Were you able to do the exercise for the given amount of time? If not, were you able to redirect your thoughts back to the present?
Did it feel any different knowing that you weren’t relying on outside sources to challenge your beliefs – that you trusted yourself to be content with the things you knew to be true about yourself?
Finally, discuss how things are coming along with the Positive Reinforcement Sheet. You will be almost half-way through the Challenge by Thursday. Where are you still struggling? Where are you succeeding?
Thought for the Day: I am choosing to live my life now. In the moment. The future will always be just out of reach.
Quotes of the Week:
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
Don’t be afraid that your life will end. Be afraid that it will never begin.
See you back here on Thursday for Group Therapy. Have a good Monday, everyone.