If you’re having trouble being mindful and looking for ways to improve, you might want to look at your self-image. Do you accept yourself for who you are? Fully and unconditionally accept yourself?
Before you dismiss the question as nonsense, think about it for a minute. What is the purpose of mindfulness? To be more fully aware of yourself, your thoughts, and your surroundings. The thoughts portion is usually the hardest one. What do your thoughts mainly consist of? Do you know?
Your thoughts are primarily a running internal monologue to yourself about what’s going on around you now and in the future and what’s happened in the past. This necessarily means that you spend a lot of time thinking about yourself and your self-image.
We humans are great at shying away from things we don’t like, and if someone has a problem with themselves, it’s going to be hard to focus on thoughts because your brain will just shy away from thinking about it. That is to say, your brain won’t want to be mindful if you dislike yourself, because it doesn’t want to be reminded of that dislike.
Do you suspect this might be one of your problems? Many people have it, especially in today’s hyper-connected and hyper-critical world where everyone is so often told about every perceived flaw and shortcoming. It’s hard to like yourself if it seems like no one else does.
You need to sit down and do some introspection about your self-image. Do you like yourself? What parts of yourself do you like or not like? Why? What parts of yourself do you still have trouble accepting? Why? Be brutally honest here.
Once you’ve identified the problem, you can face it. Attempt mindfulness again and pay attention to your thoughts. Notice when you start to say something self-critical. It’s going to be either something on the list you’ve made or something new you haven’t noticed yet.
Stop the thought and change it. “I don’t like x about myself” can become “I accept x about myself.” Work on training your internal monologue to self-correct these negative thoughts.
It takes time to finish this process, but you should start seeing improvements in your self-image almost immediately.
This strategy is used in many fields to help advance self-acceptance, including by professional therapists, and if you follow it, you’ll become better at accepting yourself and at being mindful. Get started today!
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