For the past week or so, I've been doing something I normally wouldn't do.
One of my Facebook friends nominated me to post a photo a day for 10 days that represents an act of self love. I'm not much of a joiner and I have philosophical issues with many of these canned, viral posts, even when they're something positive and loving like this. You know what I'm talking about. The posts that say "I'll bet my friends won't even read this post" and "if you believe children shouldn't starve, put this story on your wall. If you don't, I'll understand." While those are overt examples of guilt manipulation, this whole notion of "nomination" to do something that could only be considered good, is just one step down, imo. It's all done to encourage a yes...and induce guilt and/or shame if you say no. (And this is NOT a commentary on the person who nominated me. They didn't think this idea up. They were nominated themselves and thought I'd enjoy it. They came to see what I wrote each day. This isn't about them. It's about me and how I normally feel about these kinds of posts. I usually want to say "no" on principle.)
But anyway, I had done some interviews of young people for a client and this one really impressive young woman told me about how, when choosing a summer project, she chose the one she thought she'd like least. When I asked her why, she said you can't make a decision about something because you *think* you won't like it. You have to try it first. And since the consequences of her particular choice were minimal, she thought "why not?"
I'd had that discussion in my head for a couple of weeks and hoped an opportunity would come along where I would make a counterintuitive choice. Then this came along. And I'm glad it did.
Of course, my first thought was "how will I ever come up with 10?" But, frankly, I feel that way all the time at work—"how am I ever going to approach THIS challenge?" :D But I always figure it out. So I decided to just take it one step at a time. And what I discovered surprised me.
See, I have this idea in my head that I don't really take good care of myself. I got that idea because it's true in regard to my weight and fitness. And also because there was a time in my life that I took way better care of myself. Back then, I was fit, had much lower living expenses, rented an apartment and had no dogs. So what else did I have to do but nurture myself? But now there's a house to keep, a yard to tend and dogs to care of—there's more that draws me away from my self care. Add that to the low energy I had those years I was sick and I was at the bottom of the priority list when I probably should have been at the top.
About a year ago, though, I started doing nice things for myself, mostly nail care and skincare type things. But I never changed my self perception as someone who doesn't take good care of herself. For years, I had been told by my doctor that that's why I felt so bad...because I wasn't doing the diet and exercise stuff I should. I thought maybe I caused my issue. So while I knew I've had a lot of baggage around the self love issue, I guess I didn't realize how much. Until I did this photo exercise.
What I found out was that, without even trying, I did multiple things a day that would be considered "self-loving". In fact, some days I had a hard time choosing. Today was my last day doing the photo post thing and I used the self-love practice I had been keeping in my pocket in case I needed one in a pinch—the time I spend with Kizzie watching sunsets. I didn't even need to use it today, but I didn't feel like I could do this exercise without mentioning my favorite thing ever. (BTW, other things I highlighted over the 10 days were napping, appointments with energy healers, home decoration things, taking "me" time and indulging my hobbies...stuff like that.)
In fact, I could do this damned thing another 10 days—all month possibly—without duplicating anything. I didn't know that 10 days ago, but I know it now. This has made me more aware of my self-love habits. And now I have to start seeing my capacity for self love differently.
The perception that I didn't take good care of myself, fed on itself and perpetuated. It was intertwined with how I felt about myself. It was intertwined with fears. And depression, the heaviness of how I felt for so long and baggage that goes back to childhood.
It's both a relief and liberating to realize that my worst critic and frequent enemy isn't really as bad as I thought. Instead of wanting to destroy me, it's actually looking for ways to lift me up. It sounds a bit silly to say, but discovering I wasn't undermining myself as badly as I thought changes everything! It kind of reverses some of the momentum of negative self talk I have inside.
So my experiment in being counterintuitive and challenging my opinions has been successful. Will I start cutting and pasting manipulative posts about starving children on my wall? Not likely. Will I do a photo thing like this again? It depends on the theme. But this one was right up my alley, I learned a lot about myself doing it and other people enjoyed reading about it. So it was an all-around win. What could you do to challenge an untested opinion or belief this week?