Self Worth rather than self-flagellation

We may not have Patsy’s degree of self-belief but as we enter the New Year do we do so with a sense of needing to improve or of appreciating who we are? Can we indeed say “I am fabulous!”

Perhaps we can’t say that, but as one friend once said, he had come to a point where he appreciated simply being here, having met the difficulties of life and made his way through. The inner critic tells us how we have failed at this or that, should be better, have achieved more….but we are here, having faced all manner of difficulties, challenges and set backs…..and we are still going. How often do we have an inner voice that says: “well done” for that! “Yes, life can be tough at times, last year had its challenges, but well done for meeting them and getting through!” In this way we start to explore how weight talk to ourselves as if we were our best friend, rather than a disapproving head master giving an end of year appraisal!….”Could have done better!”

Of course, we may see that certain ways of acting do not bring us to a state of happiness, the Buddha encouraged his followers to reflect on their actions and ask themselves, “does this way of acting lead to my own and other’s increased well being and happiness or to my own and other’s suffering?” If I see that something I am doing gives rise to suffering, the question is not how do I fix myself, but how do I love myself and others enough so that I wish to move towards that which brings me and others happiness.

Rather than doing penance in New Year and looking at all our failings from the last year, how about a short itinerary of what we appreciate about ourselves, what we value about how we were in the last year and what we wish to build on in the New Year! In this way we have something to love. And can then ask, “where is my bliss” – what is it I want to move towards that will give me a sense of aliveness, vitality and feeling fully engaged…rather than doing the ‘right thing’ just because it’s New Year and I’m expected to get fit, not drink or make a fresh start!

Perhaps going to the gym really doesn’t fill you with joy and is not in line with your bliss. But being in nature and with friends does…so you look at joining a walking group, inviting friends to go for regular walks in the park or find outdoor activities that allow you to socialize and be active. Or it may be as simple as getting off the bus or exiting the tube a few stops early so you can walk and enjoy the sky and sunlight, feel the breeze or the slap of rain on your skin as you  journey home, rather than sit sedentary all the way to the last stop and then dash home without noticing the surroundings.

There’s a saying that the journey is the destination. So let these moments be an invitation to open to full awareness of the present moment, rather than dashing through it to a future we never stop long enough to notice.

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