Self-esteem is an elusive nectar. We’ve all tasted moments of it, and we all wish for more. To feel that feeling of loving who you are, truly equally appreciating your highs and lows, and holding yourself sweetly so you can offer your gifts to your community and to the world, here are 5 quick tips that will lift you up and help you love the skin you’re in.
1. Have a “dream” – a vision for the future. Once you’ve articulated that vision, something I’ve learned and now teach via the Handel Group, you’ve created a new neural pathway in your mind for the ideal to happen. You’re holding the state of being of that dream as true, as happening, as already done. When you do this for each of the 18 Areas of your life, from your career to your romance, from your family to your health, it’s like microsurgery for your brain, re-wiring and recalibrating your own possibilities.
Two great examples of why to craft a “dream” for any area of your life. First, a client of mine, Annie from Germany, wasn’t really connecting to her husband for a number of years. They’d fallen into complacency as so many couples do; it’d been years since they’d really looked into one another’s eyes and felt that shared, intimate space.
Through her work with coaching, she created a vision, a “dream,” about her relationship – super close, connected, sensual, in love. Upon writing that “dream” she had to also study the reasons why she didn’t have it, what excuses she was using to stop it from coming true. In seeing the excuses, she was able to take steps toward that reality, and design the relationship of her dreams. When I finally met her husband on my tour of Germany last summer, he shook my hand, looked in my eyes and thanked me profusely with one glance. Their relationship has shifted, they appreciate one another, and are communicating fearlessly, much more clearly and openly.
A great vision for yourself will change your life.
I had a vision for my parenting. I took so much of my son’s ups and downs personally, and was volatile and downright scary at times. My vision for my parenting was one of a serene, steady Mama, who listened with her heart and knew just where to start when things needed more care. That’s the kind, stable Mama writing this post now, but it took a LONG time (about 3 years of assiduously observing, apologizing and starting over). Because I’ve been sharing my journey across social channels, a wonderful note arrived recently.
“I just had an event that happened at my house that made me think of a Facebook post you had a little while ago. My son got himself a drink of juice then put the container back in the fridge without the top on tight, causing juice to spill all over the fridge. He immediately got scared. What normally would have happened is I would have gotten angry, yelled. He would be more upset and cry. My husband would have gotten upset. We probably would have ended up fighting. My son could be left feeling horrible and then I would have enormous guilt. Our night would have been ruined. Because of your honesty and wonderful teachings, I was able to take a breath and calmly tell him it’s ok and to go watch television while I cleaned up. My husband then came out and didn’t react, just helped me clean up. Now we are continuing to have a peaceful Friday night. It could have been so different.”
Twice yearly, I offer a four-week teleseries on this practice, and the next one begins in March.
One thing to keep in mind. If you have a vision, even if nobody else near you is doing this work, it can still come true!
Have a vision, and everyone around you will learn from your example.
2. Learn from the most important teacher: YOU. We all have a list of things we’ve done (or others have done to us) that haunt us, incidents that keep us in a state of low-grade anxiety. This anxiety, these circumstances, are always there lurking in the back of our minds as things that still hurt – but we don’t realize how impactful this can be. Those chronic stresses can eventually hijack our health. In the coaching method I practice, we learn to listen to ourselves, make authentic lists of what hurts, identify emotions, assumptions, and who/what else is being affected. Then we begin crafting elegant conversations where possible to create some space around the hard facts, and start the process of healing. And in cases of folks who’ve passed on, or who are ill, there are ways to create healing “conversations” that clear space for all involved.
You are your own best teacher and ally.
3. Apologize. Our apologies create safety and ease for everyone around us. If our dream includes a healing dialogue, our kids, spouse, friends and colleagues need to witness us practicing clear communication of our mistakes. With some coaching, you can derive your apologies directly from your list of haunts – and free up your mind, your nervous system and your heart.
Even when it seems unthinkable, every apology opens a door.
4. Ask for feedback and receive it well. This is a lifelong process. This means that if there is friction in any of your relationships, instead of pointing fingers and blaming others for the issues, ask how you can be better, how you’ve contributed to the dynamic, or if there is anything the other person would like to share with you – and hear it with grace. Since you are the one who’s curious about how you can be better and believe in yourself, you are also the one who has the privilege of creating the safe space. If you’re initiating the process of learning and healing, you’re serving those closest to you.
Receiving feedback gracefully is your privilege and your service.
5. Learn and practice meditation. My teacher Thom Knoles is a master of teaching effortlessness – he has a way of describing all the fluctuations of your mind as your mind’s noble way of seeking contentedness (!) and not a problem. Especially effective as an antidote to the most stubborn addictions, compulsions and opinions, meditation is about allowing for the natural process of slowing the body’s momentum to release long-held stresses lodged in your cells. Since making meditation a non-negotiable reality, I’m less likely to skirt around the truth and try to please, and more likely to just be kind and clear in the first place.
Meditation helps us create circuits of kindness, health and positive change.
Mama, founder and co-owner of VIRAYOGA, and co-author of Art of Attention, Elena has taught yoga since 1998. Through her teaching, influenced by several traditions, Elena offers yoga as a way to approach our world with realistic reverence and gratitude. Her classes are a masterful, candid blend of artful alignment and attention cues for your body, mind and heart. From the Museum of Modern Art to the Great Lawn at Central Park, from the playa at Burning Man to the Eiffel Tower, Elena is honoured to offer larger-scale experiences of yoga, but her true service is in shifting awareness within the smallest interactions; one family, one household at a time. She’s been featured in the New York Times, Yoga Journal, Element Yoga for Beginners DVDs, ABC News and NBC News. As the Executive Producer of On Meditation, she is curating a project about the relevance of meditation and its benefits. Elena has contributed to Yoga Journal, Yoga International, Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, Positively Positive, The Chalkboard Mag, TheDailyLove, and Elephant Journal, and is a Beauty Ecologist with Pangea Organics, part of the movement to bring organic, all-natural beauty care products to millions of households worldwide.