Before you can take on new habits and behaviors, you have to let go of the old. This is what I call cleaning the filter. Every life has a filter; it’s a lot like the one on your clothes dryer. It’s right there in the front of the dryer with a note that reads, “Clean before each use.” The filter on your life must also be cleaned before each use. It is there to pull away all of the negativity and lint of your life, holding it long enough for you to learn from it and not want to repeat the negativity again. When you fail to clean our filter, that negativity becomes the window through which you see the world. Everything that happens to you in the present, good or bad is viewed through the pain of your past.
The best and most effective way to clean your filter is with new information and ideas, but the difficulty with this is the fact that the old belief does not lend itself to learning anything new. This is why the act of gratitude and forgiveness is so powerful. By forgiving yourself and those who have harmed you, you will be able to receive the new idea and the change your life desperately needs.
A life becomes unbalanced when we fail to appreciate the beauty, joy and gifts we already possess. Look back at a picture of yourself from at least 10 years ago. One of the first things that most people realize is that they were in much better shape than they thought at the time. When we look back we wonder why we thought we were fat, old ugly and all the other wonderful things we’ve told ourselves. You’ve most likely compared yourself to someone else, possibly the models or movie stars we look to as the ideal form that we should inhabit. Curiosity did not kill the cat, comparison did. When we look at someone else and say, “I want to be that size,” we are telling our own self, “I don’t like me.”
If you want to erase the habits of self-loathing and the lack of gratitude, you must learn to be grateful. Before you can get your body to work with you, you must like and appreciate it right now. Remember, it can be worse. I once said this to a woman who was having a hard time seeing her beauty and she said to me, “How in the world can my body be any worse than it is?” I was amazed that she could say this given the fact that she had been seriously ill and near to death. In a few short months of recovery, she had forgotten how bad things were. The very next day, she noticed a horrible rash that began to spread over her entire body. She said that she would never ask that stupid question again, things can always be worse. But we don’t even need to compare to a negative self to appreciate the self that we are.
· Spend the next three days in gratitude for who you are. Write, or record yourself talking and being grateful to your body, your arms and legs that have carried you. You are charging your cells and preparing them to do what they were designed for; healing you.
· As you become more grateful, you will remember instances and events that got you in the place you are in. You may remember being called fat or ugly. You may remember being told that you were worthless. As soon as you recall those events, decide to forgive. Forgiveness is not about letting someone else off the hook it is about getting off the hook they put you on. Forgiveness does not mean that you will allow someone to come back in your life to do the same thing again, it means that you forgo the need for revenge or restitution for the offence and that you will not allow it to happen any longer.
· As you forgive others, forgive yourself. It is too easy to blame yourself for what happened instead of blaming yourself take charge.
· Taking charge is the recognition of responsibility for how you respond. This is not the same as thinking you caused it. It is the realization of the fact that what we cause, we can change. (I may not have caused the name calling, but I am responsible for wallowing in it twenty years later.)
· Clearing out the old tape and replacing it with the new—When you erase the tape you have been playing about yourself, you must replace it with the truth, otherwise the old ideas and beliefs will return. Replace the “I am ugly,” with, “I am wonderfully made.”
If you hired someone and told them that you hated them but planned to work with them anyway, you know that you would not accomplish much. Likewise, you cannot hate your body and expect it to work with you. Love yourself now. Be grateful for who you are, what you do the talents and abilities you possess and what you know. Be grateful that you have taken the time to look at yourself and have started to do the most important work there is; SELF WORK.
Be grateful for who you are, all that you have survived, and for the fact that you are still here.
Be more you more often.
Bertice Berry PhD