Recently, I have been thinking a lot about love. Specifically, self-love. Connection is something I desire deeply. Sometimes I do feel love for myself. I feel all glowy and happy and floaty and great. Other times, I feel constricted, frustrated and… not so good.
I was born into a family that loved me no matter what I did. But at some point, I was told that love is conditional. That my worthiness for love and connection depends on some external factors.
I developed all sorts of if/then ultimatums for my self-worth. They easily pulled me away from love and into self-doubt. They go something like this:
If I had more money, then I would be successful
If I were skinnier, then I would be loveable
If I had more clarity, then I would be happier
If ____________, then ____________ (Sound familiar?)
We all know this story. The problem with it is that it’s not true.
yep. As believable as it is to our wounded psyche, it simply does not hold up.
What happens when you finally do lose the weight, gain the money or clarity? That extra money in your bank account doesn't necessarily translate into happiness. Sometimes, this can be confusing. You reach your goal and then you don't feel better. So you set a new goal! And the cycle continues.
Danielle LaPorte, author of the Desire Map, says the solution is not to examine not our goals but our desires. In the new age yoga scene you may have been told that desires are bad (just don’t have them ok? non-attachment please). She (shockingly) suggests that our desires are not inherently evil. That if we examined our lists of wants, desires and cravings, what they will ultimately boil down to is our deep desire...
...TO FEEL GOOD, OF COURSE!
We don’t need to wait to feel good.
Let’s say you have a goal of being able to kick up into handstand. It may be several weeks of practice before this happens, and if you focus on the goal itself you may begin to feel frustrated or discouraged. Asking yourself “why am I not there yet?”
However, deep down what you really want is to feel strong, confident and alive. Feelings that you imagine might come along with doing a handstand.
The question becomes, “what can I do in this moment, today, to feel strong, confident and alive?” Maybe you can spread your toes, feel your leg muscles turning on and reach your arms overhead. You could get all of those feelings from mountain pose.
Or, you could go for a run, write a list of things you love about yourself, do a breath practice… when you are going for a feeling instead of an external goal, suddenly you can get much more creative about how you get there.
Here’s a short exercise you can do right away to get in touch with your core desired feelings so that you can feel GOOD sooner.
Grab your journal and a pen and set a timer for 10 minutes
Begin to free write a list of feelings that you desire. If tangible goals come up (like finding love, making more money etc.) try to dig underneath these goals and find out what desired feeling is driving them (like connection or stability, for example).
When the timer goes off, take a look at your paper and notice if there are any themes. Circle 3-5 core desired feelings that resonate most strongly with you.
I’ll offer mine as an example: Creative, Connected, Nourished, Powerful (make sure to keep it to 5 MAX. Otherwise, it will become overwhelming and stressful).
Come up with an idea of one small act you can do TODAY to feel each of your core desired feelings. You can revisit this as often as you need to.
Here is my list that I will share with you for inspiration. My Core Desired Feelings and how I will practice them today:
Creative ~ dance in my morning practice
Connected ~ make eye contact with a stranger
Nourished ~ eat 3 balanced meals today
Powerful ~ kick up into handstand
Loved ~ block out 30 minutes of alone time
I hope that this exercise is fun and helpful for you! Please hit reply and let me know what your top desires are ~ I’d love to hear from you!
I have made a year-long commitment to practicing self love. You can follow my journey on instagram @kelsitaram. It has been gettin pretty real, so I hope you enjoy and it inspires you in some way.
I hope to connect soon through the interwebs or on the mat.