Accept everything about yourself — I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end — no apologies, no regrets.

I wonder how many of us can truly say that we are able to accept everything about ourselves?

This quote from psychologist Clark Moustakas is the very foundation of self compassion, yet I doubt that many of us are truly able to say that we live like this entirely!

I know I don’t, there are many aspects of my personality I wish were different.

I used to tell myself I was ‘a f***ing idiot’ a lot of the time, and that ‘I hate being me’. These were daily messages I was telling myself, usually over not being able to find my keys, being late for work, getting something wrong.

Is it any wonder I lived in shame and self loathing when this was my daily self talk?

I HAD to dive headfirst into the nearest bottle of wine just to shut up the noise of all the self hatred! It took me a LONG time to realise that doing that just made the self hatred worse!

I don’t do that now….well, not on a daily basis, and when I do, I catch myself doing it, and stop myself. I remind myself that I am human, that I make mistakes, that I am vastly improved as a functioning human being, and that I try every day to be a little better.

I don’t always get life right, but I try, and when I make a mistake, I pick myself, up, see what I can learn, forgive myself and move on.

Isn’t that the best that most of us can hope for?

The yoga practice of Pratipaksha Bhavanam means ‘replace the negative with the positive’. This practice can be applied to all areas of live, but possibly the most important practice is to apply it to our self talk. After all, the way we see the rest of the world, and the experiences we have in life, comes from the way we see ourselves.

If we think we are ‘a f***ing idiot’ and it is a terrible thing to be that person, then we are clearly going to see life as a very negative thing. Changing that inner dialogue was a big step towards a happier life for me, and it can for you.

When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, or accepting defeat in life as a foregone conclusion, try taking a few deep breaths, step back from the situation and try to reframe that thought, look for the lessons, forgive yourself and move on.

If you habitually lose your keys, for example, as I used to, what can you do to change that? Can you start to put your keys in one certain place when you come in?

The above may be a trite example, but it is the small things like this, that actually snowball into big life changes. When I could never find my keys in the morning, I would be massively stressed before I even left my house. My kids would be late for school, I would be late for work, I would begin my day in a state of high agitation, and I HATED myself from the start of the day!

Beginning to put my keys on a hook on my welsh dresser achieved several goals
• I was able to find my keys
• I began to develop a greater awareness of what I was doing with my keys so even on the occasions when I don’t put them there, I tend to know where I did put them now
• I reduced my daily stress and gave myself one less reason every day to get angry with myself
• The sense of being able to change such a long ingrained habit improved my sense of self esteem and respect. I could see that if I could change that, I could change anything!

We cannot begin to change our inner monologue until we are aware it is there. This is why self study is so powerful. It was only when I started to notice that I was telling myself such powerfully negative messages every day that I was able to change them – before that they were just beneath my radar even though I was the one saying them!

Join me in the  ‘Getting to know YOU’ journaling journey to shine a light on your inner dialogue and open the doors to greater self knowledge and self compassion

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Esther Nagle
Teacher, writer, speaker at Balance and Breathe
Esther is a former alcoholic, smoker and all round stressed out mess. She found the path to health, happiness, freedom and joy through Yoga. She is a passionate advocate for the power of Yoga, and time in Nature, in bringing balance to life, and giving you control over your health, happiness and wellbeing.

Esther is a powerful public speaker, writer and author. Her first book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, has gained many 5 star reviews and has helped many people along their recovery journey.