"Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already."
- Pema Chödrön
It's January: the month of fresh starts, expensive gym memberships and commitments to self-transformation. It's time to shed the weight of your former, undisciplined self (and all those mince pies) and finally become the attractive, productive self you always dreamed of becoming.
Until, of course, February comes around. Or maybe March, if you're really determined. Motivation wanes, the old habits creep back in (along with a healthy dose of self-loathing), and you're back to the drawing board. You know the score.
What if this year, you did things differently?
What if, rather than trying to become a new and improved version of yourself, you decided to embrace self-acceptance? What if, instead of viewing yourself as a project in need of change, you decided to shift your perspective?
No self-improvement without self-acceptance...
Goals are important. They help us to evolve and grow, and live in accordance with our values and purpose. But goals only work if they're supported by a foundation of self-worth and self-acceptance. If you're fundamentally unhappy with who you are, you're unlikely to find happiness in a new car, a new body or a new relationship.
Is it any wonder that so many of us give up on our New Year's resolutions in less than a month, when, so often, they come from a place of self-hatred?
If, instead, we work on building confidence within ourselves, confronting the parts of us we find difficult to love and treating them with compassion and embracing our imperfections, perhaps then we might find a New Year's resolution we actually can stick to.
You don't need to fundamentally change yourself this year - you're good enough as you are. But you can work to shift perspective: to speak to yourself and those around you more kindly and to practice empathy, to become more attuned to the good, and to focus your energy on the things you can control and the things that really matter.