Ego says, "Once everything falls into place, I'll feel peace." Spirit says, "Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place."
-- Marianne Williamson
I used to be so hard on myself, when it came to losing weight and my body "flaws." When I walked past a mirror and caught a glimpse of myself, all I could see were the things I wanted to change or perfect. Rarely could I look at myself and find something to appreciate.
I spent years (most of high school and college) chasing a number on the scale. I thought that once I hit that magical number, THEN I could be happy. THEN I could focus on living my life as the confident woman that I wanted to be.
I thought that reaching that number on the scale and fitting into those skinny jeans would finally grant me permission to love myself and the "skin I'm in."
It took some time (and a lot of yo-yo dieting) to finally realize that getting "there" and hitting that pinnacle goal was not the answer to all of my prayers. It was not going to bring the peace I so greatly craved.
What I finally figured out, is that when peace comes first -- when you learn to love yourself on the way to whatever goals you want to achieve -- then a lot of the unfixable "bugs" tend to work themselves out on their own.
Peace breeds success, not the other way around.
How do you learn to love yourself first before you reach your goals? Here are seven steps to finding peace first, which then allows everything else to then fall into place.
1. Forgive and Release
Have you ever thought about how much energy it takes to carry around all of the resentment, anger, and pain you've collected over the course of your life? We tend to hang on to these old stories of victim-hood, explaining why things are the way they are.
We think we need to tell these stories over and over again to ourselves and to others in order to justify where we are in life.
What if you decided you no longer needed to tell these stories? What if it was okay to release their hold over you and to choose peace because, well, in every moment you really do have that choice.
We choose to feel anger and resentment, and we choose to feel peace.
It may not happen overnight, but it is possible to release old stories and pain from the past, forgive ourselves and those that have wronged us, and to give ourselves permission to feel the joy and ease we deserve to feel right now, no matter what has happened in the past.
2. Look for Reasons to Appreciate
Appreciation is one of the most powerful emotions. Yet we often forget that we have so much to appreciate. We could have nine things going well and one thing going wrong and we put the majority of our attention on that thing that is going wrong so that we can "fix it."
We are a problem-focused society. We aim for perfection and if something isn't perfect, we think it's not good enough. My life began to transform when I started deliberately incorporating an "Appreciation Practice" each day.
Try this: Each night before bed, make a list of five things you appreciated about the day. Anything counts. Your fluffy pillow. The nice cashier at the grocery store. Your hilarious co-worker. You spouse doing the laundry without you asking.
The more we look for things to appreciate, the more things appear for us to appreciate. Like attracts like.
3. Practice Unconditional Love
Over the years I've honed my ability to practice unconditional love and unconditional happiness, meaning nothing has to change or be a certain way in order for me to choose to feel good.
Being able to look into the mirror, into my own eyes, and feel unconditional love for myself, even though I am a perfectly imperfect human being, has been one of the hardest and most liberating gifts I have ever given to myself.
I practice (and get better and better) every day. I like to think of myself as a conduit for love. I AM love, allowing it to flow through, to, out of, and all around me. I don't give it JUST when I receive it or with any expectation or attachment to what I receive back. I pretend I am a river, allowing love to just flow because it feels so good to love.
4. Practice Positive Expectation
Do you naturally expect things to work out well for you, or do you expect them NOT to go well? Our expectation affects the results in our life. What we perceive, we receive.
One of my favorite mantras is, "Things always work out well for me." I truly believe that I am always supported. I truly believe that wellbeing abounds. And since that is my belief... circumstances, people, and opportunities line up to prove this to be true.
There came a point for me when I was eyeball deep in "trying to figure out why I couldn't lose weight" where I had an army of doctors telling me I had a laundry list of things wrong with my body (often conflicting diagnoses, mind you).
It was then that I decided, "Enough is enough. My body is an amazing, miracle of a machine, and although I don't have all the answers, I trust that my body has the capacity to heal and find its balance."
It was after that defining moment, that eventually my body did exactly that. (Saying it like that makes it sound overly simple... it wasn't a fast or straight and narrow process, but really... in the end I am amazed at the healing process my body has gone through.)
5. Soothe Yourself
Do you know how to soothe yourself? Like, from within. It's actually quite rare. We are taught to look for answers everywhere but within. We're taught to Google symptoms and read what "they say" instead of having a genuine conversation with our body and the wisdom that comes from inside of us.
You don't need to have all the answers, you just need to learn how to quiet your crazy chaotic mind so that you can settle down and tap into that all-knowing Source within you.
Be easy. Breathe deeply. Close your eyes and slow down. Choose to soothe over stress and the guidance necessary to achieve what you want... will come.
6. Be in the Receptive Mode
Being in the receptive mode is what comes next, after you soothe yourself. It's as if you are a transistor radio, and you are tuning into the signal that guide the way. When we learn to receive (answers, guidance on what to do next, etc.) we begin to realize how true it is that peace comes first, and then the rest follows suit.
7. Be SOUL-ution Focused
This is my new favorite word: SOUL-ution. When we tap into our soul, the solutions come. We are no longer problem-focused, we are soul-ution focused. We are aligned with the ideas, circumstances, events, and people that will ultimately take us more easily in the direction of all of our dreams.
Getting what we want doesn't have to be hard or an uphill battle. Now, we CAN get what we want through hard work, but 'hard' doesn't have to be part of the equation.
Alignment, peace, ease, receptive mode... this is the key to building the life of our dreams.
When you try to get "there" and THEN feel peace, it never works out. You just end up realizing that what you thought you wanted, doesn't actually feel as great as you thought it would.
Start with peace first, and the rest will fall into place... in ways far better and more thrilling then you could ever try to make happen through working harder, longer, or more forcefully.
Sheila Viers is a Health and Life Coach.
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