One of the first ways we can learn to love ourselves is by uncovering our true selves — who we really are. In his book Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn describes life in two ways. He says life is like a basketball game. There is what is actually happening on the court. And then, there is the commentary of the game.
The commentary can distract us from what is actually happening on the court. The commentary of life includes our thoughts, values and beliefs. Sometimes the commentary is helpful and other times it is not. What kind of commentary have you been listening to about yourself?
To uncover your true self, you need to turn off this commentary. You need to simply watch what is happening on your “court”. Throughout my life my commentary included being clumsy, never measuring up to the women around me, never being quite smart enough, and always being an assistant. A common phrase I used to literally say all of the time was “I’m such an idiot.” It didn’t matter if it was because I forgot to fold the laundry or if I was running late for an appointment. This type of commentary did nothing for me except pull me down.
The True Meaning of Humble
I’ve lived a little over three decades. In this time I’ve done a lot in my life. When people would tell me this, however I’d brush it off and downplay my achievements. What I learned by simply looking at my “court” instead of listening to my commentary is that I am amazing in my own right. If I was watching someone else do the things that I had done and am doing, I would be impressed.
As a society we are encouraged to be humble. Many of us, myself included, have taken this to mean devaluing ourselves and our accomplishments. However, that’s not what humble means at all. Humble means you are not arrogant and that you are modest. When you think you are better than others you are arrogant. When you are modest you are free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness or great pretensions.
You can appreciate your abilities without believing that you are better than others. You can also appreciate your accomplishments without vanity, egotism, boastfulness or great pretentions. Yet, so many of us believe that we cannot do this. We believe this because we feel that even if we know in our hearts we aren’t arrogant and are modest, we’re afraid that others will see us this same way.
In the process of uncovering who we truly are, we must also accept that other people’s opinions are not our truths. Lisa Nichols states in her book Abundance Now that other people’s opinions are just that. Their opinions. However, so many of us believe that they truths.
Growing up I was told that I couldn’t cook. That all I was good for was doing dishes. When I became an adult I really believed that I couldn’t cook. Even as I made meals for myself and now for my family, my commentary was that I can’t cook. However, when I finally took that commentary away and looked at what was happening I was cooking. Maybe it wasn’t the way some of my family members cook. Maybe it wasn’t multiple dishes for extended family. But, it was food that I had prepared from scratch. That is cooking.
When you begin your own journey toward loving yourself and toward uncovering your true self, let go of those opinions. Pay attention to what is actually in front of you. If the commentary won’t shut itself off, change it. Make sure what’s playing is positive. This is one of the most important journeys you will embark on. Once you’ve lit the spark of self-love you will agree.