By - Sofia Medrano
When Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am," he probably didn't know how negatively we would adapt his declaration centuries later.
Modern culture has made us all very aware of image, that of ourselves and others. How often have we looked in the mirror and picked out five negative things about our appearance before identifying one positive? If we're being honest, how many of us even focus on any positives?
If you're anything like me, it's usually much easier to take Descartes' statement and follow it up with negativity. One statement I frequent is, "I think I am gaining/losing too much weight; therefore, I am not attractive."
I'm sure we all have a variation or two of "I think" statements, or possibly an entire list. We might even believe them from habitual repetition. Despite the inaccuracies, I find my self-image suffers more and more with each consideration of these harmful statements.
Now, you can't lead a fabulous life if you aren't feeling fabulous about yourself. But how do you turn apprehension into admiration?
Here's a simple remedy: BE INTENTIONAL
That sounds simple enough, right? Perhaps not, but it doesn't take a big shift to practice intentionality on a daily basis.
So what does being intentional look like, and how do we incorporate it into our daily routines? Here are a few ways to put this practice into motion.
Being intentional with your breathing is a small thing that can make a world of difference for you. Start each day with intentional breathing; before you even get out of bed, take five to seven deep breaths. Use this time to set an intention for yourself if you feel called to do so. We don't all wake up wishing that we will be stressed or tired, so visualize yourself as you want to be for the day. As the daily stresses attack, you can revisit this breathing technique when you need to readjust your focus.
How do you see others around you? Do you purposely view your coworkers pessimistically or only see your family in a negative light? We may not realize how damaging this tendency can be to our own mental well-being. From time to time, we forget that we as humans are not perfect, so we cannot expect perfection from those around us. Of course, there is often reasoning to support why we see others in a certain way, but there are instances when we make judgments at first sight. Before deciding how we will ultimately view our daily companions, try seeing them intentionally through a clear lens. Was there a misunderstanding that led to a stop in communication? Are they stressed and not realizing that they are releasing it onto you? Even if the reasons are too painful to move past, choosing to see others with intention will positively impact the way you see yourself too.
Be mindful of where your thoughts go throughout the day. Do you think negatively about yourself after making a mistake? Are you thinking of all the ways that a decision can go wrong without considering the joy that it could bring? It's easy to go down the rabbit hole of disillusion, and once we are there, it's difficult to dig ourselves out. Make it a point to intentionally think of the good in yourself and in all circumstances, even more so when it is a challenge to identify. Training our thoughts to intentionally focus on the positives rather than the negatives takes much practice and patience. Give yourself time and grace to master this concept, and don't berate yourself if you slip up.
Lastly, make it a part of your daily routine to honor your emotions, even when it's easier to bottle them up. We avoid sharing our feelings because we don't want to burden those around us. Why do we do this? We aren't robots; what makes us human is the ability to feel, so don't cheat yourself out of that opportunity. Spend a few moments at the end of your day reflecting on how you feel and truly acknowledge every emotion, even those that are painful or messy. As much as you might try, you can't hide anything from yourself. So let it out! If you are happy, let yourself soak up every ounce of that joy. If you are upset, let yourself cry or find another healthy form of release. Intentionally carve out time to allow yourself to feel and notice how you will begin to see yourself in a more understanding light.
Our daily routines don't have to simply be repetitive and hold no meaning. Weave the practice of intentionality in and watch how the negative "I think" statements no longer hold value. Your self-image will thank you!