How do you talk to yourself ?

I saw the red dress hanging in my closet. I eyed it lovingly. Tonight was the night. I had just turned 40 and tonight I was going to go out for a much awaited ladies night out and birthday celebration with my lovely girlfriends.

As I slipped into the red dress, my feelings of elation gave way to frustration. The dress fit well for the most part, but what was that bulge I was noticing in the mid-section of the body ? Ugh, that was a far cry from the flat stomach I had been craving for… Surely what I was doing wasn’t enough…There must be something lacking in my efforts to lose the pregnancy weight; I mean it had been 4 years since the birth of my second child. And my thoughts went back to the Indian sweets I savored just last week at a festival. “If only I had the self-discipline to say no. If only I hadn’t missed out many workouts  last month because I was too busy ” !! Clearly something is lacking in me, my resolve, my skills.  After all,  just yesterday, I was told at work that I was “too analytical and technical” and I didn’t have the business acumen to do my job.

My thoughts were a whirlwind alternating between irritation and despair and sweeping away every ounce of self-confidence and joy from that night. And amidst the dark gloomy thoughts raging in my mind, I felt suddenly a ray of light as I was reminded of an advice that my sister had once given me.. Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend.

Simple piece of advice….after all you would never be this harsh on your friend, would you ? Instead of lamenting the last 5 lbs of weight still hanging on, I needed to celebrate the discipline of eating healthy and regular exercise that I had cultivated. Instead of keyholing on the “nots” of my skill set, I needed to play to my strengths. So that night, I decided to pick up the shreds of self confidence scattered around me like torn paper and began to piece together the whole “me”- the good and the bad. I embraced myself, literally and figuratively.

As I reflect back, on that night, I had taken a first step towards my journey of self-love. By accepting – understanding and embracing my strengths and deficiencies, just as is. The practice of self-acceptance is the first step to self-love; and while it can be tempting to focus on your deficiencies…it is all the more critical to magnify your strengths. So if you’ve made it this far in reading this piece, lets do this simple activity everyday…know and acknowledge your strengths. And then stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye and say “ I am….” and complete the sentence with your strength. And finally, put that strength to use in your daily life.

This simple, sometimes silly, act can have a powerful impact on growing your self-love and self-esteem and can actually build a safety wall against any negative self-talk or world talk.

So pick yourself up and give this a try.

And yes, just in case you were wondering….that ladies night out turned out to be one of the best times I had in my adult life. Not only had I welcomed the 40s, I had actually turned a new corner in honoring and loving myself – and accepting who I was.