Quite often, I hear phrases like, I'll be happy when....I lose 30 lbs. or when I get a new job, or when this insert any challenging life circumstance has passed, then I’ll be happy. I'm asking, why can’t we be happy now?
We all have goals and expectations of ourselves. Whether we meet these goals or expectations is how we judge ourselves and we all judge ourselves harsher than anyone else does. If we don’t have the body we want, we beat ourselves up about it. If we don’t have the car or the house or the relationship or skills we want, as compared to others, we judge ourselves to a point where we are less than. The truth is, we are perfect as we are. It is these false perceptions of how we “should” be is what leads us to suffering.
I recently did a self-survey on 7 categories of life (health, family, friends, work, finances, personal, intimacy). The survey is designed to measure where I am now and where I would like to be in the future in each category. I judged myself in each area on a rating of 1 to 10 and then criticized myself on how I could be better. A harmless exercise, right?
By doing this, I am basically telling myself what I am currently doing is not good enough, if my judgement is a 6 or a 7. If I didn’t perform to the best of my ability in that moment and my self-worth and self-esteem is directly attached to that performance, is my self-esteem and self-worth going to go up or down? Using these standards and judgments on ourselves, we create self-talk and thoughts that change our feelings about ourselves, which then change our words, actions and habits. Essentially, by judging ourselves at anything less than a 10, we are putting conditions on our self-love. Putting conditions on our self love then affects how we see ourselves and how we express ourselves.
Much like squeezing an orange, what’s inside is all that can come out. If we have all these self-judgments of perceived inadequacy inside us, that is what we will see in others and that is what we will project onto others. We unconditionally love our children and family members, warts and all, but we do not do the same for ourselves. What if we loved ourselves unconditionally and accepted ourselves as we are? What if, in all areas of life, we were a 10 instead of 6’s and 7’s. What if we told ourselves I am a 10, but I am open to learning and willing to make changes along the way that align me with the highest part of myself. This doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t set goals, but it can mean that we can be happy now and not when. Instead of saying I’ll be happy WHEN I lose 30 lbs, we love ourselves as we are now because that is who we are, NOW. We are perfect in this present moment because we can’t be anything else in this very moment. We are perfect now, simply because we exist NOW.
If we can make the best decision in each moment without judgement, we will naturally become better versions of ourselves or versions of ourselves that we can proud of at the end of each day. This doesn’t mean we are not good enough now. It means our 10 now will be a different 10 later. This is how we progress as people, all the while being happy with who we are. If we change our expectations of who we want to be in the future, to committing to be the best person we can be right now, we might suffer less.