I don’t have a formula for self-love. But there are these small things I do that contribute to charging my love battery. I have a habit of putting out challenges on social media, and I have developed a very clear understanding of why I do it. The moment we put things out there in the world, it compels us to stay honest with ourselves. Isn’t that the very essence of self-love? To be authentic and totally honest with oneself? So many relationships suffer because there is no honesty between partners. By that I don’t just mean fidelity. I mean being honest with oneself and then communicating that to the other person. Communicating where one truly stands in matters of emotion, in matters of the heart. Without projection, without stories. And here we are, dealing with the greatest relationship of them all . . . the relationship with oneself. Being dishonest is not an option. When we meet a person with authentic presence, we notice an air of irresistible genuineness around them. That can be quite overwhelming because it is so pure and honest and solid. The person has obviously done the inner work and made the journey to earn that kind of authenticity.
So when I post a ‘100-day challenge’ on social media, I’m not just trying to inspire others to get fit, I am actually keeping myself honest and accountable. I post my workout results of the day for everyone to see. Not for self-validation, but for self-commitment. It keeps me going. Irrespective of how crazy my day looks, I will find that window to work out. Be it forty-five minutes of exercise, or a brisk walk of minimum 10,000 steps. That’s the other thing. One has to give oneself some room. Forty-five minutes of exercise OR 10,000 steps. Be reasonable and give yourself a choice. Maybe you’re simply not in the headspace for exercise that day. Instead of forcing yourself to do something that you really don’t want to do, it’s better to find an alternative. Else, it becomes a form of violence towards yourself. That kind of attitude will eventually create a disdain for exercise itself, and that’s not helping anyone. So, be kind to yourself. Be gentle. And yet, firm in resolve. That is the cornerstone of self-compassion. That is self-love.
Despite all the criticism around our constant fixation on social media, I believe that social media helps me be the best version of myself. I put out so much positivity on social media, I don’t give two hoots about what the trolls have to say. People say all kinds of nasty things online. You’re so old. You’re so ugly. Dress your age. And that’s just the polite stuff. There was a time when that would really make me upset and disturbed and angry. I would go through the messages and delete them. Now, I actually take pleasure in keeping those messages. They don’t mean anything to me, but somehow they motivate me to stay true and not get affected by what others think. I channel my energy to find new ways to keep myself going. I find new ways to shoot my own videos. I think up new creative exercises. And it keeps me honest in the sense that, every day, I talk about my one hour of exercise. Every single day. It helps me be the best version of myself. Maybe nobody is checking . . . but who knows, maybe somebody is. All I know is that I’m being true to my commitment, I’m putting it out into the universe. And that keeps me going.
For me, sugar has been an inner battle going as far back as I can remember. It’s a classic love-hate relationship. It’s taken me half a lifetime to simply accept the fact that I have a genuine liking for sweets. I have gone through long periods of abstinence and then binged like crazy. Sometimes finishing huge boxes of chocolate all by myself. And then, of course, the whole cycle of feeling sick about it, going through a guilt trip and beating myself up about it, and then, making yet another vow of abstinence. Repeat. I was sick of this pattern. I decided to go for a few sessions of hypnotherapy to understand the workings of my mind when it came to sweets. And then I had a sweet realization. Instead of approaching the whole thing with fists up, I decided to look at it with eyes of kindness. Yes, I do have hectic days. Sometimes, nothing goes as per plan and things go awry. And maybe I need that little piece of chocolate at the end of the day just to feel good. What’s the big deal! Maybe I just need that physical sweet to remind myself that life is sweet, life is wonderful.
A couple of years ago, I made a resolve that I needed to ‘quit’ anger. Or anger needed to quit me. I literally announced it to myself and my close friends, saying, ‘Henceforth, I will never be angry.’ Well, easier said than done. But I was determined to get to the root cause of my anger and find some workarounds, a deeper understanding of my trigger points and the source of my anger. The experience was an eye-opener and a big step. From the time I underwent the sessions, I’ve had three situations where I’ve come close to succumbing to anger . . . the latest being just a few days ago, following an event in Dubai that went off-track. But the big one, of course, was with Raj!
As human beings, we are all riddled with patterns. And I’m constantly breaking so many of mine these days. Lack of belief in myself is one of the biggest patterns I’ve broken. Because I’ve always suffered from insecurity. But now I know that there is enough work for me. I know that if I ever pick up the phone and call someone, they will not hang up on me. If I call someone about wearing my designs, I don’t have to cringe any more. I believe in my designs, my product, and I believe in myself. Even in the case of friendships and relationships, I’ve always been the pleaser, wanting others to like me. The big shift from that is, I believe I am fundamentally a good human being and I am worthy of love.
Excerpted with permission from Happy For No Reason, Mandira Bedi, with Satyadev Barman, Penguin Books India.