Photo by Gregory Hayes on Unsplash

Last week, I was inspired by Mel Robbins’ #MindsetReset to take on the challenge of not complaining about anything for 24 hours. No thoughts about why something isn’t the way I want it to be, why my kids don’t listen to anything I say, why the weather is so damn cold, or anything. Just 24 hours. ‘No big deal’ right?

I decided that I would do this as I was brushing my teeth before bed. I could sleep and wake up several hours into my challenge without actually having to do any heavy lifting. I thought it would be a great way to get a head-start on the challenge. But as I was standing in front of my mirror—just 5 seconds after making the commitment to rid myself of complaints—I noticed my thoughts veer off the nicely paved road of challenge-success and down a dirt path of complaints. And I wasn’t complaining about anyone or anything, but rather, I was complaining about myself. And it wasn’t even in the form of words, it was in the form of me instinctively pinching my stomach to see how much I could grab onto. So I can judge myself and complain about just how long it’s been since I last worked out.

Since then, I’ve noticed that I do this all the time. I pinch at my stomach, I look in the mirror to see if I can spot the slight bit of “extra”, and I keep shirts that are just snug enough hanging in my closet—all so I can feel terrible and complain about myself every chance I get. How cruel!? 

This is what the first 5 seconds of actually paying attention to my thoughts brought me. And boy did it feel terrible to know that I am actually not accepting myself. Especially since—for my entire life—all I’ve ever wanted was to be accepted by those around me.

How in the world would I expect others to accept me if I didn’t even accept myself?

The more the challenge went on, the more I realized that this wasn’t just about an extra few pounds. This was about everything. My intellect, my physical abilities, my physical appearance, my relationships, my self-worth—my everything.

And to make matters even worse, if I am not accepting myself, and others choose not to accept me either, then it means that I would be completely alone. Not cared about. Not loved. Not needed. Not worthy. Not good enough. Sure, I know—intellectually—that this likely isn’t the truth, but that is the reality that I had created for myself. A reality where I absolutely needed others to accept me. A reality where not being accepted felt like… well, dying—at least in my mind.

This self-fulfilling and self-destructing pattern has kept me trapped my entire life. And I’m not the only one that—at least at some point—falls into this trap on a daily basis. What I learned is that the way out starts by increasing our awareness. By noticing it. By policing our thoughts—one thought at a time. And then by having compassion. Lots and lots of compassion. Because what we will find will likely be very hard to accept. Because to accept ourselves, we must first be willing to accept just how mean we truly have been. So please, give yourself a break and love yourself—because you are worth it.

Author: Rabee Alwan

Life coach, engineer, project management pro, runner, father of 3, living and loving life.
Loving the meanest person you know
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