100,000 Ways To Love Yourself

100,000 Ways To Love Yourself

I used to be quite good at letting myself down. Promises and commitments made to others were always easier to keep than the promises and commitments I would make to myself. 

I’ve often heard that you can’t love others until you learn how to love yourself. Yet some of the kindest, most compassionate and loving people I know often struggle with treating themselves the way they so instinctively treat others.

Much of this stems from a distorted sense of worth and self-image. For those, we see them so differently from the way they see themselves. It feels like something a great many have quietly struggled with in differing degrees. I know I’ve had my challenges. We know who we really are, we tell ourself, and often we struggle showering the person who we tell ourselves we are with the same kindness and compassion we freely give away to others.

For me, not keeping commitments to myself was one of my ways of not showing myself the love. It was my way of subconsciously me keeping me more like I’ve always been. Setting goals and actually accomplishing them would make me a different person, different from the person I’ve always accepted myself to be. Letting myself down was just my way of self-regulating and keeping me who it was I told myself I was.

Five years ago I presented myself with a challenge. A challenge of commitment. A challenge of commitment to myself. Something simple. Something I would always have time to do. Something I knew I could perform which meant that the only reason why didn’t do it was because I chose not to.

Push ups.

Every day.

Equal in number to my age.

For five years.

100,000 push ups.

I wasn’t good at push ups. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do 50+ push ups all at once. I’d certainly have to break it up into several sessions per day. But this was the challenge I presented myself with. I called myself out. If I couldn’t find the time to do my push ups every day, why would I think I’d be able to keep any other more meaningful and significant commitments in my life? Like, Pete, if you can’t do this, don’t waste any more time thinking that you’ll ever be anything more than you already are. 

And with that, I started. It wasn’t easy at first, but I kept with it. I kept track of my progress on the whiteboard I have at home. The number of consecutive days and the total number of push ups completed. The entire family knew of my commitment and now they could graphically see if I was actually keeping my commitment to myself.

It was a significant test for me to learn about keeping commitments made to myself. A test that would tell me about who I really was. A test that would tell my family about who I really was.

Five years later? 100,000 push ups completed. The only thing that temporarily interrupted my consecutive days streak was a debilitating case of sciatica which rendered me physically useless. I’d accomplished 1,438 consecutive days of push ups before my injury. But I was back at it as soon as I was able to move again, doing extra push ups each day to get me back on track.

Sure, there were days I didn’t feel like doing them. There were days I had gone to bed only to realize I had yet to do my push ups that day. So I got out of bed and hit the floor to do them. Even the day of my knee surgery I made sure I did my push ups before going to the hospital and was able to prop myself up in a manner that allowed me to do them during my recovery. Without missing a day.

Because I promised myself I would.

Commitment and disciple aren’t glamorous. But they are the cornerstone of building anything worth building. Especially when it comes to building a healthier relationship with yourself.

My relationship with me has, in fact, changed. I was quite accomplished at telling myself what I was going to do and never quite actually doing it. Now, there is a much healthier level of self respect. I undertook a five year commitment and completed the task. I kept my word to me, 100,000 times, and with that I learned that I could trust me. With me. Something I had a difficult time doing previously.

It was a significant step in my growing more into who it was I was created to be. Possibilities now feel far more possible.

I still do my daily push ups. It’s simply become a daily habit. It serves as a reminder of the impact taking small consistent steps in your own direction can have in building a new identity about who you believe yourself to be and being worthy of the corresponding self love that comes with it.

That wasn’t my intention.

But that has been the outcome.

What about you? How is your relationship with you? Perhaps there’s one thing you can challenge yourself to do for you to improve your relationship with you?

Receiving The Gift Of Receiving

Receiving The Gift Of Receiving

It was a priceless, transformational moment.

I was sitting on one of the player benches, just trying to catch my breath. The family and I were at the local ice rink, enjoying a couple of hours of ice skating just after Christmas. As a kid, ice skating was a regular weekend activity during the fall and winter months. My skating skills were never that great, but I managed to do OK. Now, some 40 years later, my daughters’ interest in skating has gotten me to lace up the skates once again.

Time has not improved my skating skills.

Apparently, Kyle thought I was pretty good at skating.

He said I was an expert.

I have no idea who Kyle is. He looked to be about 10 years old, enjoying some skating with his family. As I was sitting on the bench, exhausted, Kyle stopped and asked if he could tell me something. Surprised, I said “sure”. He said “you’re an expert at skating. I’ve been watching you skate and you’re really good…like an expert.”

Kind of stunned by what I heard, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.

I’m glad I didn’t respond as instinctively as I often do.

My initial thought was to somehow try and convince Kyle he was wrong. In my mind I’m really not that good at skating. But instead of doing what I’ve often habitually done, I did something different.

I simply smiled and said “thank you”.

How often, when someone expresses an unexpected compliment toward us, do we find a way to try and minimize it? As if we couldn’t possibly be what the other thinks we are?

For me, I’ve noticed that had, in fact, become an instinctual response.

As we go through our life journey we develop a story about who we are. We listen to others, often those we look up to, and their comments, either intentionally or not, greatly shape the vision of who we think we are. We also learn about the power of comparison and how that can further shape our limiting beliefs, further eroding our worthiness and solidifying our vision as someone who shouldn’t be on the receiving end of complimentary words.

And it works both ways. Think about how often we offer someone a compliment or strong positive feedback only to be met with a response somehow trivializing our opinion. If you take the time to notice, you’ll see it’s quite prevalent.

I’m certain that my skating skills are not close to being at the expert level. But in his mind, I was pretty damn good at it, so much so that he actually approached me to tell me what he thought of my skating. With his honesty and sincerity, I felt Kyle deserved a “thank you” and not an explanation as to why he was wrong.

I was touched by Kyle’s actions and words. I hope he continues to express his positive opinions to others when he sees fit. I didn’t want to ruin this experience for him. I didn’t want to show him through my own words what minimizing yourself looks like.

Thank you, Kyle, for helping me be better at being me.

Sometimes allowing yourself to receive a gift is more important than the actual gift itself.

photo credit: Ben White via Unsplash

Here’s What To Do When God Tells You That You Suck

I wouldn’t want to have that conversation. A conversation where God calls you into the office and tells you that you suck. That you’re less than perfect. That you are inherently flawed. That you are physically/intellectually/emotionally inferior. That you just aren’t good enough.

The good news is God would never call us aside and tell us any of this.

Yet how often do we have this very conversation with ourselves?

THREE VOICES There are worldly voices surrounding us which quite often influence our own opinion of who it is we think we are. These voices come in several dialects, but usually all they do is work Continue reading “Here’s What To Do When God Tells You That You Suck”