Episode 99: How to Like You and Your Life
One of the best skills we can acquire is learning how to like ourselves and our life because it affects every other area of our life.
With our brains running the show, we often don’t realize that liking ourselves is an option. We don’t understand that liking ourselves isn’t something that happens to us, but instead, it’s a choice we make by the way we think about ourselves. Liking ourselves and our life is never a result of what we do or what our life looks like—it’s always a result of what we think.
I want to talk to you about how to like yourself, and your life, and that is no easy thing, right? Like, it sort of sounds like it should be easy, but because of our brains biological programming to notice problems, it actually isn't easy. And if you don't like yourself, and you think you should, let me stop you right there, okay? You shouldn't. Technically, you shouldn't like yourself because your brain isn't going to offer you those thoughts that make you like yourself on default. Of course, we don't like ourselves. But we can. You shouldn't like yourself because you're a human with a brain. Isn't that a relief? But you can like yourself because you are also a spirit child of God, with the capacity to direct your brain. Isn't that a relief? So, you shouldn't like yourself, and you are doing it wrong if you don't. But you can. And that is so important to know.
So, the first thing that I want you to understand is kind of obvious, and that is like is a feeling, okay? So, that means that like always belongs in the feeling line of the model, and every feeling, like included, is created by our thinking, or our thoughts. And that means that liking yourself, and your life is always in your control. It is dependent upon the thoughts you think about both of those things.
This kind of reminded me of that movie, "Dan in Real Life." Which is such a good movie, if you haven't seen it. But do you remember when Dan is sending his daughter's boyfriend back into the city, and she's like, "You are a murderer of love!" It's like the best scene ever! Anyway, as the boyfriend is getting in the car to head home, he tells Dan "Love is not a feeling, it's an ability." It's such a good scene. Anyway, what I want to tell you is that like, or love, or whatever you want to feel is a feeling, but it is not something that just happens to you. It is created by you. You do have the ability to produce any feeling you want by the thought you think. And so, in that way, Marty was right, and like is an ability. It is a feeling and an ability. Life is created by what you think.
So, if you don't like yourself, or if you don't like your life, I want you to get really curious about what you're thinking. What do you think of you? What do you think about your life? Because the answer to those questions is, what is producing whatever feeling you have about you, and your life right now? So one of the main reasons that I find we don't like ourselves, or our life is that, of course, our brain is running the show, and we don't realize that it's an option to like ourselves. We don't realize that we are in charge of like. We don't know that we can like us. We don't realize that it's even an option for us, right? But like is always an option. Any feeling you want to have about yourself, or your life is always an option. We think, like is based on things outside of us, but it is always based on the choices we make with our thoughts. And this applies to anything.
We have to drop our conditions to liking, and then we have to be willing to question what we already believe about ourselves. What we already believe about what is acceptable, or unacceptable. So, let's just start with the first one, dropping our conditions to liking. So, each of us has a list, okay? A list of things we think we need to do before we can like ourselves. So, for this podcast, I went back, and I looked at my old list, the one I made when I first came to coaching, and I can still remember how it felt when I made it. Like my coach asked me to make a list of the conditions I had about liking myself. And I remember how much self-loathing, and regret, and grief I felt making that list, right? Because I just felt so bad about who I was, and what I had done with my life. And when my coach had me make this list, there were only four lines on the page that she gave me, and so I only wrote my top four conditions to liking me. But I literally could have filled pages, and pages, of things that I needed to do before that I could like myself.
For example, I wrote, "Before I can like myself. I have to change everything. I have to be more loving, I have to be better, and I have to be worthy of liking." I included that on the same line and then I wrote, "I have to do what I'm supposed to do." Like, I had this list of things that I was supposed to do, from mothering, to exercise, to storing water for emergencies, all of which I wasn't doing. And so, I think this line I have to do what I'm supposed to do is meant to cover all that, right?
I'm inviting you to drop your conditional list because it isn't helping you. None of these conditions are helping you. They aren't helping you change, and they are making you feel terrible.
Next to this list, I had to write how having these conditions made me feel, and I wrote miserable, hopeless, and lonely. Like there's just no upside to not liking. Having conditions to liking you, only punishes you, because then you are the one that feels that not liking. The hopelessness, the misery, the loneliness, and it doesn't change you, or help you attain the conditions any faster. Like even if you could change all the things about you, and wave a magic wand, and change everything, none of those actions, none of those behaviors produced liking in the first place. Liking is just a choice we make, and it is completely independent of any condition, action, or behavior. So, to think about ourselves differently, we need to let go of those conditions. They aren't going to be achieved, and they're just making us feel terrible.
We have to be willing to question our current thoughts. So, right now your brain thinks that its current opinion of you, and your life, is the absolute truth. And when we think that our opinion is the truth, no other options, or opinions ever present themselves to us. So, we have to question what our brain sees as the truth right now. So, I want you to pick one thought that you have about yourself or your life. What is something you don't like about you or your life? It can be anything, right? And once you figure out something that you don't like about you, or your life right now, our work then is to show ourselves that this is just one opinion, an optional opinion offered by our brain. It's just a thought. And whatever it is that we don't like is not actually inherently unlikable.
And no matter what you think about yourself, it's not a fact. And it is your privilege to question everything your brain tells you, okay? So, here are a few questions I'd like to ask myself when I am questioning a thought. The first one is why would I want to think that? Like, really, why would my brain want to think that doesn't look good? Why would it offer me that thought? Remember, my brain wants me to fit in, and it thinks it's more socially acceptable to have thin arms than big arms. It thinks I will have a better chance of survival if I fit into acceptable norms. Except that I don't actually live in a tribe. I'm not actually in danger of being kicked out of the tribe, or being picked up by predators. So, it makes sense that my brain might want to think that, but I don't have to, because it's not actually benefiting me, or helping me to survive to think it.
The last question I always ask myself is even if it's true, why would I want to think it? Like, even if we could prove scientifically that my arms didn't look good, why would I want to think it?
Liking you, and your life is a choice that is 100% available to you regardless of anything else. You can drop your conditions, they aren't helping you to be different and they are creating enormous amounts of pain for you. You have the power to question every thought your brain has if you want. Yes, it thinks thoughts, but you can examine and question and dismiss those thoughts and think what you want. And it is so much easier to like you and your life when you know that this is the exact version you are supposed to be living.
Mentioned on the podcast:
My group coaching program: Made for More
James Clear, Atomic Habits: "Repetition unlocks value. The value of your first workout increases the more you exercise. The value of your first article increases the more you write. The value of your first conversation increases the longer you stay in the relationship. Day one continues to compound.