Go Ahead, Be Yourself!

By Deborah Metzger

I find that most people are their own worst critic; they are tougher on themselves than anyone else. We beat ourselves up over things that we would tell someone else is OK to have done or not done. We analyze situations and think over and over what we “should have, could have or would have” done if we had the chance to do it over. We wonder and worry if what we did today will affect what will happen tomorrow, and, if so, how.

We discussed this topic recently in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class I lead at Princeton Center for Yoga & Health. The idea of judging ourselves, holding onto things that already have happened or wanting to understand things that may or may not happen in the future, is one that all of the students in class related to. One student mentioned she has started to realize through her MBSR homework that she is very hard on herself and doesn’t allow herself to experience her emotions. I looked around as she was sharing this and noticed almost every person in our group nodding. They could relate. I took the opportunity to discuss with our students a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School: “Stillness, insight, and wisdom arise only when we can settle into being complete in this moment, without having to see or hold on to or reject anything.”

You mean just be right here and now, not worrying about what needs to be done tomorrow or what we did or didn’t do today?

Enter mindfulness. Mindfulness is the concept of embracing the moment and letting go of the thoughts and worries about yesterday and tomorrow. This doesn’t mean we can’t plan for tomorrow or reflect on yesterday, but it is making an effort to not get lost in it. Embracing the moment doesn’t necessarily mean enjoying it – there are good and bad moments in every day. If a situation comes up that upsets you, be with that feeling. What is it like to be upset? What triggered you to be upset? Know that it’s OK to be upset, and don’t judge or punish yourself for feeling that way. I know that’s easier said than done, but with practice this can help you handle stressful situations better, and enjoy pleasant ones more!

It’s OK to be who you are. In all your happiness, sadness, anger, elation, sorrow, and love…when you can accept who you are, in this moment, and then you can let yourself BE!