If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I love reflecting. Birthdays, anniversaries, accomplishments. Any excuse to take a step back and contemplate a part of my life and see how different things are makes my heart happy. And when things are different for the better, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.
Naturally, I reflect. As I sit and type this, my heart is filled with joy that I am no longer a slave to the voice in my head that “helped” me so much – the voice that encouraged me to obsessively count calories, sneak skipping meals and purging, and unhealthily over-exercise. The voice that promised to “fix” every flaw I had from head to toe. My heart is filled with gratitude that I have the support of my family, friends, counselors, and mentors, who have helped me through this journey and continue to every day. And my heart is filled with pride because I’ve done what I used to think was impossible: learn the incredible importance of self-love and embrace everything about myself enough to know how to mindfully treat my body and mind with the kindness and respect they deserve.
There’s nothing I love more than being mindful of progress. To appreciate even minor accomplishments is an incredible skill I’ve begun to learn, and it’s made me so much happier. After all, it is an important piece of self-love.
Back when I was trapped in the vicious cycle of an eating disorder, I despised everything about myself.
Not only the way I looked but also the way I behaved, spoke and thought. I hurt myself because I thought I deserved it. I never once took the time to say “Wow Sivan, you did an amazing job at getting through the day”. Even my bigger accomplishments I attributed to coincidence or someone else’s doing. Not once did I ever take a moment to think about any progress I made or any mistakes I didn’t make. It was hell.
Years went by, and in those years, I came to the conclusion that a life of self-hatred is a life I didn’t want to live. No, it wasn’t some random epiphany that helped me magically turn my life around in the blink of an eye. It was messy. Really messy. Full of tears and screams and medicines and hospitals. But I somehow regained control. And with the right tools, I learned just how important it was to be kind to myself. I learned how amazing it felt to appreciate myself for accomplishing something.
I learned the power of mindful reflection: taking a pause and looking back on the good I’ve done – like helping others and helping myself.
The practice of mindful reflection is one I try to do every day, even if it’s just for a minute. But during certain special times, I set aside extra time to devote to noticing and appreciating myself and helping others do the same. It’s not about bragging or showing off, it’s about using this practice to strengthen the love we have for ourselves – a skill vital to the lifelong process of recovery.
So I invite you to take a moment and reflect on something you’ve accomplished. It doesn’t have to be something “big” like beating an eating disorder. Maybe you got an A on a test. Maybe you helped out a friend. Maybe you got out of bed in the morning and took a shower. There are so many things we do every day that can accumulate into something incredible. And if we take the time to be kind enough to ourselves to acknowledge these little things, we can day-by-day create the lives we deserve to live.
This week, I encourage you to simply reflect, and join me in practicing mindfulness and self-love, two skills only so few master, yet can be truly life changing.
Photo Credit: Michael Matti