Americans in general and American women in particular are suffering from a terrible disease. It’s the “malaise of discontent”; the malaise of longing for what we think we don’t have. It’s contagious, but usually not fatal. Instead, it’s a wasting disease. It lays waste to self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s transmitted via social interactions and by paying attention to the media.
Symptoms include repetitive negative self-talk that sounds like this: “I’ll be happy when I lose twenty pounds. I’ll be happy when I get pregnant. I’ll be happy when I get a new job. I’ll be happy when we get a new house.” Other symptoms include jealousy toward what others have and constantly comparing yourself to others in unflattering ways.
This disease keeps us stuck in whatever situations we say we don’t want, because it keeps us focused on what we say we don’t want. The Law of Attraction is very clear on this point: we draw to ourselves anything we spent our time, attention, and emotions on. The Universe doesn’t care if we’re focusing on positive or negative things; it doesn’t judge us.
Let’s use weight as an example. Often in a long-term relationship, women will gain weight. Some of the reasons for the weight gain are childbirth and the ensuing lack of time for exercise, poor eating habits because of lack of time or information, and emotional eating. Whenever we try to lose weight, or even change any old patterns, because of negative self-talk, we are doomed to fail.
Why are we doomed to fail? Because our negative self-talk will sabotage us every time. It will say things like, “You’re fat; nobody will find you attractive looking like that. You’re on another diet? Why bother, you’re just going to fall off the wagon again.” Your negative self-talk is the manuscript in the movie of your own discontent.
There is a four-step process we can use to successfully re-write the story line of our movie from one of discontent to one of happiness:
1. Acceptance: take a good hard look at your situation with objective eyes. Acknowledge what’s true and accept that you are in this situation so you can learn some kind of life lesson. With acceptance comes the possibility of loving what is.
2. Learn the lesson: whatever it is, it’s to teach you to love yourself more. Whatever version, whether it’s “I’m unworthy,” “I’m unlovable,” “nobody understands me” or something else, at it’s core it’s about learning to love yourself just as you are in this moment. Once we understand the lesson, we can experience gratitude for the situation, even if it’s negative or painful. We can begin to learn how to love what is, even if it’s not what we might prefer.
3. Decide what someone who loved themselves more would do—and do that. For example, if you’re overweight from eating unhealthy food, you might decide that if you loved yourself more, you would cook healthy foods instead. Alternatively, you might decide that if you loved yourself more, you would make time to exercise five days a week.
4. Commit to doing that thing for one day. And then commit again the next day, and the next. It sounds trite, but it really is important to take it one day at a time. If you lay out a big plan for how you’re going to change your life, your ego will tell you all the reasons it won’t work and will try to sabotage you again. If you try it for just one day, you’ll find less resistance.
While you’re working on this new strategy, you can remind yourself that you’re learning how to love yourself more. You can focus on those things you already love about yourself, and express gratitude for their presence in your life. And you will find yourself, one day at a time, learning to love what is. Eventually, what is on the outside will be a beautiful reflection of the self-love you experience within.