“There once lived a stone cutter who was unhappy with himself and his insignificant life. Passing by a rich merchant’s home one day, he was awed by its grandeur and the stream of visitors going in. “He must be a powerful man! How I wish I could be him,” he thought.

Astonishingly, he found himself transformed into the merchant. Surrounded though he was by unimaginable riches, he also found himself the object of hate and envy by those less privileged than him. Just then, an important official passed, carried by attendants in a grand procession. “Ooh, how powerful that gent looks, wish I could be him.” His wish came true, and he found himself riding high. All around, people watched him go past, with expressions of fear and hate. The richly embroidered chair suddenly felt sticky thanks to the sun beating down. Looking skywards, he thought, “How powerfully the sun shines, I wish…” No sooner did the thought bloom than he became the sun, burning fiercely from the sky and cursed by peasants and farm laborers!

Then, an enormous, dark cloud blocked the sun. No prizes for guessing the man’s thoughts! He became the cloud, which burst forth with rain, causing floods and misery. Shortly, he felt an irresistible force pushing him. It was the wind – how powerful it was! No sooner did he wish than he became the gusty wind, wreaking havoc with rooftops, uprooting tree trunks, spreading fear and panic. Sometime later, he found himself coming up against an immovable object no matter how forcefully he blew. It was a towering rock. “Oh to be that rock!” thought he. And indeed, he became the rock, hard and invincible.

After a while, he heard the pounding of a hammer on a chisel. He was being changed. But how? Who could possibly challenge his power? Looking down, he saw a small figure at the bottom – it was a stone cutter.”
“Source :Zen Stories”

Sadly, that’s the truth; we are never happy with what we possess or who we are. We frequently indulge in negative self-talk and then feel miserable about ourselves. Sometimes without even asking anyone, we try to make our perceptions about what they think of us and then feel worse. Why is it so difficult for us to accept ourselves as we are? How can we change it?

1. Don’t Compare
Stop comparing yourself with others. Finding it hard to let go of this habit, then start comparing yourself to yourself. It’s easier to replace a habit than to stop it altogether. When you compare your new self with your old self, it gives you a new perspective. Start with where you had started and where you have reached. Are you happy about it or do you not feel pleased about it? Applaud yourself if you like it, and in case you don’t like it, think about how you can make yourself better. What do you want to do? Sometimes just doing this simple exercise lifts all the depressive thoughts.

2. Empathise with yourself
When you are feeling down, ask yourself if your loved one was in the same situation, what advice will you give him. Would you be as harsh as you are with yourself, or will you try to understand them? When you look at yourself from this context, you tend to become less self-critical.

3. Learn to love yourself
When you like yourself more, and your opinion of yourself elevates, then you’ll stop looking for validation and attention from other people. Start by standing in front of the mirror every morning and telling yourself how much you love yourself. It might be challenging to start with for some people, but it will start coming naturally over a while. After some time, you would begin to mean it. Once your self-esteem improves, you will start attracting more people as most of us get drawn to self-assuredness and people who believe in themselves.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff
How many times have you berated yourself for not doing something correctly or not being able to do something altogether? Sadly, we all have our standards of perfection, and when we are not able to achieve those standards, we start feeling inadequate. Not being able to clean your house or cook today? Did you forget to wash your son’s football kit? Please don’t give it a lot of importance. Have you ever come across an obituary that read, “And she never forgot to wash her son’s football kit.” No one cares much for it, and you shouldn’t either.

Self-acceptance is also a step towards accepting others. If you are very critical of yourself, it would not be straightforward for you to take others as they are. Be very mindful of what you tell yourself; remember you are talking to the most crucial person in your life.

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Elizabeth Gilbert

Vibha S Kapil