Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves - and other women? In their new book – WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere (Thorsons) – Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel explore how we can transform criticism into compassion. Turn to page 38 of May's The Simple Things for more from Gillian and Jennifer, or try these two mindful exercises:
BEING IMPERFECTLY PERFECT
If we don’t embrace our so-called imperfections then how can we expect anyone else to?
- If you feel yourself becoming afraid that you’re not measuring up to contemporary notions of what women are expected to be, remind yourself that they are unrealistic so instead of trying harder, do the opposite.
- If you’re ashamed of your singing voice, sing out loud. If you worry about your weight, wear something tight. If you wear foundation because you fear your skin tone is too uneven, try not wearing it at all.
- Do whatever it takes to remind yourself and those around you that you are real. You’re not a cut-out from a magazine, so don’t erase those parts of yourself that don’t fit the image. Show the world that you are perfect just the way you are.
This exercise will connect you to that which really gives your life meaning.
1 Have your journal ready and then centre yourself by taking five deep breaths in and five slightly longer breaths out. Close your eyes and imagine you are a much older version of yourself, coming to the end of your life. Look back at your time and ask this older you what has really mattered. What are you glad to have experienced, and what do you care about most?
2 Open your eyes and write down what the older you has to say. Stay in this future state with your wiser self until you feel she has given you all you need to know.
3 Now close your eyes again and allow yourself to time travel back to today. Centre yourself in the present. Take a look at what you wrote down and think about how you spend your time now.
How much of your energy is focused on the things on your list? How many of the items on your list have to do with looks, achievements and material possessions? How many are about relationships and love? If you keep this list in mind you’ll find that the awareness it gives you will gently result in your priorities starting to shift.