YOU ate the last cake. You skipped the gym. You fed the kids fish fingers again. You forgot to call your mum.
Our desire to always do our best can turn life into an endless guilt trip. In small doses, guilt acts like a moral compass that guides us to do the ‘right thing’, but it can easily become an allconsuming, negative emotion that eats away at our self-esteem.
Instead of beating yourself up, first look and see if you can rectify the situation.
Next, be honest with yourself.
Why do you feel so terrible? Past actions cannot be changed, so if you did happen to scoff biscuits in front of Netflix instead of going for a run and dining on steamed kale, so be it. Use your experience constructively.
Stop being so hard on yourself and maybe make your goals a little more attainable.
In the meantime, here’s a short, simple practice specifically designed to ease a guilty conscience and raise self-esteem.
1. CHILD’S POSE
Find a comfortable spot on a rug, carpet or yoga mat and come into a kneeling position. If you have creaky knees, place a blanket beneath your legs.
Lower your forehead to the ground while keeping hips on heels. If your hips lift, place a block (a book will do the job) under your forehead so you are as comfortable as possible. Take the hands out in front of you, palms down.
Become aware of your inhale and exhale. Don’t try and change anything, just observe the rise and fall of the body as you breathe.
Relax the hips and feel your entire body soften and sink. Now take the following positive affirmation and repeat three times in your head: ‘I am doing my best; it is all I can do.’ If this phrase doesn’t resonate, you are welcome to choose something different. Stay here as long as you like.
2. SELF-LOVE LUNGE
Return to an all-fours position. Swing your right foot forward and extend your left leg backward to come into a lunge.
When you feel balanced, deepen the pose by dropping the hips and raising the arms. On your next inhale, spread the arms wide and lift the chest, gazing up to the sky. As you exhale, round the spine, drop the chin and give yourself a great big hug. Repeat this movement with the rhythm of your breath.
After several rounds, hold each lunge position for five to ten breaths.
Find a comfortable sitting position. Anchor down through your sitting bones and feel the crown of the head extend towards the sky. Relax the shoulders and all the muscles of the face.
Now try this powerful cleansing visualisation. As you inhale, imagine a white shining light travelling into your body that fills you with positive energy. As you exhale, your breath becomes a soft dull grey that travels out of the body and takes all your negative emotions with it.
Stay here for five minutes, if you can. Slowly open your eyes and savour the calm, positive centred feeling that you have created.
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First published in the Irish Daily Mail