My heart goes out to a fellow blogger, Allison, who has bravely admitted that she has an eating disorder and needs some help, inspirational words as she begins to battle to a healthier, happier self.

My last two posts have been dedicated to my own search for self love and my aha moment.  So I am posting what worked to make my aha moment happen.  I hope that it works for you too, lovely Allison.

The exercise that I did yesterday is called the Restructuring Wheel and it comes from the book Choosing ME before WE by Christine Arylo.

The exercise asks you to grab a sheet of paper, draw a circle and write “Self-Love” and “Putting My Happiness First.” Next, at what would be the compass points, write the following words: Beliefs (North), Images (East), Opinions (South), and Attitudes (West).

Your next step is to explore each of these areas and how they apply, in your mind, to the premises of “Self-Love” and “Putting My Happiness First.”

Arylo starts with images, asking you to think about images of self-love and personal happiness that you have seen in the media or in your life (past/present)–what comes to mind when you think about people loving themselves, women putting their own happiness first?  You are to write down all the images that appear to you.

Next, move to Opinions.  These are influenced by friends.  In your teen years and twenties, what opinions did you form based on what your peers thought, about loving yourself and making your happiness a priority?  What did you learn about self-love at this time and making it a point to be happy?  What did your friends think?  What, if any, opinions about happiness and self-love could you freely express?  What would have been taboo to think, say or do?  What did  you need to believe in order to fit in?

Attitudes are next, which are influenced by your family.  What ideals about loving oneself of putting one’s own happiness first did your family either admire or disparage?  What attitudes and behaivours were/were not acceptable in your family?  What common phrases did your family members use to express their beliefs about self-love or happiness (ex: “Always put others first” or “thinking about yourself is selfish”)?  What familiar patterns have caused repeated behaviours throughout multiple generations (ex: grandparents, mothers, aunts, daughters playing subservient roles in the family)?

The final area to examine are your beliefs, which are influenced by formal institutions like school, religious institutions.  What ideas about self-love and happiness were instilled in you by these institutions during different times in your life (childhood, teens, etc)?  Even if these beliefs changed as you aged and progressed through life (ex: went to college or changed religions), write them all down–whatever you were taught, whatever influenced you along the way, write it all down.

Next, look for three things in your notes: Common Themes, thoughts that disturb you and you would like to change and ideals that you really like.

I hope that this will be a good start for you, Allison.  I know this exercise brought up a lot of stuff for me, and it takes awhile to process.  I will pop the next steps into my next post, with the results of my own journey.

Much Luv,