“I do not fix problems. I fix my thinking. Then problems fix themselves.” ~ Louise Hay
Looking back on my life, I came to understand that perfection was my worst enemy. I was raised in an environment of high expectation, and every day in school felt like I was competing with others and fighting to be the best in class.
At the age of ten I believed I was stupid just because my brain couldn’t work out physics and math. I was good with literature, arts, and foreign languages, but that wasn’t a sign of brilliance in the Eastern-European culture that shaped me.
Much later, as a grown-up woman, I didn’t see myself as good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, or successful enough. I felt unworthy of being loved by a wonderful man, unworthy of getting a good paycheck to reflect my skills and talents, too unworthy to apply for a tempting position at work.
My life looks completely different today, and I embrace the new me with much gratitude and joy. I love myself as I am. I am happily married and doing what I was born to do in the world.
So how did this shift happen?
I can recall myself feeling overwhelmed after a long meeting at work, and looking for some inspiration to help me release the stress and feel better. As I was searching for The Secret movie on the YouTube, I “accidentally” opened another video that went straight into my heart: You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay.
Today, I know that was no accident. The teacher shows up when the student is ready—so true! I was so touched and absorbed by that movie, I couldn’t stop watching. Listening to Louise was pure magic; every single word went straight into my heart. I finally felt home, in a space where it was perfectly okay to be me: “I love and approve myself as I am. I am whole and complete and life loves me.”
Over the next year, I discovered the work of other enlightened souls—Wayne Dyer, Byron Katie, and Don Miguel Ruiz—inviting me to precious moments of self-reflection and deep learning. Their teaching helped me to let go of old thinking patterns and cultural limiting beliefs that didn’t serve me well.
After much trial and error applying their wisdom to my life, I have found a new sense of freedom. Here’s how:
1. I’ve let go of the need to be perfect.
I am perfectly beautiful and beautifully imperfect, and this is what allows me to be me.
Perfection is an illusion—it doesn’t exist. I stopped stressing myself out trying to be perfect and now I am always aiming for “good enough.” I have learned to embrace my mistakes as much needed opportunities for growth, blessings in disguise that make me wiser. If I fail at anything, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure, because I am not what I do. Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn. We never lose.
“Your best is going to change from moment to moment: it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz
2. I’ve let go of the need to be busy all the time.
Being in a rush isn’t a sign of virtue. I have learned to listen to my body, and I no longer feel guilty for doing nothing. I know I sometimes need to recharge the batteries of my body and soul, and I don’t feel like I owe anyone any explanation for doing that.
If I don’t have time for myself, I make it. Watching a good movie, listening to relaxing music, reading a good book, singing, taking a walk to connect with nature—I do whatever makes my heart sing.
“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer
3. I’ve let go of self-criticism.
I pay attention to my inner talk; I don’t call myself names, and I treat myself with dignity and respect. I stopped telling myself things I would never tell a good friend. I am enough, whole, and complete.
I have come to understand that in life, we don’t get what we want. We get what we think we deserve. That’s why it’s necessary to believe in ourselves and see ourselves as enough and worthy of the best things life has to offer.
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~Louise Hay
4. I’ve let go of blaming.
I now know that each time I blame someone else, I am making myself a victim. Blaming others for taking my time, my money, or my love is unfair, because I always choose how much I give and to whom. No one can hurt me or upset me without my conscious (and often unconscious) consent.
Instead, I now take responsibility for the way I feel, act, and think. I am in charge of my actions, and I know my future is the result of my current choices. I am what I believe and whatever I choose to be.
“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, it will not change you. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.” ~Wayne Dyer
5. I’ve let go of judging.
I know that everyone is on their own journey, and my job is to focus on my own. I also know that each time I am judgmental with people, I’m reacting to something that bothers me about myself. If I believe you are mean, it means I can also be mean; how could I see that in you, otherwise?
“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgment gives you the power to change them.” ~Byron Katie
6. I’ve let go of making assumptions about what other people feel, want, or think.
I am not them, so there’s no way to know what they’re feeling and thinking.
I stopped making up imaginary scenarios and letting my mind play with me. Each time I find myself disturbed by what people do or say, I know it’s time for a reality check.
From “The Work” of Byron Katie, I’ve learned to examine the thoughts that trouble me and ask myself: “Is that true?” Many of my assumptions likely aren’t. For example, I might assume someone doesn’t like me, when really she’s just having a bad day. Or maybe she’s just shy. Not everyone is the same.
The moment I realize I can’t know what this person thinks, simply because I am not her, my mind gets clear and I am able to meet her with an open heart.
“I found that my unquestioned assumptions were the cause of all war and all peace in my world.” ~Byron Katie
7. I’ve let go of competing with others.
I now know that my need to fight is nothing but my ego’s scream for self-validation. I don’t need anyone to lose any game so that I can feel good about myself. I love harmony, collaboration, and win-wins.
I’ve stopped comparing myself to others. I choose to connect with people from a place of love instead of fear, and I believe in abundance. I choose to believe that we live in a supportive universe, where there is enough of everything and for everyone, including myself.
“Love is cooperation rather than competition.” ~Dr. Wayne Dyer
8. I’ve let go of chasing happiness.
I no longer project my happiness into an imaginary future, hoping that someday, when I have that job, that house, that car, that success, I will be happy. I have learned to find happiness in the small pleasures of life, and I embrace the only reality that is, the present moment, with gratitude and much joy.
I stopped waiting for the weekends to feel like living because each day is a gift and every single moment is precious and equally important.
The day I shifted my focus from stressed to blessed, everything changed. I am thankful for everything I am and for everything I have: a healthy body and mind; a loving family; a few genuine, long-lasting friendships I’ve made over time; and a job I love and believe in.
“I have noticed that the universe loves gratitude. The more grateful you are, the more goodies you get.” ~Louise Hay
9. I’ve let go of worrying about the future.
I accept that there are things in life that I cannot control, no matter how hard I might try. Each time I find myself worrying, I keep telling myself “Time will tell.”
I might not always get what I want, but I know I always get what I need. I trust the flow of life, and choose to believe we live in an intelligent universe, where everything unfolds perfectly. Sometimes in life, even the time needs time.
“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it…it’s just easier if you do.” ~Byron Katie
10. I’ve let go of pleasing others.
I no longer seek external validation so that I can feel liked or accepted. Worrying about what others think is a waste of time. Other people’s opinion of me is all about them and what they see in me, filtered through their lenses; it has zero to do with me.
I’ve stopped expecting others to give me what I wasn’t giving myself: love, care, and attention. Loving myself as a whole—body, mind, and soul—is not selfish. I keep my cup full of self-love, and I take good care of my needs and my heart’s desires.
I have learned how to make powerful choices for my highest good without worrying about disappointing people. People disappoint themselves by setting expectations for who they want me to be or what they want me to do.
Saying no to things we don’t want to do is a learned practice and a sign of self-care. If it sounds like a “should,” I don’t do it. I go for the things that feel like a want. My wants come from myself, instead of being imposed on me by others. I always choose how I am spending my precious time and with whom. I know my time is my life, and it’s never coming back.
My life is about me and I have the right to make my own choices. Life is to be lived, not existed, and I choose to live it authentically, with no apologies and no regrets.
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz
My self-transformation into the mindful person I am today didn’t happen overnight. It’s been an ongoing process that required continuous inner work.
Today, I am still a student at School of Life, and every day is a great opportunity for new learning. I know that I have the power to create my own reality, by the way I think. So I make sure I nourish my mind with healthy thoughts, knowing my mind has power.
And now, I would like to hear from you. Are you holding on to any of these things? What’s preventing you from letting them go?