Today marks day two of the pre-order promotion for Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself, a book about taming your inner critic that features 40 stories from Tiny Buddha contributors.
Over the next month, you'll have a chance to meet some of the book’s contributors through daily interviews here on the blog.
Today’s featured contributor is Alison Hummel of the thedreamadventure.com. Formerly an alcoholic who felt like an outsider looking in, Alison now works offers “Dream Catchers Sessions” to help people live their own “Dream Adventures.”
Her contribution for the book focuses on accepting ourselves and finding gifts in our struggles.
A little more about Alison…
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your self-love journey.
I have come a very long way, but I'm definitely still on my way.
One of the ways I have learned to accept and love myself is through being in service to others. When I see another person struggling with a similar problem—low self-esteem, anger, anxiety, or some other form of negativity—I find it easier to love them through it than I would if I were just trying to love myself through the same thing.
By developing compassion for others, I have learned to apply that to myself.
2. Have you ever felt there’s “something wrong with you”? If so, why, and what’s helped you change your perception?
Yes, absolutely. I believe that is one of my greatest lessons to learn: I am completely fine just the way I am. I think this feeling that there is something wrong with me stemmed from looking outside of myself for validation and acceptance.
When I look to others to validate and accept me and I see other people with different, perhaps better “stuff” or a better body or job, I subconsciously believe I need to have that in order to feel loved.
Acknowledging that this is happening helps me defuse it.
Also, being in nature has been a great tool to accept myself because in nature there is beauty in all things, not just the perfect flower or tree, or perfect sunny day. The best trees for climbing don't stand straight up and the coziest days happen when it rains.
3. Have you ever thought something was a flaw only to realize that other people actually appreciate that about you? What was the “flaw”?
Probably my ability to speak up for myself and others. At times I fear that I am saying “too much” by speaking up, but I know that other people appreciate it because they have thanked me for my honesty and energy. They have said that it gave them the courage to speak up for themselves, too.
4. What was your biggest mistake (that you’re willing to share), and what helped you forgive yourself?
My biggest mistake was definitely hurting the people I love the most throughout my active addiction to alcohol. I am still working through completely forgiving myself. I have heard people say that forgiveness is a journey, not a destination. And I can really agree with that.
I have begun to forgive myself by being there for my family now. By staying sober. By accepting other people's flaws. By talking to myself in a kinder way about my past.
If I have a memory of something that brings up shame, instead of running away from it through shopping, eating junk, or lashing out at someone else, I do my best to just sit with the uncomfortable emotion and practice present moment awareness.
5. Complete this sentence: When other people don’t like me, I…
Must be getting better at being myself, because we are all unique and some people might not like me. I can't please everyone.
6. What are some areas in your life where you’ve compared yourself to other people, and what’s helped you let go of these comparisons?
Oh goodness—every area of my life. I have actually been able to let go of those comparisons through actively trying to be someone I am not. That is very painful. And through that pain, I have had to look for other answers. Being myself is the only show in town these days.
7. What’s one thing you would tell your younger self about looking to other people to complete you?
You will learn your greatest lessons through experience, so if you need to look outside of yourself for completion, do it with complete fervor. This way, you will always have your own experiences to draw upon to make better choices in the future.
I've seen a lot of people flounder in just crummy situations because they were trying to make their life decisions through other people’s mistakes. It's okay to make your own mistakes.
8. Have you ever felt afraid to show people your “real” self? Why—and what’s helped you move beyond that?
Yes, absolutely. I talk about this in my article in the book. The therapy I had for my OCD helped me deal with anxiety and general discomfort. In reality, I don't fear what others think of me; I fear being uncomfortable. Because that is really the worst that could happen. Learning tools to deal with feeling uncomfortable has helped me the most.
9. What are the top three things you personally need to do to take good of yourself, mentally and emotionally?
- Stay connected to my sober brothers and sisters.
- Work out.
10. What’s something you do regularly that makes you feel proud of the difference you’re making in the world?
I would have to say staying sober. I don't necessarily feel “proud,” because I believe sobriety is truly a gift, but I will say without it, I would have nothing. My family is so important to me. With it, I can accomplish anything I set my mind on.
*Note: I edited this post to remove info about the pre-order promotion, which ended on October 8, 2013. You can learn more about Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself here.