Welcome to the third instalment of my October guest blog series on self-care. The inspiring coach, blog and author Hannah Liley talks about her journey in becoming passionate about the importance of loving and taking care of herself. Last December, Hannah found herself in the position of not wanting to leave her own house, and feeling unable to look in the mirror. Hannah has kindly offered to share with us all her realisation of how important self belief and self-love are, if we are to embark on truly fulfilling lives. Learning to love ourselves is perhaps one of the most important basic self care needs of all, and Hannah expresses this beautifully through her writing.
About Hannah Lilly
Hannah Lilly is a running coach, life coach, motivational speaker, blogger, author and Huffington Post contributor based in Mullingar, Ireland. In both her twin passions, writing and motivational speaking, Hannah focuses on using the power of one’s mindset to create the best life possible. She is currently writing a book about her own six-month, life-changing experiment; the book is titled The Secret Experiment- My 182 Day Journey To Live My Very Best Life.
Having coached hundreds of runners to reach their goals inspired Hannah to follow her own dream of empowering people around the world to feel good about themselves, to see their dreams as reachable and to create lives they love. Of particular importance to her in her motivational talks, workshops and writing is instilling self-confidence in children and teens so that they too can embark on a lifetime of satisfying work and emotional lives. Hannah began her own work life at 16, waitressing and working as a make-up artist. She is the mother of Jessica and Leon, a dog named Dora and a cat named Lilly.
Visit Hannah’s blog at www.hannah-lilly.com
This year my life changed forever – I went from absolute rock bottom and wanting my life to be over -to feeling excited about each and every moment - I changed the way I treated myself, became my friend and my life was transformed.
I believe we have two voices in our minds. One encourages self-belief, self-esteem, confidence – all things we are born with- it tells us that “we can”, makes us feel good and believe that everything is possible.
Ask a child what they are good at and they will likely claim “everything”, small children will stand in front of the mirror in awe of the beauty they see before them, they will proudly show you pictures they’ve drawn and tell you how good they are.
At some stage this voice is joined by another the one that tells us “we can’t” bringing with it self-doubt, fear and guilt. It is inevitable, it will come, but this year taught me that the more we work on feeding the voice of positivity the weaker and less powerful the other one becomes. It’s about tipping the balance and listening to the one that is going to move you forward not hold you back. And the more we encourage our children to stay believing by reinforcing their voice of positivity the more we increase their ability to embark on their very best lives.
The negative voice in my head began to grow louder when I was around 8 years old. This was when I first began to question whether I was pretty enough, thin enough and it was around this time that I began to start thinking about ways to change my body and a lifetime of dieting was to begin. There are a variety of incidents around that time that probably triggered my way of thinking but I know that I can’t change the past and now I’m grateful for all of them- they brought me here and made me who I am today.
Much of my life was I was happy “enough”. I had a great relationship, two healthy children, and a steady job. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with always dieting, never being happy at the reflection looking back at me. I was constantly setting goals, rarely if ever in the moment with my mind fixed on some time in the future thinking when I looked a certain way or achieved something else that I would feel fulfilled. The fulfilment never came and on reaching one goal I would quickly set another. Every few months I would wake filled with sadness sometimes lasting days other times weeks and I would look out of my kitchen window thinking “is this it?” remembering all the dreams I had as a child. Then I would be consumed with guilt that added to the sadness for even thinking this way.
Always smiling on the outside and considering myself a positive person it was only on reading The Secret last August that I became aware of how much negativity I unwittingly allowed into my life. When I became aware of the choice I had to try and replace negative thoughts and feelings with those that were positive I started to feel a lot less stressed and much happier.
At the time I was following a strict diet and training routine as part of a two year goal to become a bikini competitor and it was after the competition that I began to slide towards my rock bottom. The weight I gained and lack of control over my food caused me extreme anxiety that culminated in me contemplating ending my own life during the Christmas holidays.
This was my turning point I knew I had reached the place where I had to make a choice about the way I lived my life. This was not a life I would look back on and admire, I was not the person I wanted to be.
So I created an experiment inspired by The Secret and the power of my mind set. I wanted to see what my mind was capable of. Knowing that feeling good isn’t so easy if you feel bad I created feel good triggers/rules that I would follow daily for 182 days.
My life will never be the same because from day one of introducing this new mind set into my life I began strengthening the positive voice in my head. From gratitude, switching criticisms to compliments and changing every complaint to a thank you. Showing kindness to others and crucially kindness to myself. I would smile at my reflection when I brushed my teeth something that was so difficult and forced – which highlighted how badly I felt about myself.
I blogged as I went but with no pressure to be perfect at it. Over the 182 days I truly learnt the meaning of self-care and that while the support of others is hugely important and valuable in any journey of recovery, in the quest for our best life it is vital that we support ourselves too.
That means accepting that you are right now in your imperfection perfect, that you can’t change your past but you can create your future. It means taking the time to listen to how you talk to yourself, asking would you talk to a friend or a child the way you talk to yourself. Making a commitment to becoming your friend.
To put yourself first is not selfish, it is vital. Now that I love myself I am a better mother, girlfriend, friend, and daughter. I am happier and that has a never-ending ripple, effecting everyone I encounter.
We listen to and believe what we tell ourselves good or bad. During this experiment I created a truth that I wanted to believe in.
To live our absolute best life we have to feel good about ourselves, we have to be able to look in the mirror and say I love you (I know that makes some people uncomfortable!) it is the most important story in the chapter of my life.
I don’t think you have to hit rock bottom to want to live a better life, or need to treat yourself better. This year I learnt to love myself and had I worked on that 20, 15, or 10 years ago I never would have had to.
“How we feel determines how we feel about our lives but how we feel about ourselves determines how amazing they can be”