NOT LOVING OURSELVES
By ELISHA GOLDSTEIN, PH.D
What stops us on a day-to-day basis from relating to ourselves with love?
Maybe there are thoughts of worthlessness or deficiency? Perhaps there are feelings of shame that drive the unconscious or conscious thoughts that we’re simply not worthy of love, even our own. Self-judgments run rampant here.
It’s just so clear how hateful and violent we can be with ourselves. This negative self-talk is a huge barrier we built against experiencing the love. In fact, going up in our heads is probably the number one barrier we build against feeling emotions in general.
This week, do a little experiment with yourself. Make a conscious effort to see how you talk to yourself. How often are you kind? How often are you self-judging? Is there a way you can be more compassionate with the way you talk to yourself?
Make a mental note these events in your mind.
Do Not Gulp Your Food.
We operate on automatic pilot far more than we think. You may have experienced driving your car for quite some time before realizing that you have been lost in thoughts, daydreams or worries. This is O.K. for some of the time but before you know it, life is passing you by and you are not in the show. You're mind thinks the same old thoughts and you compound them with worries and fears about the future and guilty feelings about the past. Your stress becomes compounded and you are not aware of your part in that process. Mindful awareness is opposed to automatic pilot by offering you a choice to respond differently to stressful, life situations. Mindful awareness gives you a freedom from the mechanical, habitual, and reactive patterns of your mind.
Choose a routine daily activity to practice mindfully. It could be brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, doing the dishes, walking to the car etc. Bring a sense of curiosity to what you're experience. It matters not what you choose but that you make a commitment to being fullly aware while performing the activity.
Internal barriers such as a lack of willingness, impatience, anxiety, and fear are often the most difficult to overcome. If you are fearful or are avoiding sad feelings, understand their universal nature and communicative function, realizing they are not dangerous or pathological, and practicing welcoming them can increase your willingness to have them. Also, differentiating between objective descriptions of experience and judgments and labeling interior experiences as such are all powerful diffusion exercises that can be used to expand willingness and to build tolerance and acceptance when experiencing uncomfortable thoughts. Also, try to recall how mindful and comfortable you were when engaged in valued mindful activities i.e. doing something you enjoy, sharing a moment with a friend, petting your dog or cat. Relive these moments and practice breathing while you are recalling them.