“Challenging times are often accompanied by anxiety, impatience and a deep sense of uncertainty. When we perceive we have failed in one way or another, we tend to push ourselves too hard, be overly critical, and be plagued by our own detrimental thoughts whispering “You are not good enough.” We hold ourselves to unrealistic standards of perfection and then we judge ourselves if we do not live up to them. And the result is devastating.”
One of the side effects of our current pandemic, is that many of us are spending more time alone than ever, and more time online. This may lead to a rather challenging relationship with ourselves, one full of judgement, pain, and anxiety. But, there are some simple ways to redirect this experience towards befriending ourselves. It may feel it’s impossible to rewrite the story of how we feel about and speak to ourselves, however change happens on the spot, one moment at a time. Over and over again. And if not now, when? If not us, who?
We have this perception that negativity, judgement, shame, loneliness is the reality of our experience. But when we use a mindful practice to slow down and examine our thoughts with perspective, we can look with more clarity. Are these thoughts true? Are these negative habitual ways of talking to myself accurate to who I actually am? Do the people around me speak to me this way? Or believe these thoughts?
Mindful awareness is about seeing what is real. You have the ability to quickly change your patterns of thought, and eventually change your life experience when you shine the light of awareness on your cognitive processes.
Mindfulness is the flashlight with which we take a closer look. And once we have created the space to examine our experience, we can apply the techniques below.
ON THE SPOT EMBODIMENT
Becoming present to the sensations in our body is a quick and dirty way to snap out of habitual thinking, into being. Our self judgment and negative self-talk exists in our head. A way to stop the broken record is to shift our attention into our body. What sensations are loudest in this moment? What are my hands touching? What do I see/smell/taste/touch/hear? By cutting the momentum of negative thinking, we are given a fresh start, a pause, in which we can change directions. From this place, we have a choice. How would I like to be talking to myself right now? Is this negative habitual place helpful? Does it feel good? How would I like to feel?
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
A common trap is to feel as if we were the only ones who could ever feel this way or to make this mistake, or to struggle so hard, to be incapable at such and such…As if out of the almost eight billion people on this planet, surely we are the ones who could be so foolish, etc…
“The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness.” Brenee Brown
However my friends, we are now, so clearly, in this together! This thing called being an imperfect human doing our best to live our lives. Think about the people you love, the people you care about, and how you have witnessed them in their lowest lows, their struggles, and their triumphs. Yes, we are all human and sharing the experience helps us not feel quite so alone in ours. It is our common humanity, that binds us. Not our successes and triumphs, but rather the whole, wonderful, messy picture.
THE COMPARING MIND
In this heightened experience of social media, selfies, etc…It is altogether too easy to put ourselves down in light of how we view other people. But as a wise man once said, “Don’t compare your insides, to other people’s outsides.” That wise man was a preschool teacher who also said “Don’t yuck on my yum.” Both ageless words of wisdom. Think about it, we see a posed and filtered moment in one person’s life, and think about how we’re doing it wrong. How we are lacking, or losers, or missing out in all these imaginary ways. However, we truly have no idea how anyone else is doing on the inside, from a picture they post of their outsides. So as our mind descends into the hell realm of comparing ourselves and coming up short, rather than build ourselves up using ego and self-esteem methods, we could simply offer ourselves compassion. A simple hand on our hearts, or our bellies. A deep breath. And some kind self- talk, “Oh (insert your name here), ouch. It hurts to feel this way. Yes, I know. I’m so sorry you’re hurting, and I’m here. May I feel loved in this moment. May I feel happy.” And truly pause, to take in the compassion, the wish for your own well being, the moment of contact from you to you.
“If we see our so-called limitations with clarity, precision, gentleness, goodheartedness, and kindness and, having seen them fully, then let go, open further, we begin to find that our world is more vast and more refreshing and fascinating than we had realized before. In other words, the key to feeling more whole and less shut off and shut down is to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing.” Pema Chodron
REWIRE and TAP IT IN
The neuroscience discovery that neurons that fire together, wire together, by Donald O. Hebb, has become very popular. And it’s true. When we are used to thinking or acting in a certain way, those grooves grow deeper in our brain, and become the obvious choice for future thoughts and behaviors. However, what we now know is our brains change! Hallelujah for neuroplasticity! “When we learn something new, we create new connections between our neurons. We rewire our brains to adapt to new circumstances. This happens on a daily basis, but it’s also something that we can encourage and stimulate.”
One way to encourage a positive change, is to tap it in. For example, imagine you have just caught yourself in a negative loop, shaming yourself for something you said or did. Using mindfulness, you pause, and breathe, and imagine how you would speak to someone you love. You offer yourself compassion through your breath, your hands, or your words. And then you tap it in. You cross your arms at the elbow, so that your right hand is on your left shoulder and vice versa. And then you alternate hands, tapping your shoulders. This helps our brain, nervous system, emotional body, and more receive the change in order to create a lasting impact.
In conclusion, befriending ourselves is a choice, that we make over and over again. We can choose to listen to our negative self talk like a broken record, or we can begin to make friends with who we are, as we are. It’s a choice that takes commitment and practice, but it just may be the best practice we ever take in, with results that can change our lives forever, and for the better.
Feeling anxiety, stress, numbness or overwhelm are all normal at this time, you are definitely not alone! If you would like additional support, please reach out to us. We are here, and happy to stay connected with you. At the Strength in Motion wellness community, we believe in a mind-body-soul approach towards finding and sustaining balance. We feel honored to be on your path in some way and are here to support you in living to your greatest potential. Click here to find out more information about who we are and how we may be a support to you. We are offering telehealth during this time and free consultations as always. We are here to support you.