Yea! Now we’re really getting down to the nuts and bolts of self love. (As such, like last week, it’s a longish post. Might want to grab that cuppa first:-)
For the next two weeks it’s all about the mind; our greatest yet still most untapped instrument.
The mind can either be our most powerful life ally or our nemesis. It can make us feel ten feet tall and light as a feather or like we want to crawl under the floorboards and hide in the dark forever. Here at ‘Bright Side’ we’re all about creating it as the former.
To start with we really need to meet our minds. So many of us have been running around hypnotized by our thoughts and the emotions that they conjure up for our entire lifetime. That’s why when we step outside of this it is called an ‘awakening.’ It’s as if our minds have us running on autopilot and as such we attract the same old thoughts and feelings about ourselves. We just feel ‘meh’ most of the time, or perhaps, worse than ‘meh.’. We want to be able to take the controls ourselves and know how to fly purposefully into feeling wonderful about us and wonderful about where we’re going and what we’re seeing along the way. As Eckhart Tolle* says:-
“Most people are so completely identified with the voice in the head-the incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it-that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind. As long as you are completely unaware of this, you take the thinker to be who you are. This is the egoic mind. We call it egoic because there is a sense of self, of I (ego), in every thought-every memory, every interpretation, opinion, viewpoint, reaction, emotion.” (‘A New Earth,’ page 59)
As with any introduction though, first we need to familiarize ourselves with our particular mind. Perhaps we discover our ego is pretty well tamed, or perhaps we find its running amok and the source of our feelings of low self worth. So this week is all about becoming the conscious observer of our thoughts, watching its tendencies and grooming it for self love.
I see our time here now as a launch pad to present information to you that you can then go off and enjoy absorbing. Its life-changing stuff so be prepared to have an epiphany or two! Take it slowly-find joy in the journey- this self love course will be here for you to pop back to whenever you need so go at your own pace, relish the material. I’ve presented it in the order I believe will best serve our self-loving purposes, but you are welcome to skip to the material that speaks to you the most. So let us start with…
1) Eckhart Tolle. “This book is about you. It will change your state of consciousness or it will be meaningless.” (‘A New Earth’ page 7). The New York Times bestselling ‘A New Earth’ is not a book that you pop down and think ‘that was nice,’ it’s a revolutionary read that contains in its pages a clear, truth-ringing way to awaken from a bad dream: The nightmare of Ego Possession. To my mind, its greatest gift is showing us, ‘Look, that self critical voice in your head? That’s not who you are. You are far greater than that. You are the powerful conscious observer who is now aware of this voice and aware that these thoughts aren’t really You.’
In my humble opinion, it really is the closest resource you can find to guide you into self liberation. Even prison inmates have reported that- although they may still be behind bars- this book has made them feel entirely emancipated mentally. This, my friend, is true freedom. Its core message is: The only moment that matters is this present moment, the Now. Thing is, if our ego is stewing over what happened yesterday or dreading a meeting tomorrow we’re in an anxious state of suffering. We’re not in the Now, we’re being dragged into the ‘Then.’ Not only does this waste our life away, ignoring the peace and power of this present moment, but it means that we are in a perpetual state of resistance to what is happening right now. Eckhart shows us tools to stop the incessant mind chatter and come back to really inhabit the present moment. Doing so is almost like leaving a smoky, cough-inducing room and stepping outside into the fresh air. It’s a place of Ahhhhh, a place of relief and release.
You can purchase it on Amazon for as little as $4 including packaging and postage, or download it and start listening straight away. Personally I adore the soft, fatherly German tones of Eckhart’s voice so I just love listening to his books. Oprah Winfrey is a huge fan of this book too and invited Eckhart in for a 10 week worldwide Skype event back in 2008, the first of its kind. I encourage you to watch this free exploration of the book.*
2) Meditation is another invaluable tool to really show you that, no, you are not your thoughts but the consciousness observing those thoughts. It’s only really when we sit down with ourselves minus distractions that we can watch the noise of our ego and how-like a monkey- it swings from one thought to another: ‘Did I feed the dog? Can’t remember…this is pointless; I have things to do…have to get that order in today, should I write it down? Can you do that when meditating? Gosh I feel lame.’ Observing this inner voice that has been determining your feelings for all of your lifetime is quite a ‘Wow’ moment. No wonder I’ve felt bad about myself all these years with that critic babbling away fearful thoughts to me!
I recommend you start with mindful meditation.* Essentially all you do is sit or lie down in a space where you won’t be disturbed. Focus on the breath to bring you out of your mind and into the present moment and also as a request for your mind and body to relax. You’ll no doubt start to witness thoughts bubbling up. Just observe them, don’t jump on them and let them sweep you away and don’t add fuel to them with your emotion. Just watch. Imagine they are simply clouds moving through the blue summer sky of your mind. Try and maintain this for 5 minutes a day, and then increase as you feel appropiate. Whenever you feel your thoughts running off with you, consciously breathe again for that access point back into the Now. It’s a challenge, my friend, this is why it’s called a practice. But the inner peace and clarity you generate during and after meditation is rich reward. Meditation reduces stress, anxiety, the risk of dis-ease…golly, the advantages of meditation are worthy of several articles.
3) So the two tools above have helped us to get familiar with the workings of our mind. If you suffer from low self esteem you may have noticed that you have a self depreciating filter that oftentimes criticizes, complains and picks fault with you. As we have learned, Eckhart calls this the Ego, whereas Psychologist Dr. Aziz* calls it the Critic. Dr. Aziz notes that this self critical filter tends to color every experience. Say for example you believe yourself to be a rubbish public speaker. You give a presentation which actually goes pretty well. But because your mind holds the belief that you are no good at talking in front of a group it will actively ignore all the positives from your speech and scan for teeny errors to back up this belief. You can see how this is a very damaging self fulfilling prophecy.
Try this experiment of Dr Aziz’s: Look around the room you are in now and note all the things that you see that are red in color. Now; how many things did you notice that were orange? When I did this experiment I hadn’t mentally noted any orange things. That’s because my mind had a filter on it and was only searching for red-or self deprecating- items. Can you see how blind our minds can be to seeing our good?
Now we can see how warped our ego’s perception can be. It sees what it wants to see. And this is the voice that has been determining how we feel and act! What we need to do is stop mindlessly accepting what this inner critic says and start questioning it. Your critic/ego may say: “You really just said that?! Geese, Woman! Goodness knows what they think of you.” You-as the now aware observer-can challenge this voice. It’s important to note that our ego’s job is to keep us safe, and they will go to any means to do that. That’s why they get louder and louder and fuel fear into our bodies when we attempt to do things that are out of the norm or potentially dangerous. Your ego wants to be heard, hence the sometimes overwhelming intrusion into our minds. Dr. Aziz says it can be like a child having a tantrum. So when it cries out, pacify it, knowing that you both ultimately want what is best for you. Say something like, ‘Those are my friends, and they care about me. I don’t know how they felt about what I said but they smiled and hugged me before I left, so it couldn’t have been that bad.’
Can you see how halting and questioning your ego in this fashion can take out so much sting? It can prevent your ego from tearing strips our of your self esteem and bringing your whole day down.
The Sedona method* by Hale Dworskin (a teacher from ‘The Secret’) is another great tool to question the ego. Through a simple releasing process he invites you to sit with your ego-provoked feeling of discomfort and ask: ‘Could I let this feeling go? Could I allow this feeling to be here? Could I welcome this feeling? Then ask, ‘Am I willing to let it go?’ and finally ‘When?’ I have found the Sedona Method to be extremely powerful in unstitching painful emotions.
Byron Katie’s book ‘Loving What Is’* also gets you to really examine the oftentimes falsehoods of the critic/ ego before absorbing them into your consciousness. “You’re either attaching to your thoughts or inquiring. There’s no other choice.” (‘Loving What Is,’ page 10) Byron invites you to do the latter, ‘Is it true? Do I absolutely know it’s true? How do you react when you think that thought? Who would you be without that thought?’ (page 19). Byron Katie then even asks you to turnaround the thought, as she says “the turnarounds are your prescriptions for health, peace, and happiness. Can you give yourself the medicine that you have been prescribing for others?” (page 21)
5) Another highly effective method in raising our levels of self love is to know how to detach from the ego. One way we can do this is by giving our ego/critic a name. Dr. Aziz calls his ‘Admiral Doom:-) Mine is Amelia. It’s a powerful act because by naming it you then consciously see it as ‘other’ and not who you are.
Perhaps though the times when it feels the hardest to detach from our critics/ego is after an incident where we feel like we’ve let ourselves down. Maybe we said something-in all innocence-that offended someone. Our ego is in full flair, scolding us with, ‘Why did you say that?’ ‘They’re never going to like you now!’ We feel our hearts sink as our powerful egoic thoughts pull down our emotions and leaves us feeling like we want to hide in a box. Personally when this happens, I often feel too winded to try and question my ego, at least, not immediately after. So I love on myself instead; I call myself Love or Darling and, like a sad child, I try and console me. Then I treat myself kindly and try and remove myself from any harsh environments so I can just lick my wounds for a wee while. In short I extend the same compassion to myself as I would my own hurt child.
Another useful tactic to handle my ego after I’ve disappointed myself is to say; ‘Alright Amelia, you’ve got 5 minutes to vent’. So I literally just allow my ego to have it’s tantrum (as Dr. Aziz would say) and get it all out. Then after that 5 minutes is up, I can start the consolation or inquiry process. Or I can simply remind myself of all my strengths as a person. Sometimes, though, it feels better to just saturate my mind in something else, perhaps a book or warm hug of a TV show.
Phew! We’ve covered a lot! I so hope this information provides you with a valuable key to loving yourself. Next week we’re still on the mind but we’ll be discussing how to nourish it with self love through positive thoughts, hypnosis, gratitude, affirmations, visualizations and more.
If ever there was a week to use the resource section, this week would be it…
Have a beautiful weekend! And do let me know your thoughts, you know how I love to hear from you.
* Eckhart Tolle ‘A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose’ http://www.amazon.com/New-Earth-Awakening-Lifes-Purpose/dp/B000CC3MGA
*Webinar with Oprah Winfrey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz0e9LrOsyk
* Mindful Meditation http://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-practice/mindfulness-the-basics
* Dr Aziz Gazipura website http://socialconfidencecenter.com/ and his book ‘The Solution to Social Anxiety’ http://www.amazon.com/Solution-Social-Anxiety-Break-Shyness/dp/0988979802/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425037636&sr=1-1&keywords=dr+aziz+gazipura+psyd
*The Sedona Method, Hale Dwoskin http://www.sedona.com/How-It-Works.asp?aff=SHWFM2
* Byron Katie http://thework.com/ and her book, ‘Loving What Is’ http://www.amazon.com/Loving-What-Four-Questions-Change/dp/1400045371/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425037924&sr=1-1&keywords=loving+what+is+byron+katie