Archive For March 30, 2014

Get What You Deserve

Along with self-care, the idea of “what we deserve” can be riddled with entitlement. However, what it basically means is that we are willing to take in the same amount that we put out -that we are willing to create balance and health in our lives.

Let’s take a moment to tune in and pay attention to what is going on inside of us.

What are you rationalizing, making excuses for, and in general tolerating in your life because you really want something and are willing to get a fraction of it because somewhere deep inside you believe that might be the best you are going to get?

Or, maybe, it does not even get that conscious. Maybe you just settle before even becoming aware of it.

So, let’s wake up. Life is truly to short to be anything less than our full and fabulous selves. It is not a matter of entitlement. It is a matter of stewardship. Ultimately, what serves this life that you are living –what affirms it.

Move in that direction every chance you get. It is a recipe for fulfillment and success.

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Everyone Loves A Victim?

There are some things that maintaining our victimhood gives us. People are less likely to challenge us or try to over power us. Often they are willing to give us our way if we have had a hard enough time. We have a tendency to think that we are less responsible for our actions and emotions. And, with all the privilege that we have victims actually have a bit of social capital.

The hardest thing about playing the victim is that the last thing that we want to do is admit that it is what we are doing –how embarrassing! However, spotting it and transforming it could be one of the most amazing transformations of our life.

Let’s be clear here. There are some points in our lives where we may have been victimized and there are people who experience this again and again in their lives. This has serious repercussions and I am most certainly not saying get over it to this.

However, some of us might benefit from moving on and becoming more empowered –using our power directly rather than passive aggressively with others.

How do you know if this is you? Here are some clues that you might be being a victim:

  1. Do you blame others or circumstances for what you do or don’t do?
  2. Do you feel righteous in your actions and words regardless of what they are in a disagreement?
  3. Do you break promises and agreements because they are not comfortable for you to keep or because of “circumstances”?
  4. Do you explain away your behavior and provided no one hold you to it you let them do the changing?

If you do chances are you are justifying things as being out of your control or somebody else’s fault –and that is the territory of the victim.

Here is what you can do instead:

  1. When something goes wrong look at your contribution.
  2. When you have a fight or disagreement look at your contribution.
  3. Honor your commitments. In the words of Larry Winget “Do you do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it!”
  4. Try to see your missteps and make it a point to set things right.
  5. Pay more attention to your own action and accountability than to others.

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From Victimization to Personal Power

Have you ever felt victimized in your life or met someone who is constantly be running the “poor me” story and feels completely powerless to change their reality? Chances are you have. We all have at one point in our lives felt like victims, but why is it that some people identify with the personality of victimization while others choose to get up, reclaim their personal power and take full responsibility for the outcomes they have manifested in their lives? And why is it that people who are compassionate tend to attract victims to their lives? Or why do victims sometimes end up as perpetrators and lash out at those who are trying to help them?

Victimization is an epidemic in our society and in this article we will uncover the minute details of the Professional Victim Archetypes and its multiple manifestations and relationship dynamics. Remember that these are archetypes, personas and manifestations of the shadow self. Do not confuse the description of the archetypes with your essence or the essence of another person, for no one is truly a victim, but rather some of us simply have chosen to unconsciously identify with these archetypes.

Professional Victim Persona:

Victim of the world. Blames everyone and everything, including their own incompetence, irresponsibility and even predatory behaviors. Victims expect special treatment or exemption from life because he/she is so fragile and decimated by tyrants. They will often attack even those who are trying to help them and may often collapse into dysfunction “you can’t expect anything from me.”

Addictions: powerlessness, worry and cynicism

Goal: regain safety

Fear: exploitation

Issue: Is “victimized” by the conditions required by solutions. In order for victims to heal their victimization they must take full responsibility for their life and its outcomes.

Virtue: once the victim persona is transcended the person becomes interdependent.

Victims point the finger of blame at everyone else except themselves. Blaming everyone (family, relationships, co-workers, friends, teachers, healers, coaches, etc.) and everything (government , media, weather, economy,etc.) for why they are unhappy and life is such a struggle. Victims do not take responsibility for their own happiness, they believe that the responsibility for their happiness is owed to them by other people. Victims find compassionate people and then blame them because they are not happy. People who are identified with the victim persona are not fun to be around because even compassionate people will eventually turn into tyrants in order to get rid off the victim. At first when a compassionate person engages with a victim they think “I must help him/her” and they do anything possible to help this person. Then the victim keeps blaming the compassionate person because they are not happy or not feeling well and then one day the compassionate person who is playing the Rescuer Archetype explode and turns into the tyrant.

Victim-Persecutor-Rescuer Complex:

If you play the rescuer and the person you are rescuing does not need it, they will lash out and victimize you. When they become the persecutor and victimize you, later they are likely to feel guilty and try to save you as well, making them the rescuer. If a person plays one of these roles then they will most likely end up playing all three. These roles tend to cycle and repeat over and over again – a classic “karmic loop.”

Victims are very addicted to the emotions of hatred and pity. They project their own self hatred to others and constantly tell their “poor me” story so that other people feel pity towards them. Victims are energy vampires and they extract energy from other people who have pity for them. Another way victims get their energy is by putting a guilt trip on everyone by blaming them. This is exactly why compassionate people tend to attract victims.

Compassionate People Persona:

If a compassionate person has unresolved guilt from past lives, the guilt makes us blind to victims.Our willingness to help other people because we are trying to get rid of our own guilt makes us easy prey for victims. Compassionate people are often emotionally addicted to the need to be needed. There is a big difference from TRUE COMPASSION and emotional neediness.. Sometimes true compassion requires us to tell victims that we will not accept their guilt anymore and ask them to leave.This is compassion because it encourages the victim to become independent and sovereign.

Victims will often say “I have tried everything” as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility and will blame the methods, techniques and healers for their own unhappiness. Many people in the coaching and healing industry are compassionate people with good intentions that unfortunately attract a lot of victims who only want to do is suck their energy and are not really committed to become their own rescuers, take responsibility and do the work that needs to be done. Although victims have tried many different approaches, many victims will keep telling themselves and other people same story of how “my life was devastated”, “I’m so unlucky”, “life has been so cruel”, “some of us are not meant to be happy” or “no matter what I do nothing works”. Their reality will never change as long as they keep running and identifying with the same story. As long as they expect other people to “make” them happy and do all the work for them NOTHING will change, they might get a relief but soon enough they will go back to their own ways. We all have seen people who have gone through incredible hardships of abuse, poverty and other misfortunes only to become people who inspire others with their stories of success, happiness and triumph. All of them have one thing in common, they didn’t let their circumstances define who they were and they became extremely hungry and believed they could defy all odds. They simply changed their story, gave it a new meaning and took massive action to achieve what they envisioned.

If you have identified with the Victim Persona it is time to clear this energetically from your field and reclaim your personal power. Only then will you be able to take full responsibility for your own happiness, take charge of your life and become ALIVE again. If you are a compassionate person or you are playing the Rescuer Archetype is time to energetically clear your unconscious guilt, the need to be needed and begin to focus on helping those who actually are willing to receive your help and will benefit from it. If you were once a victim and someone told you to leave, be grateful for the opportunity to become independent and sovereign.

Commit to eradicate all thoughts, behaviors, words and rituals that resonate with victimization, blame and guilt. Take full responsibility, embody your personal power and become the master of your own destiny.

reblogged from ascendedrelationships.com

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5 Ways to Liberate Your Creative Self

#1 Be Spontaneous:
The idea of spontaneity often gets the same reactions as creativity – people immediately reject it by saying things like “oh, im not spontaneous. Im not the kind of person to just hop on a plane somewhere.”.

Well, what would your life be like if for one day you did exactly what you pleased, took off your filters, said what you thought? Spend a few minutes daydreaming about this and write down what you come up with. What does this say about your inner desires and the life you are living?

If you are really feeling bold, try actually living one day this way.

#2 Take yourself out of your element:
I was recently at a party where everyone, literally everyone there was a parent of a young child. Well, everyone except me. It made me really look at the way that I am used to being social because everything was turned on its head by the children running through (literally) every conversation I was having. I got to see myself in a new light and find new ways to interact.

Put yourself in a social experiment by taking a class or going to a party that is outside your normal social group or striking up conversation with someone you would not usually speak with.

Bonus points if the group or person you choose speaks a different language.

#3 Be Ridiculous:
If you tend toward taking things too seriously, make sure you are doing at least one silly, playful thing a day. Play and creativity are certainly linked and silliness helps to leave “right way/wrong way” thinking behind. Dance like your favorite animal, make up a rhyming song about your day or wear a stupid hat.

Bonus points if you do this in front of someone you are worried will judge you for it.

#4 Make A Mess:
When is the last time you got good and dirty? Try fingerpaints or pastels with your whole hand (arms, feet!) , dig up some dirt and rub it all over yourself, jump in a puddle without your rain boots. That does it feel like?

Bonus points for running errands around town while in this disheveled state.

#5 Enter The Void:
Write down a list of as many things as possible that you believe to be true about yourself. Write down what you look like, things you like and don’t like, what you have done in your life, etc. Read your completed list. Now imagine that NONE of what you wrote is true. Who would you be then? Can you spend entire minute reflecting on yourself this way? A whole day?

Magical powers activated according to the duration that you can suspend these beliefs.

K Lenore Siner’s vision for the world is one where beauty, artistry and pleasure are valued as priorities in all that we do and where all people live deeply meaningful lives through connecting to each other, spirit and their innermost dreams and desires.

K is a multi-media painter who exhibited and published work internationally. She lives in AS220, an arts community in downtown, Providence RI and works as an Associate Coach and business manager for Dr. Kate Inc.

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10 Signs You’re Burning Out — And What To Do About It

I’m of the mindset that while I may not be the smartest or most talented person in the room, I’ll earn my spot at the table with my impressive work ethic. So, I got in early to my office job, stayed late, worked weekends—all the while obsessively worrying about my performance and my future.

Looking back, it’s obvious that my lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. But back then, I wore my workaholism like a badge of honor. The way I saw it, I had an awesome job and would work as hard as it took to do well.

As time went by, any semblance of a balanced life went out the window. I had no energy or desire to hang out with my friends, I was neglecting my health and I had become disillusioned with my work. There wasn’t one single catalyst—it wasn’t that I stopped liking the kind of work I did, generally speaking. Instead, it was a classic case of burnout: multiple, chronic stressors over an extended period of time left me totally drained and no longer performing at my best. In a few short years, I went from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to seriously burnt out. Here are signs you could be headed down the same path.

What Exactly Is Burnout?
As it turns out, my story isn’t uncommon; many millennial women are experiencing job burnout before they even turn 30. The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.”

“A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress,” says Dr. Ballard, who is the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”

Left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for.

Dr. Ballard let us in on 10 signs you may be experiencing burnout:

1. Exhaustion
A clear sign of burnout is when you feel tired all the time. Exhaustion can be emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.

2. Lack of Motivation
When you don’t feel enthusiastic about anything anymore or you no longer have that internal motivation for your work, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout. Other ways this manifests? It may be harder to get going in the morning and more difficult to drag yourself into work every day.

3. Frustration, Cynicism and Other Negative Emotions
You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may be disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you feel more generally pessimistic than you used to. While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.

4. Cognitive Problems
Burnout and chronic stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate. When we’re stressed, our attention narrows to focus on the negative element that we perceive as a threat. In the short term, this helps us deal with the problem at hand, Dr. Ballard says, “but our bodies and brains are designed to handle this in short bursts and then return to normal functioning. When stress becomes chronic, this narrow focus continues for a long time and we have difficulty paying attention to other things.” This “fight or flight” tunnel vision can negatively affect your ability to solve problems or make decisions. You might find that you’re more forgetful and have a harder time remembering things.



5. Slipping Job Performance
Not sure whether you’re burnt out? Compare your job performance now to your performance in previous years. Because burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time, taking this long-term view might reveal whether you’re in a temporary slump or experiencing more chronic burnout.

6. Interpersonal Problems at Home and at Work
This tends to play out in one of two ways: (a) You’re having more conflicts with other people, such as getting into arguments, or (b) you withdraw, talking to your coworkers and family members less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.

7. Not Taking Care of Yourself
When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, smoking, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep. Self-medication is another issue and could include relying on sleeping pills to sleep, drinking more alcohol at the end of the day to de-stress or even drinking more coffee to summon up the energy to drag yourself into work in the morning.

8. Being Preoccupied With Work … When You’re Not at Work
Even though you might not be working at a given moment, if you’re expending mental energy mulling over your job, then your work is interfering with your ability to recover from the stresses of your day. In order to recover, you need time to yourself after the actual task stops … and time when you stop thinking about that task altogether.

9. Generally Decreased Satisfaction
This is the tendency to feel less happy and satisfied with your career and with your home life. You might feel dissatisfied or even stuck when it comes to whatever is going on at home, in the community or with your social activities, Dr. Ballard says.

10. Health Problems
Over a long period of time, serious chronic stress can create real health problems like digestive issues, heart disease, depression and obesity.

And If You Are Experiencing Burnout?
Dr. Ballard let us in on what to do if you recognize the above symptoms in yourself.

Take Relaxation Seriously
Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.

Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life
Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community (along with other items we mention here, like relaxation, being able to “turn off” and participating in rewarding non-work activities).

Unplug
While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.

Get Enough Sleep
Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands. The reverse is true, too: We’ve seen that sleep can actually improve your memory. Recovering from chronic stress and burnout requires removing or reducing the demands on you and replenishing your resources. Sleep is one strategy for replenishing those resources. For inspiration, check out our tips to get better sleep.

Get Organized
Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.

Stay Attuned
It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help. Talk to a psychologist to get help beyond support from just your friends and family members.

Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them
Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors, Dr. Ballard says, and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well.

Some burnout really is the fault of work. “In a survey we did in 2011, more than two-thirds of respondents said that their employers had taken steps to cut costs as a result of the recession,” like hiring freezes, layoffs, cutting work hours, rolling back benefits, requiring unpaid days off, increasing hours, etc. All that increases demands on workers,” he says. “Those are the two components that play into burnout: There are more demands and fewer resources.” To find out whether it’s time to move on, figure out whether your position is a “mismatch between your needs and what you’re getting working for that particular organization.”

reblogged from www.forbes.com

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The Core of Self-Care is Self-Love

The Core of Self-Care is Self-Love

Self-care is a privilege.

It is something privileged people get to think about and attend to. And, yes at this point in my life I am privileged to think about it myself.

I am grateful for that. But there is something more to it as well. At the heart of self-care is self-love and that is available to everyone.

And, the more we can bring that self-love into our lives the more that we can become who we want to become and create what we want to create. Even more importantly the more we can truly enjoy our lives –the good and the bad.

Self-Love is a birth right.

Does not matter where you come from, how much money you have, or how many resources you are connected to you always have access to the foundational self-care tool – self-love. Having, holding, and experiencing love in our selves for ourselves is the highest personal development achievement and the most basic stepping stone.

So, how do we get more of it?

Pick any area of your life where you feel angry, sad or any negative emotion. What is the circumstance that produces these thoughts and feelings? How is it that you have come to believe that you are wrong, bad, or unlovable?

Bring some understanding to this place where no love exists. How might a person find themselves in this situation? What might they struggle with?

Then bring some compassion to the situation. How challenging might it be to have these difficult emotions? Allow an image of yourself to come forward that represents this struggling part of yourself.

Now, bring some love to these confused and painful parts. Think of a time when you felt love. Spend a moment really bringing in the feeling. Now focus it on that image that you have conjured of yourself suffering.. Let the love infuse the image and feel the shift taking place inside of yourself.

Want more ways to cultivate self-love so you can care deeply for yourself? I am hosting a FREE video summit, Unstoppable: Self Care for Fearless Living – an incredible resource of daily interviews that will having your feeling inspired and connected. Starts Monday, the 17th – sign up now!

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What Is Self-Care, REALLY?

Organization, healthy habits, down time and time to be your bad-ass self, all of it is self care.

But, really truly deeply self care is about self-love. Do we even know what that means? I personally think that it is a process, an unfolding. As we look at the parts that we are unable to love or that we outright mistreat and find our way back to a space where we can love them we naturally start to do more of the things that take care of us.

Three tips for self care:

Find where you are unconscious: Unfortunately, most of our life is spent walking around asleep. We go through the motions but don’t really connect in with ourselves or what is happening in the present moment. We are stuck in the past or the future.

Find the places in your life where you are on autopilot and your whole life will change for the better.

Take quiet time every day: Does it all seem like a blur? Well it will be if you do not find the time to stop, drop, and listen. Even 5 minutes a day of quite time will go a long way.

Ask yourself “Am I loving myself right now?”: Self-love like so many other things that are good for us are a practice. The more we practice the more we develop the skill.

Link the question “Am I loving myself?” to things like brushing your teeth and eating breakfast so that you can become more aware of whether you are loving yourself or not.

Is cultivating self-care important to you? March 17th – 21st I am hosting a FREE video summit, Unstoppable: Self Care for Fearless Living. Watch inspirational video interviews that will help you dive into the heart of caring for all of who you are. Sign up here

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Self Care vs Self Comfort

Bubble baths, pedicures, massages, a sweet treat — all self-loving activities you think of when you think of self care, no?

After all, aren’t those sweet rituals proof of care?

Of loving yourself?

They are.

But when “self-care” turns into nights spent curled on the couch with cupcakes watching entire seasons of old shows, you may be walking a fine line.

 When the delicious solo glass of wine on the porch turns into the bottle and late night ex-texting, you’ve thrown your care under the bus.  When rewarding yourself with a shopping trip becomes the only way to lift your spirits, your pampering is becoming dangerous. When caring for yourself turns into distracting or numbing or avoiding, it’s time to pause.  It’s time to check in with yourself — what are you really craving in those moments?

Ask yourself, ”What do I really need? Do I need comfort or care?”

When you need comfort — you’re craving warmth, pleasure, a break.

Treat yourself with sweetness and follow your body’s yearning for “feeling  good.” A hot bath?  A glass of wine? A bear hug from your partner?  A square of dark chocolate?  A quesadilla with homemade guacamole?  Sex? A TV show? An early bedtime?  A pedicure? A snuggle with your kiddo?

You are soothing yourself from a stressful day. You are comforting yourself after a hard conversation with your boss.  You are pampering yourself after a week of doing everything for everyone else. You are rewarding yourself for reaching a goal. The comforting acts themselves are neither bad nor good.  The intention behind them is the place where comfort separates from distraction, numbing or avoidance.

When you need care — you’re craving self-respect, connection, alignment. Treat yourself with kindness and honor your strengths and values.  Follow your heart’s yearning for “doing good.”

Write in your journal? Swim laps? Have a soulful chat with your best friend?  Create something? Declare your gratitude? Take yourself on a walk outside?  Go to yoga?  Cook a beautiful meal?  Gaze at the stars? Say no? Say yes?  Have the conversation you’ve been avoiding? Meditate? Get lost in your favorite hobby?  Dance?  Take the first step of your crazy goal? Write a thank you note? Call your mama? Get organized?

You are honoring your highest held values.   You are making choices that may not be convenient or easy, but are in line with your true self. You are respecting your right to be happy, to be fulfilled, to be present.

There is a moment of choice where you can make a deliberate decision: CARE OR COMFORT?

Both are necessary! Give yourself what you actually need.  Practice tuning into your cravings. Sometimes we get so used to comforting ourselves, we skip right to the sugar when what we really need is to take a walk.  The TV can become so habitual that we don’t even realize that writing a blog post is what actually feels better at 9 pm.  We’re so practiced at rewarding ourselves with a massage, that we don’t even consider that a painting class might feel like more of a treat. And gorgeous?  If you’ve been sliding into the land of distraction, numbness, excessive soothing at the expense of your values — there’s no point in beating yourself up.  Practice some self compassion and let today be the “reset” button.  If the comfort has been gaining crazy momentum, make a different choice now.  Today.  Tonight.

reblogged from Molly Mahan’s beatuiful website www.stratejoy.com

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Learning and Unlearning: A Journey of Self-Acceptance

A teacher of mine once said, “Don’t show up as the person you think you are. Show up as the person you want to be.”>/p>

A powerful statement, but I didn’t know who I wanted to be. Even if I did, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off.

I knew who I didn’t want to be: self-critical, self-conscious, and always focusing on my shortcomings. I wanted to learn how to get out of my own way.

For a long time, I thought improving my external situation by becoming richer, thinner, and smarter meant that I was learning. Not to say that accomplishing those things isn’t learning. However, in that cycle I wasn’t learning, but repeating the same story.

I kept trying to get from A to Z by pushing myself and always expected my results to meet my expectations. And the vicious cycle continued. I thought I’m not good enough; I’m pathetic and I’ll never get it right.

Ironically, my desire to learn continued to work against me.

It only brought me further from what I wanted. I now realize how necessary it was for me to relinquish control and create space for something other than my neurosis.

Today, I’m learning about integral awareness—taking in information on all levels, mind, body, and spirit. Not resisting, not expecting, not judging, but allowing; removing previous ideas about who I am. I have come to realize that true learning is unlearning.

Another word I associate with learning is deprogramming.

In other words, one must begin by emptying one’s cup.

Bruce Lee once said, “Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” By emptying my cup, I am making room for new experiences in my life instead of allowing myself to repeat toxic patterns.

In the process of unlearning and letting go, I have experienced some dramatic changes in several areas:

1. My relationships have become healthier.
In the past, I measured the success of my relationships by how well I could control their outcomes. I was often distraught because I continued to attract uncooperative, uncaring, unsupportive situations.

These days, if I attract someone who doesn’t want to operate from an open, supportive, compassionate place then I am okay with letting it fall away. I am learning to walk away, loosen my grip, and look within to understand my experience of what took place.

I recognize that I cannot look to others to heal what is broken in me. I acknowledge that I have the power to heal myself—to shift my awareness.

I push myself to stop complaining and get to work. My new mantra: the victim reacts; the warrior responds. The ego judges; the spirit absolves.

2. My relationship to my body is also experiencing a shift.
By delving deeper into meditation and other mind-body therapies, I’ve developed a healthier relationship with body. Previously, I was caught up in my appearance but not so concerned with the negative emotions and toxic substances I was stuffing myself with.

I kept telling myself, “If I look good now, I can just deal with the other stuff later.” Operating this way, I wasn’t in touch with my body. I had to unlearn a completely unhealthy approach, dominated by a feeling of separateness from everyone and everything around me.

3. I notice beauty in things I used to take for granted.
A recent experience that stood out was during a mural walk in San Francisco. I’ll never forget standing there in awe of the Mission District. I drank in the colors, symbolism, beauty, vastness, and sacredness of the images.

Connecting to what was actually going on around me, I had a deeper experience of sounds, smells, feelings, and even sensations in my body. I silenced my mind and was rewarded with the ecstatic merging of my inner self and the outer world.

Feet on Ground. Smile on face. Gratitude. Bliss. Peace. Sounds. Sensations. Light and Energy. No purchase necessary. I was truly alive, breathing, in the moment, a drug-free heightened state of awareness. Something a lot easier to achieve than I realized.

4. Writing is no longer a huge source of anxiety.
If “it’s the silence between the notes that makes the music” then it’s pretty much the same with writing. Until recently, I had a difficult relationship with writing. I had so much to say, but lacked the self-worth to actually sit down and get it on paper.

I’m no longer attached to the end result and I actually enjoy the process. Having “unlearned” my original anxiety-driven approach has provided me with a sense of freedom and movement in my writing.

I am learning how to bring together disparate elements and expertly fuse them into a polished stone. The fear and anxiety isn’t as strong. I’m opening up to exploration and possibilities; thus, leaving my former toxic relationship with words by the wayside.

5. I am finally greeting myself at my own door.
No longer so concerned with the person I want to be, my true self is being revealed through the unlearning and removal of what no longer serves me. I am emptying my cup of fear, doubt, and frustration, and am finally looking forward to raising a toast to life.

About Melodi Cowan
Melodi Cowan is the founder of Dharma Pals, an outreach program that provides seniors with healing and support through meditation. Read more of her writing on her blog, Thoughts Become Things.

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The Path to Unconditional Self-Acceptance

Self-Esteem vs. Self-Acceptance

Though related, self-acceptance is not the same as self-esteem. Whereas self-esteem refers specifically to how valuable, or worthwhile, we see ourselves, self-acceptance alludes to a far more global affirmation of self. When we’re self-accepting, we’re able to embrace all facets of ourselves–not just the positive, more “esteem-able” parts. As such, self-acceptance is unconditional, free of any qualification. We can recognize our weaknesses, limitations, and foibles, but this awareness in no way interferes with our ability to fully accept ourselves.

I regularly tell my therapy clients that if they genuinely want to improve their self-esteem, they need to explore what parts of themselves they’re not yet able to accept. For, ultimately, liking ourselves more (or getting on better terms with ourselves) has mostly to do with self-acceptance. And it’s only when we stop judging ourselves that we can secure a more positive sense of who we are. Which is why I believe self-esteem rises naturally as soon as we cease being so hard on ourselves. And it’s precisely because self-acceptance involves far more than self-esteem that I see it as crucial to our happiness and state of well-being.

What Determines Our Self-Acceptance (or Lack of Shame) in the First Place?

In general, similar to self-esteem, as children we’re able to accept ourselves only to the degree we feel accepted by our parents. Research has demonstrated that before the age of eight, we lack the ability to formulate a clear, separate sense of self–that is, other than that which has been transmitted to us by our caretakers. So if our parents were unable, or unwilling, to communicate the message that we were totally okay and acceptable–independent, that is, of our hard-to-control, sometimes errant behaviors–we were primed to view ourselves ambivalently. The positive regard we received from our parents may have depended almost totally on how we acted, and unfortunately we learned that many of our behaviors weren’t acceptable to them. So, identifying ourselves with these objectionable behaviors, we inevitably came to see ourselves as in many ways inadequate.

Additionally, adverse parental evaluation can, and frequently does, go far beyond disapproving specific behaviors. For example, parents may transmit to us the overall message that we’re selfish–or not attractive enough, smart enough, good or “nice” enough . . . and so on. As a result of what most mental health professionals would agree reflects a subtle form of emotional abuse, almost all of us come to regard ourselves as only conditionally acceptable. In consequence, we learn to regard many aspects of our self negatively, painfully internalizing feelings of rejection we too often experienced at the hands of overly critical parents. And this tendency toward self-criticism is at the heart of most of the problems that, as adults, we unwittingly create for ourselves.

In other words, given how the human psyche operates, it’s almost impossible not to parent ourselves similarly to how we were parented originally. If our caretakers dealt with us in a hurtful manner, as adults we’ll find all kinds of ways to perpetuate that unresolved pain onto ourselves. If we were frequently ignored, berated, blamed, chastised, or physically punished, we’ll somehow contrive to continue this self-indignity. So when (figuratively, at least) we “beat ourselves up,” we’re typically just following our parents’ lead. Having to depend so much on them when we were young–and thus experiencing little authority to actually question their mixed verdict on us–we felt pretty much obliged to accept their negative appraisals as valid. This is hardly to say that they constantly put us down. But, historically, it’s well-known that parents are far more likely to let us know when we do something that bothers them than to acknowledge us for our more positive, pro-social behaviors.

In fully comprehending our current reservations about ourselves, we also need to add the disapproval and criticism we may have been received from siblings, other relatives, teachers–and, especially, our peers, who (struggling with their own self-doubts) could hardly resist making fun of our frailties whenever we innocently “exposed” them. At any rate, it’s safe to assume that almost all of us enter adulthood afflicted with a certain negative bias. We share a common tendency to blame ourselves, or to see ourselves as in some way defective. It’s as though we all, to whatever degree, suffer from the same chronic “virus” of self-doubt.

. . . So How Do We Become More Self-Accepting?

Accepting ourselves unconditionally (despite our deficiencies) would have been almost automatic had our parents conveyed a predominantly positive message about us–and, additionally, we grew up in a generally supportive environment. But if that really wasn’t the case, we need on our own to learn how to “certify” ourselves, to validate our essential ok-ness. And I’m hardly suggesting that independently confirming ourselves has anything to do with becoming complacent–only that we get over our habit of constantly judging ourselves. If deep within us we’re ever to experience, as our normal state of being, personal fulfillment and peace of mind, we must first rise to the challenge of complete, unqualified self-acceptance.

As Robert Holden puts it in his book Happiness Now!”Happiness and self-acceptance go hand in hand. In fact, your level of self-acceptance determines your level of happiness. The more self-acceptance you have, the more happiness you’ll allow yourself to accept, receive and enjoy. In other words, you enjoy as much happiness as you believe you’re worthy of.”

Perhaps more than anything else, cultivating self-acceptance requires that we develop more self-compassion. Only when we can better understand and pardon ourselves for things that earlier we assumed must be all our fault can we secure the relationship to self that till now has eluded us.

To adopt a more loving stance toward ourselves–the key prerequisite for self-acceptance–we must come to realize that till now we’ve pretty much felt obliged to demonstrate our worth to others, just as initially we concluded that we had to submit to the judgmental authority of our caretakers. Our approval-seeking behaviors since then (misguided or not) have simply reflected the legacy of our parents’ conditional love.

Undertaking such a heartfelt exploration of what I’d call our well-nigh “universal plight” almost inevitably generates increased self-compassion. And it’s through this compassion that we can learn to like ourselves more, and to view ourselves as deserving of love and respect by very “virtue” of our willingness to confront (and struggle against) what previously we’ve found so difficult to accept about ourselves.

In a sense, we all bear “conditional-love scars” from the past. We’re all among the ranks of the “walking wounded.” And this recognition of our common humanity can help inspire in us not only feelings of habitually-withheld kindness and goodwill toward ourselves but toward others as well.

To become more self-accepting, we must start by telling ourselves (repeatedly and– hopefully–with ever-increasing conviction) that given all of our negatively biased self-referencing beliefs, we’ve done the best we possibly could. In this light, we need to re-examine residual feelings of guilt, as well as our many self-criticisms and put-downs. We must ask ourselves specifically what it is we don’t accept about ourselves and, as agents of our own healing, bring compassion and understanding to each aspect of self-rejection or -denial. By doing so, we can begin to dissolve exaggerated feelings of guilt and shame based on standards that simply didn’t mirror what could realistically be expected of us at the time.

The famous French expression, “Tout comprendre, c’est tout excuser” (literally, “to understand all is to pardon all”) is a dictum that we ought to apply at least as much to ourselves as to others. For the more we can grasp just why in the past we were compelled to act in a particular way, the more likely we’ll be able both to excuse ourselves for this behavior and avoid repeating it in the future.

Becoming more self-accepting necessitates that we begin to appreciate that, ultimately, we’re not really to blame for anything–whether it’s our looks, intelligence, or any of our more questionable behaviors. Our actions have all been compelled by some combination of background and biology. Going forward, we certainly can–and in most cases, should–take responsibility for ways we’ve hurt or mistreated others. But if we’re to productively work on becoming more self-accepting, we must do so with compassion and forgiveness in our hearts. We need to realize that, given our internal programming up to that point, we could hardly have behaved differently.

To take ourselves off the hook and gradually evolve to a state of unconditional self-acceptance, it’s crucial that we adopt an attitude of “self-pardon” for our transgressions (whether actual or perceived). In the end, we may even come to realize that there’s nothing to forgive. For regardless of what we may have concluded earlier, we were, in a sense, always innocent–doing the best we could, given (1) what was innate (or hard-wired) in us, (2) how compelling our needs (and feelings) were at the time, and (3) what, back then, we believed about ourselves.

That which, finally, determines most problematic behavior is linked to common psychological defenses. And it almost borders on the cruel for us to blame ourselves–or hold ourselves in contempt–for acting in ways that at the time we thought we had to in order to protect ourselves from anxiety, shame, or emotional distress generally.

reblogged from http://www.psychologytoday.com

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