SELF WORTH

I was recently skimming old journals of mine when I found an entry that made me do a double-take.

… because I doubted my worth, I never sought a partner who, on paper, might appear my equal. I sought men who I ‘felt’ for; whom I could ‘help’ with my compassionate heart…”

In other words, people I was (thought I was) superior to.

You can hate me for saying it– out loud, but I’m doing it anyway – because I think a lot of people out there do the same. We are drawn to safety (“inferior“); We are confident in our role (“fixer”); We like feeling “in control”.

I was in therapy at the time. I was in my mid-20s – a naive believer that “love could conquer all!”

My therapist said, “but at what cost?”

I remember being stunned. Because HE WAS RIGHT! How much of my true self had I sacrificed for the sake of this unchallenged belief??

I had to challenge my own “instincts” – after all, they were based on “safety”, not reality.

In reality, I had a master’s degree (no financial help from family). I had overcome many major challenges: I refused to be a victim of my childhood – from learning disabilities, abuse from my stepfather; to an unloving, absent mother.

I was, in actuality… AWESOME!

I learned to view my anxiety as a burden instead of ‘good instincts’. I learned to re-interpret it as a faulty warning system, and to dive in, instead of running.

30 years later, I thank my therapist for challenging me with such perfect timing.

It’s an art.

Get a good therapist.

It makes a difference.

 

Using Compassion to Cope with Anxiety

Worth Reading From Off the Web!

 

Using Compassion to Cope with AnxietyIf you struggle with anxiety, you probably have a mean streak. That is, you’re probably very mean to yourself. You probably have no problem being harsh and overly critical of your thoughts and behaviors — particularly when you’re having a tough time with anxiety.

You might blame yourself and see yourself as less-than because anxiety follows you everywhere, from home to work to the grocery store.

You also might think in shoulds: I should have more control over my anxiety. I should be a better public speaker by now. I shouldnever be scared of something so silly. I should be ashamed. I should be different.

 And you might think that being harsh toward yourself will curb your anxiety and whip you into calmer and cooler shape. Or maybe you think that being self-critical is simply being realistic. That you’re realistically evaluating your shortcomings or weaknesses. Or maybe being self-critical has simply become your default, your automatic response to anxiety (or anything else in your life).

But guess what? This kind of thinking often backfires and actually can boost your anxiety.

At least according to Dennis D. Tirch, Ph.D, psychologist and author of The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Overcoming Anxiety: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Calm Worry, Panic and Fear

You can’t insult your way to less anxiety (or any positive change). And you know what? You deserve better. Millions of people struggle with anxiety — and there’s no shame in that.

Self-Criticism vs. Compassionate Self-Correction

In his book, Tirch distinguishes between self-criticism and compassionate self-correction. He says that “Compassionate self-correction is grounded in the desire to alleviate suffering and to help us realize our hearts’ deepest desire to be able to behave as we’d wish to.”

He explains that it’s not about denying mistakes or weaknesses. Instead it’s about radically accepting yourself: “accepting your fallibility, your frailty and your suffering, all of which are essential aspects of your common humanity.”

Tirch cites Paul Gilbert’s analogy involving two teachers with different styles: the critical teacher and the encouraging, supportive teacher. The critical teacher focuses on their students’ faults and scolds or teases them. As a result, the students become afraid and resentful, while the teacher becomes angry and anxious. The encouraging and supportive teacher, however, focuses on their student’s strengths, has clear expectations and gives constructive feedback.

Connecting to Your Compassionate Self

Tirch features several valuable activities to help readers tap into their compassionate self. One activity involves using two chairs to mimic your anxious mind and your compassionate mind. It helps you learn how to purposely activate your compassionate mind – and, over time, being empathetic will become automatic.

Take two chairs, and have them face each other. First, sit in one chair and imagine looking at yourself in the other chair. Connect to your self-anxious thoughts, and say them out loud. Talk about your worries, your criticisms, your shame.

Then, when you’re ready, sit in the other chair, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Visualize your compassionate self, and let yourself smile. Connect to your forgiving, kind and warm thoughts. You can also place your hand over your heart and think of being compassionate.

Next, open your eyes and acknowledge that you’re with your anxious self. You might say that you understand your feelings, and acknowledge the difficulty of anxiety; and that it’s OK to feel this way. Then close your eyes, again, and after a natural exhale, let go of the exercise, and give yourself credit for practicing this activity.

In the second exercise Tirch suggests readers compose a compassionate letter to themselves. Before beginning, take a few deep breaths. Then focus on your thoughts. “What conflicts, problems or self-criticisms come to mind? What’s your mind beginning to tell you? What emotions arise within you?”

Then take a few more deep breaths, and focus on being compassionate, nonjudgmental and accepting of yourself. Recognize that your feelings are valid and your struggles are a normal part of life. Find a time to read your letter – and feel free to revise it any time.

Bringing Compassion to the What-Ifs

In the same chapter, Tirch also talks about how readers can bring more compassion to worrisome thoughts (i.e., the usual litany of “what ifs”). It’s these what-ifs that, over time, our brains begin to interpret as cold, hard facts. Then our bodies act in kind, producing anxiety-riddled sensations.

As Tirch writes, “Of course, the anxious mind is very good at generating anxiety-provoking predictions of possible threats. All too often, our emotional brains then respond to these imaginary threats as if they were real, so our physical sensations, feelings, and behavior come to be dominated by our worries.”

He suggests readers explore their thoughts by asking questions such as: “What’s going through my mind when I’m anxious?” “How does my anxious self see the world, and what does it think about the current situation?” “What is my anxious self/mind telling me right now?” Write down your thoughts, and think about how your compassionate mind would respond to them. Think about how you’d talk to a friend who was in a similar situation.

Being kind to ourselves can be hard – really hard for some of us – especially if the critical thoughts are deeply ingrained. But with practice you can learn to be self-compassionate.

And remember that there’s nothing self-indulgent about being kind to yourself. (This is a common misconception.) Tirch cites research that’s actually found the opposite: People who are self-compassionate tend to be less self-indulgent.

As he writes, “To operate from the compassionate mind is to have a deep appreciation of the suffering of both others and ourselves.”

Learn more about Dennis Tirch and his work at his website.

Snuggling With the Demons

(It’s good to re-cycle! …Even old articles :)

demonsnuggles

In order to truly reach our potential as unique human beings, we must face our Demons – those parts of Self that don’t feel very respectable; the parts you’d like to disown; those aspects you do not want to accept about yourself.

Carl Jung coined the term “The shadow” to describe our demons. It’s the unconscious composite of self that has been repressed, suppressed or disowned. Our shadow often has both positive and negative aspects. For instance, the shadow of someone who identifies with self as being kind may not be able to see when he or she is being harsh or unpleasant. And a person’s shadow can have hidden positive qualities that have been repressed. The shadow of a person who perceives himself to be unfeeling may not see that he or she can also be tender. Jung described the unconscious is an active part of the normal human psyche, and that “neurosis results from a disharmony between the individual’s unconsciousness and the higher Self”.

The first task on the path to your potential happens when you become aware of your inner states of being – your motives, emotional reactions, and patterns of thought – as you experience the world around you. If you look into your own life, you will notice that your beliefs and expectations, many of them formed in early childhood, skew your experience of reality. And the effects of cultural, historical, and environmental influences may be beyond our individual ability to control. But many of those influences can be challenged. It begins with awareness.

Becoming aware is enormously important in freeing you from these patterns, but awareness will not, by itself, remove them altogether. At the level of daily living, these insights do not “fix” the old patterned emotional tendencies. You still have the same difficulties in your relationships, the same tendency to confirm what you think you already know, and drudge on, wishing it would all change.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

~Albert Einstein

Only by learning to investigate and integrate our unconscious patterns of thinking and feeling can we become whole and end our imprisoned patterns that cause most of our suffering. We must stop pushing away moments of discomfort, but instead welcome them as opportunities to see into and eventually through the unexamined aspects of self that have been driving us.

Making the unconscious conscious is a radical kind of responsibility for the self, and the only true path to freedom and authenticity.

“Each time we bring the light of awareness into the corners of our psyche, it is like turning on the light in a dark room. As we get accustomed to the feelings, we find we can leave the light on. The monsters and dragons reveal themselves to be shadows. Then we don’t have to do anything to get rid of them. It’s as if they were never even there.” ~ Sally Kempton

Our supposed demons have their own gifts and challenges. But the perfect way to tame each of them is by learning to understand them, appreciate their message, and give them the simple things they need. As soon as these parts of self feel understood,  they tend to no longer threaten us. They become assets instead of liabilities.

Psychotherapy can help you learn to transform these unconscious energies into snuggly beasts. I haven’t met a client who didn’t love themselves more after meeting their demons with understanding. Maybe a therapist can help you, too.

What Is “Awakening”?

Worth Reading Off the Web – The author, Scott Kiloby is an international speaker on the subject of freedom through non-dual realization, a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor/Registered Addiction Specialist.

EveningofLight

EveningofLight

Awakening is a living, breathing, constantly unfolding moment-by-moment adventure.

The Head-Awakening

What gets passed off as awakening is a certain shifting that happens, where one sees that they are not the concepts in their heads. In awareness-styled awakenings (there are different awakenings that look and feel differently in different traditions – awareness-styled is just one), the shift usually involves some sort of non-conceptual realization of awareness, being, presence or no self that seems to be an end point at first. It can be a sudden or gradual shifting, but people generally report this kind of change in perception. Things are seen to come and go within awareness inseparably or things seem to come and go but there is no self to be found.

Because this opening reveals a profound seeing that separate things, including a separate self, are not really there, it is easy to see why the proclamation of “I’m done”. In many ways, one is done – done with seeking as a self in time and in thought. But this is only a head-awakening. Even in a head-awakening, it can feel as if the body is open and transparent at first. But given time, areas of the body that are dense with the feeling of separation start to become conscious.

There are at least two other big areas to be navigated after a head-awakening.

1. The baggage of mental concepts around awakening itself.

2. The body.

Let’s start with the mental concepts. In my experience, there is a desire in many people to grasp mentally what has been realized. There are elaborate conceptual frameworks devised to “make sense” of awakening, just as this writing is a conceptual framework. There’s nothing wrong with having a conceptual framework, until it becomes the new mental prison. Just as there is a rush to a head-awakening, there is often a rush to neatly place the realization into certain conceptual boxes. There are many boxes. All the buzzwords you hear in awakening circles can be imprisoning boxes, including:

• “we create our own reality”
• “everything is just a concept”
• “nothing is true”
• “life is a divine mystery”
• “oneness is the ultimate truth”
• “no self”
• “awareness”
• “I AM”
• “all there is, is THIS”
• “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao”
• “The Middle Way”

People can spend years after a head awakening endlessly identifying with all sorts of mental stuff around the awakening. This is the time when people desire to be teachers. I went through it. It’s really very innocent and comes from good intentions. But what gets passed off is only what a teacher has realized, nothing more. And many times what gets passed off are ideas about static, fixed things that are taken to be objectively true and real. Spiritual experiences and realizations get concretized into doctrine or dogma or “this is the only way” type thinking.

Eventually, what becomes important is the living of the realization itself, rather than the conceptualizing and understanding of it.

Conceptualizing goes on, but things are held a lot more lightly and non-seriously. The Living Inquiries were born out of my experience of being first immersed in certain boxes and then turning attention towards the moment-by-moment living and seeing.

The Body

The body has its own say in the matter. There are other chakras – not just the crown and mind’s eye. The heart can feel heavy, dense and closed for years after a head awakening. So can the root chakra, the sacral, the stomach and the throat. The result is often an arising of addictions, anxieties, self-limiting thoughts, grasping after understanding, issues with money, depression, big ego trips, issues with control and jealousy. I found this out by proclaiming that I was done too early. My issue was the continuation of certain addictions long after the head awakening. In my conversations with other teachers, they reported similar things. It takes a while, sometimes years, after a head awakening to fully see the darker, denser aspects of the body that remain closed. This is why becoming a teacher right after a head awakening is not a great idea. It’s like the blind leading the blind.

Adyashanti speaks eloquently about the post-awakening dilemma. Somewhere between 3 to 7 years after an awakening, the other shoe drops. Everything that was held in the mind and body and that was not seen through in that awakening will come up and bite you. It’s like it all wants to be seen and released. And it can be painful. You can even wonder why you started the awakening process to begin with. The body awakening doesn’t happen through seeking. It happens just from remaining open and working with those energies in skillful ways.

Try working with a therapist on this “Shadow” self. It is the doorway to greater and greater levels of evolution and freedom.

Article Source: http://kiloby.com/premature-claims-to-awakening/