Posts tagged with ‘self love’

06 jan

Pet The Lizard

RickHansonDown deep, do you feel at ease?
The Practice:
Pet the lizard.
Why?

I’ve always liked lizards.

Growing up in the outskirts of Los Angeles, I played in the foothills near our home. Sometimes I’d catch a lizard and stroke its belly, so it would relax in my hands, seeming to feel at ease.

In my early 20’s, I found a lizard one chilly morning in the mountains. It was torpid and still in the cold and let me pick it up. Concerned that it might be freezing to death, I placed it on the shoulder of my turtleneck, where it clung and occasionally moved about for the rest of the day. There was a kind of wordless communication between us, in which the lizard seemed to feel I wouldn’t hurt it, and I felt it wouldn’t scratch or bite me. After a few hours, I hardly knew it was there, and sometime in the afternoon it left without me realizing it.

Now, years later, as I’ve learned more about how the brain evolved, my odd affinity for lizards has started making sense to me. To simplify a complex journey beginning about 600 million years ago, your brain has developed in three basic stages: Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on January 6th, 2012 in General, Health, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

07 oct

Feel Cared About

RickHansonWhen Have People Been Caring?
The Practice
Feel cared about.
Why?

Everyone knows what it’s like to care about someone. Remember being with a friend, a mate, a pet: you feel warmly connected, and want him or her not to suffer and to be happy.

On the other hand, you’ve probably had the sense, one time or another, of not being cared about. That you didn’t matter to another person, or to a group of people. Maybe they weren’t actively against you, but they sure weren’t for you.

As soon as you recall a time like that, it’s immediately clear why it’s important to feel cared about – which is to the heart what water is to your body.

Sometimes we feel embarrassed about our yearnings to be cared about. But they are completely normal – and deeply rooted in evolution. Love, broadly defined, has been the primary driver of the development of the brain over the last 80 million years.

Our ancestors – mammals, primates, hominids, and humans – survived and flourished and passed on their genes by learning to find good mates, bond with their young, draw males in to provide for children, create “the village it takes to raise a child” whose brain is quadrupling in size after birth and thus needs a long and vulnerable childhood, and team up with each other to compete with other bands for scarce resources.

In this context, being cared about was crucial to survival. Mammals, etc. that did not care about being cared about did not pass on their genes. No wonder you care about being cared about!

Studies show that feeling cared about buffers against stress, increases positive emotions, promotes resilience, and increases caring for others. Plus it feels darn good. Read more »

Posted by Dr. Rick Hanson on October 7th, 2011 in Family, General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , , , ,

23 sep

Will You Still Love Me If…

MikeRobbinsNewOver the past few months I’ve been looking at the phenomenon of approval seeking that exists in my life and my relationships. My mother’s death has brought up an intense mix of emotions and reflections. Like most people, my mom was a fundamental source of love for me, especially early in my life. As such, I learned various ways, from quite a young age, to gain her approval. Although this evolved over time and I outgrew certain aspects of approval seeking from my mom specifically, I realize now that I was much more attached to her approval, even as an adult, than I thought I was.

The irony is that this had very little to do with my mother herself. While she did have strong opinions, like most of us, and she and I dealt with our fair share of conflicts and challenges in our relationship, I never questioned her love, commitment, and loyalty to me. Much of the “conditionality” in our relationship (i.e. me thinking I had to be a certain way to be loved and accepted) was self imposed. As I’ve looked at this more deeply in the recent months, I realize this is also true in just about all of the relationships in my life – family, friends, clients, and more.

I read a great book a number of years ago written by my friend, mentor, and counselor of seventeen years, Chris Andersonn, called Will You Still Love Me if I Don’t Win? This book was written specifically for parents of young athletes, but has a much wider and broader message about both parenting and life – it’s really about how much pressure most of us feel as kids (and then throughout our lives) to perform for our parents and others.

This pressure to perform and to “live up to other people’s expectations” creates an enormous amount of stress in our lives. Clearly there are healthy expectations and positive forms of accountability that benefit us (i.e. when people around us expect excellence, integrity, kindness, success, and more which can, in fact, influence us in a positive way). However, more often than not, we place a great deal of pressure on ourselves to act, look, and “perform” in specific ways that we believe we “have” to in order to receive the love, acceptance, and approval we want (or sometimes feel we need) from others.

Consciously or unconsciously we tend to ask ourselves questions like, “Will you still love me if…”

- I tell you how I really feel
- I gain weight or my physical appearance changes
- I change jobs or careers
- I don’t succeed or produce specific results
- I disagree with you about important/sensitive stuff
- I don’t live up to your standards/expectations
- I want to alter or renegotiate the nature of our relationship

These and many other questions like them create an intense dynamic of pressure in our lives and relationships. And in many cases, like I’ve recently realized with my mom, we create most of this pressure ourselves. Often the place where unconditional love is lacking most significantly is within us. We have a tendency to be quite hard on ourselves and to have lots of conditions in place for our own approval. This demand for perfection is always a set up for a failure.

What if we let go of our conditions and just loved and accepted ourselves and others exactly the way we and they are right now? Acceptance isn’t about resignation, it’s about freedom, peace, and appreciation. When we practice unconditional love and acceptance it doesn’t mean that everything is “perfect” or that things can’t or won’t change in a positive way. However, love and acceptance are about appreciating the way things are and trusting that we and other people are “good enough”.

Seeking the approval of others is something most of us learn to do early in life and is actually a natural, normal, and healthy aspect of our growth as human beings. However, as we evolve, seeking approval not only becomes problematic, but can be quite damaging if we don’t consciously pay attention to it and ultimately alter it.

Here are three things you can do to loosen the grip of approval seeking:

Notice – Pay attention to your approval seeking tendencies. In what relationships and situations does this show up most often for you? Like most things in life, change starts with awareness, so noticing when, how, and what specifically it is that you do or say (in your head or out loud) in terms of seeking approval is the first step.

Share – Talk about this with the specific people in your life it impacts the most – your significant other, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your boss, your clients, and more. Because much of this stuff is self imposed, when we start talking about it we often realize that we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves, in many cases unnecessarily. In other cases there may be some unspoken dynamics in place that can be altered by having honest and vulnerable conversations. Either way, talking about it will almost always help alter things in a positive way.

Give To Yourself – Give yourself that which you are seeking, which in most cases is love and acceptance. The source of much of our pain and suffering, as well as our joy and happiness is us. So often we’re looking for others to give to us that which we need to give to ourselves. When we love and approve of ourselves, two important things happen. First of all, we become less needy of the approval of others. Second, because we are giving it to ourselves and aren’t as needy of it from others, we often get even more love and acceptance from those around us.

While this may seem simple and straight forward, it can be tricky for many of us as our patterns of approval seeking began before we had language and at a time in our lives that we can’t even access with conscious memory. As we do this important internal work, it’s essential that we’re gentle, kind, and compassionate with ourselves. And, when we remember that the love, acceptance, and approval we’re truly seeking is our own, we’re reminded that the answer is right inside of us, like it almost always is.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on September 23rd, 2011 in General, Relationships, Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

20 may

Finding Ground in Mid-Change

ScottSchwenkHow many of you remember that old commercial in the late 70’s/early 80’s:

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-roll pop?”

If I had a dollar for every time my mind had that kind of thought around my growth process, I’d be sitting on some huge cash reserves! I don’t know about you, but for me, and most of the clients I’ve worked with, future growth can’t be calculated or measured like that. Usually when my mind is asking for something like that, it’s really looking for some kind of certainty, some sense of solid ground on which to feel safe.

Recently I’ve been looking and feeling deeper than ever into some of the core layers of ego inside of me; layers that can actively distort my thoughts and emotions about nearly anything if I’m not vigilant. These are the layers of what some spiritual teachers call “inner division” – they create a feeling of being separate from the sense of well-being most people would say that strive to get to. They create a feeling of being separated from love essentially. Getting more specific, I’d call it self-love.

This afternoon while I was speaking with my friend and mentor, David Elliott, about his new book “Healing”, I was talking about my experience of working with the first exercise in the book – “Write down all the ways you love yourself.”

I told David that generally my list starts with activities, things I’ve done to or for myself that would seem loving. Yet my real sense of self-love is that it’s not based in actions, but is most definitely reflected in actions. If I do not love myself while taking a shower, it’s just a mechanical act. If I consciously actively love myself while showering, it’s a whole other experience that leaves me feeling expansive, refreshed, and full of joy.

It’s a feeling that I’m learning to cultivate and sense regardless of what I’m doing, or what’s happening around me. If my love for me is dependent on any particular set of circumstances, my love will be absent without those situations. If my willingness to move into flow and expansion is tied to what can be given to me, it can just as easily be taken away.

So far this might be sounding a little hard to wrap your head around and turn into practices that’ll abundantly reveal self-love.

For me some form of meditative practice is essential for revealing and experiencing the feeling of this love. At the moment, it’s a daily practice of sitting two times a day, once in the morning and once later in the day for a minimum of about 23 minutes. 23 minutes hasn’t got any special significance that I know of, it just happens to be the length of the CD track I’m using for meditation. Several times a week, I also practice the breathwork that I teach. Both of these constitute meditation practices that quiet my mind and open me to experiencing profound expansion, relaxation, and moments of no thoughts of any kind. There’s a palpable “Presence” that moves through my body like a buzz or humming feeling, the sense of feeling spaciousness in my cells, and an ease in my breath.

It’s also crucial for me to get some form of exercise daily. I need a combination of working with weights (which help me feel strong, grounded, and solid in my body) and cardio (which also gets my breath moving deeply and into a rhythm – excellent on the days I haven’t practiced the breathwork).

Then throughout the day, when any thought arises that carries or stimulates some form of tension or negative emotion, I’ve learned to question the truth of the thought. The best-selling author Byron Katie teaches that any thought that creates suffering indicates an argument with reality and a belief in something that isn’t true. The way to release the stuck emotion is to show myself the truth by asking myself good questions.

One of my favorite questions is “Can I know this is the absolute Truth for certain?”

And finally, keeping all the spaces I occupy clean. That goes all the way from physically cleaning and organizing my home, office, and car to maintaining the ecology of my relationships. I have a practice of regularly scrolling through the contacts in my iPhone and noticing my thoughts and body sensations. If my stomach clenches when I look at a name, I know I’ve got some work to do. And doing this work always gives me more space to breathe. It may mean questioning my beliefs or thoughts about the person, or it may mean picking up the phone and finding out if there’s an amends I need to make.

All these practices are scalable, meaning they’re to be experimented with, tried out over time, and adapted to the situations. By no means is this the end of the road on practices either. Essentially I look for practices to cover the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual…all of me.

I also check in to make sure I’m having some fun. This is a muscle I know I need to keep focused on building. If I’m not careful I can start to get a little too serious, and it’s only a few steps from seriousness to heaviness.

While excavating the Truth within, or even just navigating what’s real in a relationship, things can appear distorted and the process can feel incredibly destabilizing. It continues to be priceless for me to get more comfortable being uncomfortable, to find the solid ground I’ve been looking for within myself, where no person or circumstance can take it away. It’s a knowing.

All the things I listed above are activities that help me feel clear and awake so I can actively perceive the solid ground within. Find your own, experiment, and do something long enough to see results. Then use the results to refine your experimentation. And have some fun along the way.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Scott Schwenk on May 20th, 2010 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,

09 feb

Love Yourself, and the Rest Will Follow

mike_robbinsHow do you feel about self love? More importantly, how well do you love yourself? For most of us, loving ourselves is something we may know is important, but often have difficulty actually feeling, expressing, and embodying.

For me, I’ve spent much of my life – as a student, an athlete, in business, in relationships, and in general – demanding perfection of myself, and of course, falling short and then feeling inadequate on a regular basis. Most people I know and work with have some version of “I’m not good enough” that runs their life, their work, and their relationships.

As we lead up to Valentine’s Day this weekend and think about the important people in our lives whom we love (or the fact that we wish we had more love in our lives), much of our focus tends to be outward and not inward.

Self love is what we’re all searching for – in our work, our relationships, and our lives. Sadly, we spend most of our time thinking that someone or something else can give us what only we can give ourselves. To be truly fulfilled in life and relationships, we have to find the love within us and give it to ourselves. No other person, material possession, or accomplishment can do it. It’s up to us.

Especially when it comes to relationships, self love is essential. One of the best gifts we can give to the people around us is to love ourselves in a genuine way. As my mom used to say to me when I was young, “You can’t love anyone else, until you love yourself.”

Here are a few things to think about and practice as you deepen your own capacity for loving yourself:

1) Notice your relationship to self love. How do you feel about it, how comfortable are you with it, and what resistance do you have to loving yourself? Being honest about your own relationship to self love is the first step in altering it. Many of us have not been encouraged or taught to love ourselves. We have also not seen many healthy models of self love around us. And, we’re often much better at being hard on ourselves than we are at being kind and loving towards ourselves. Based on these and other factors, self love can be a bit tricky. Once we tell the truth about how we relate to self love, we can start to expand our ability to love ourselves in a more real way.

2) Let go of your conditions. When it comes to loving ourselves, if we even put much attention on it, we often do so in a very conditional way. We love ourselves only when we do “good” things, “succeed” in specific ways, or take care of ourselves in ways we deem important. While there’s nothing wrong with us feeling good about ourselves in relationship to these and other “positive” things, truly loving ourselves is an unconditional process – which means accepting, appreciating, and celebrating all of who we are, both light and dark. By letting go of our conditions and loving ourselves in the unconditional, like how way we often love babies, animals, or others we have little or no specific expectations of, we can start to deepen our authentic love for ourselves.

3) Start practicing, right now. Do anything and everything you can to express love for yourself – right now, not after you think you “deserve” it. Since most of us have some resistance to loving ourselves, taking any and every self loving action we can think of is important. There are lots of things we can do – both big and small – to practice loving ourselves. Speaking kindly about ourselves, taking compliments graciously, taking care of ourselves, honoring our emotions, pampering ourselves, celebrating our successes (and failures), appreciating our “flaws,” and much more are all simple (although not always easy) things we can do to practice self love. Also, be willing to ask for help and look to others who seem to do a good job at this, so you can get the support and guidance that you need. Loving ourselves is a life-long, never ending practice.

Self love is the starting point, not the end game, of our conscious growth and development. For most of us, myself included, it’s much easier to talk about loving ourselves than it is to actually practice it. However, when we put our attention on loving ourselves in an authentic way, everything in our lives that is important to us – our work, our relationships, our goals, and more – flows from there with a sense of ease, joy, and, most important, love.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Mike Robbins on February 9th, 2010 in General, Relationships, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

20 jan

Ripe With Love

Back a few years ago, I fell in love with someone new. The moment I met him, I knew he was someone I wanted to know deeply. I met him with a wide-open heart.

You know that feeling of being so ready for love? Where the eagerness and light-heartedness far outweigh your wisdom and discernment? That’s where I was.

You see, I had just completed an intense transformational retreat where my heart was broken open – open so wide, that it found its way back to its natural tendency to trust. I had finally come through the deep grief of my late-husband’s death, a death that had plucked me out of Kansas and dropped me in Oz. Death didn’t provide me with ruby slippers, though. Death seems to be like that. It doesn’t give you a way home to the old life. Instead, you must travel through the darkness to discover the new life waiting on the other side.

So I found myself with this brilliant heart of light. I had known deep lasting love with my late-husband, and I felt eagerness to love again. But, I was different now, and I didn’t yet know how different I was.

So, here I was ready for love. I dove right in. It was deep and rich and sweet. Then it ended. He ended it. It wasn’t mean to be. I can see that now, but back then, I didn’t see it coming. My very pink heart took one hell of a hit.

I fell hard. I curled up inside my shell and thought long and hard about giving my heart away so easily. Why hadn’t I seen it coming? Why did I trust so easily and carelessly?

And then I saw it. I saw how I had left myself to be in relationship with him. I didn’t see it happening at the time. But, in the aftermath of rejection, I realized I felt untethered and unmoored. I was no longer solidly in myself. I was hanging out there. I was perched precariously in no-man’s land – literally. The man I thought was there had moved on.

Somewhere along the way, I had gone from ‘in here with me’ to ‘over there with him’. The realization shook me to the core. When had it happened? How could I have done that to myself?

I decided I wasn’t going to date again until I found the wisdom that must accompany the open trusting heart. I needed time to understand. I needed time to make sense of the lesson that was being offered up.

So I sat with myself. And I felt. And I danced. This is when I began to dance as a practice, a practice that provided the opening to embodiment. And, I began to be really honest with myself. I began to see how much I had projected onto this man. I could see how enveloping an open heart can be when it’s not grounded in oneself and balanced with discernment and wisdom.

My teacher has since talked about what happens when the heart opens, how it can lead us into places we don’t expect to be when its not yet tempered with the wisdom that comes after the opening. But at the time, I had to learn this myself.

While he wasn’t all that gracious or compassionate in how he went about ending the relationship, I saw his ending it as rejection. This was another sign I had left me. The good thing about this was that the feeling of rejection was my doorway in, my doorway into me. I suddenly saw me, my own reflection in his rejection and I realized it was time to come inside to find the love I was longing for. I wasn’t really longing for him, the man out there. I was longing to know me, to stand by me, to stay with me from the beginning.

Then, they came unannounced, as they so often do. Words came. Words came up through my body and out through my fingers. Wisdom wound its way up from somewhere down in the dark recesses, places I had pushed away a long time ago.

Wisdom coursed out my fingers onto the page. No editing was necessary, for it knew itself fully before it was formed.

When the writing was done, I stood up from the desk and went to throw up. I threw up as if I was expelling something poisonous from my body – and I was. They were poisonous beliefs that kept me looking out there for love. As these beliefs were released, wisdom, that had longed to see the light of day, flooded my body and mind, wisdom that was meant for me.

Wisdom hungers to be known by the one it loves.

ripe with love

You see me here, strong and soft, eager and afraid,
my heart racing with desire
to be seen and heard,
to be held and to hold.

I am here,
emerging
from this bondage placed on me long ago,
from this cage of sin, fault, and fear.

I found the key
to my release when
I saw myself
in the reflection of your rejection.

My open heart was
both weakness and threat, lover and enemy.
You saw me seeing you
and you shut the door on my escape.

But freedom is funny,
it was mine to find all along.
Redemption came
when I filled my emptiness, with the fullness of me.

The dive was deep, the way was dark.
On the surface I had only seen,
how I never quite matched up
with everything I was expected to be.

But as I dove deeper into the depths of my being,
A glorious Light began to emerge.
It came from a time long ago,
It called me home in a language I had long forgotten.

There, deep inside me, I found the seed
Planted long ago, at the beginning of time.
My deepest Self, my truest Truth
My inner being in perpetual Spring.

I am ripe with love,
Ripe with the nectar of passionate presence
I am here to hold you,
within the folds of my velvet petals.

Fall down, deep down, into the depths of my being.
For I blossom in time to break your fall
As you land with a thundering whisper,
“Catch me, please catch me.”

Open yourself to the center of me.
Drink deeply the love that has been waiting for you,
waiting with timeless patience,
knowing what has always been, will be again.

Let me lay side-by-side with you.
Let me feel again how perfect the fit is,
if we only allow ourselves to relax
into the shape we already are.

Remember the rightness of this fit.
Don’t fight what you know to be true.
I can love side by side again,
Knowing the love comes through me to you.

You see me here,
soft and strong, knowing and sure.
My heart is filled with the truest Truth and the brightest Light
See your Self reflected in my love.

~ Julie Daley

::

Why am I sharing this with you today? After I wrote my post of last week, The Courage to Sin, I remembered this poem, written as I traveled from ‘out there’ to ‘in here’, as I came back from ‘out there with him’ to ‘back in here with me’. I remembered how I had wound my way out of the structures that I had believed in for all those years, structures that told me I could only find love ‘out there’.

And in writing the post about sin, I revisited the sense of rejection: rejection of self, rejection of body, women rejecting each other, rejection of men, and rejection by society of the natural, intrinsic beauty of the feminine nature of things. Perhaps I’ve gone from the microcosm to the macrocosm. Seems like I’m traveling in circles.

I see that current-day cultures, fed by patriarchal beliefs and practices, reject the woman who speaks truth, the woman with a voice, the woman with fire, the woman that no longer wishes to roll over and play pretty.

Just as it was with the man ‘out there’, so it is with the world ‘out there’. I can’t find the wisdom ‘out there’. I can only find it in here, in the depths of my own being. And if I’m seeing rejection, then I’ve left myself. That’s the real pain, rejection of self.

Anything growing needs roots down deep into the earth to support its growth, to give it nourishment as it opens to the sun, rain, wind and stars. And so it is with humans. We, too, must have strong roots, grounded in the earth, so that we are nourished with wisdom, the wisdom of the feminine principle, the wisdom of Sophia. With this available to us, we can marry this with our internal masculine and come into a more balanced harmony within.

I have found my heart can open, and stay open, even in the most difficult times, as long as I am rooted in the body, rooted down into the center of things. If I am to truly love another, and I’m not just talking about the other I’m in relationship with, but all beings, my love must come from this grounded place within my own body, within my open heart. When the body is grounded in the earth, the heart is held by the body, and the mind is held by the heart, clarity, compassion and sovereignty can flourish.

I must remember this now as I begin to voice the truth of my own experience and as I listen, with an open heart, to women and men voice theirs.

This is where our power resides as human beings. It is available to us when our open hearts are grounded in wisdom. Power that isn’t power to dominate, but power to all the love we have to give. The seed of our wisdom was planted long ago. It remains, simply waiting for us to turn and look within.

::

And, you?

I wonder what you’ve experienced? What have you learned about an open heart and wisdom? What lessons have relationship, loss, and death taught you? What journeys have you taken within? How has wisdom hungered to be known within you? I’d love to hear. I’d love to know what you’ve discovered down in the depths of your own body and in the openness of your heart

Julie Daley is a coach, creativity catalyst and consultant. She leads women out from under the shadow of others and into sovereignty, interdependence and joy. Find out more at UnabashedlyFemale.com.

Posted by Julie Daley on January 20th, 2010 in Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , ,

12 jan

Love Your “Flaws”

mike_robbinsIf you’re anything like me you’ve probably spent more time than you’d like to admit trying to “fix” your various “flaws.” Although I may pretend otherwise, many of my own goals, desires, and even my motivation to “grow” has often come from a deep place of insecurity within me – thinking that if I could just fix what was wrong with me, then everything would be okay. I’ve been very aware of this dynamic as I’ve been in the process of creating my intentions for the New Year.

I recently had an insight, (one which I’ve had before but this time it came to me at a deeper level), that maybe instead of focusing on “fixing” my “flaws,” it’s more important to love them instead. I’ve resisted this notion of loving my flaws for most of my life, worrying that if I actually loved the things I thought were wrong with me, they’d somehow never change and I’d be stuck with them.

Ironically, it’s only love that leads to real healing and transformation – which ultimately can create the actual change we say we’re looking for, or a true sense of acceptance that gives us access to authentic freedom and liberation, regardless of circumstances.

At a deep level, all of our “flaws” are subjective and based on our own interpretations, perspectives, and focuses. We obsess about certain aspects of our body or appearance, our personality, our life or work circumstances and deem them as “bad” or “flawed.” But, the truth is they simply are as they are – we add the meaning and interpretation to them.

Regardless of how philosophical we get about it, however, most of us as human beings experience a sense of feeling flawed in certain aspects of our lives and at particular times in life. There is nothing wrong with us for feeling this way. Although, as we each know from experience – feeling flawed can rob us of our energy, our passion, our happiness, our confidence, and our life. It’s one of the most painful ways we allow our ego to run our lives and it can have devastating consequences if we’re not conscious about it.

Here are some ideas about what we can to move through our experience of feeling “flawed,” to a place of acceptance, peace, and love:

1) Acknowledge what’s true for you. The first step is almost every process of growth and transformation is about telling the truth. So often we try to avoid, run from, or pretend our “flaws” away. But, if we relate to some aspect of our bodies, personalities, relationships, careers, or lives in general as a flaw, we first have to get real about it if we’re going to do anything about it.

2) Admit and express the underlying emotions. If we can identify, acknowledge, and ultimately express the true emotions we’re experiencing related to this perceived flaw, we can create a real sense of liberation for ourselves. If a certain aspect of your personality, your body, or your career bothers you and because of it you find yourself feeling ashamed – as uncomfortable or potentially “negative” as it may seem, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge and express your shame. Emotions become positive when they are appropriately expressed and turn negative when they are denied and repressed. Although this is a different understanding of emotions than we’ve been taught, we’ve all had many liberating and positive experiences when we’ve expressed “negative” emotions (like sadness, anger, fear, and more). By expressing our real emotions, we can start to unlock and unhook ourselves from the drama and suffering of the situation, which is actually caused by our denial and repression of these emotions, not the emotions themselves.

3) Forgive yourself. This is a big one and something that many of us, myself included, don’t have a lot of experience with. Most of us have been trained to be hard on ourselves and also that forgiveness has to come from someone or something outside of us. However, true forgiveness comes from within us and is what ultimately sets us free in life. When we feel “flawed” in certain areas of our life, we often have a lot of blame and judgment – some of which may be directed towards other people or situations, but beneath that, most of it is directed at us. When we’re able to forgive ourselves in an authentic way, we create the space for real change and healing to take place.

4) Appreciate. The word appreciate doesn’t mean “like,” “agree with,” or “enjoy,” necessarily. Appreciate means to “recognize the value of something.” What have you learned about yourself and life by dealing with this “flaw?” While pain, issues, and challenges are not the only ways to grow in life, one of the many benefits of our challenges is that we get to learn a great deal about ourselves, others, and life in the process of dealing with them. When we move into a state of genuine appreciation and gratitude for the learning associated with the difficulty, we can move out of feeling sorry for ourselves (which never helps). It’s impossible to experience gratitude and victimhood simultaneously.

5) Love. The ultimate antidote for all suffering is love. Our ability to bring love to our flaws, to care for them with kindness and compassion (as we would for a child, a pet, or a loved one) is what will ultimately heal us and allow the true transformation we’re looking for to take place. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. When we love our flaws we create an environment where we’re either able to make the kinds of specific changes we truly want (from an authentic place of intention) or learn to love and accept ourselves whether an actual “change” takes place or not. Any issue, malady, or problem that shows up in our lives is an opportunity for us to deepen our capacity to bring love, give love, receive love, and accept love.

All of these things, in my own experience, are much easier said than done. And, when we’re able to tell the truth, express our real emotions, forgive ourselves, appreciate our flaws, and bring love to all aspects of our lives (both light and dark), we give ourselves the opportunity to transcend our flaws in a real way. This takes a great deal of intention, support, compassion, and patience. It is much easier to take a pill, avoid things, get busy and distracted, whine and complain, pretend things are “fine,” and various other things we’ve learned to do in life. However, leaning into our “flaws” in an authentic way and doing so with profound love for ourselves, is how we can genuinely heal and end the cycle of suffering.

Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Wiley). More info – www.Mike-Robbins.com

Posted by Mike Robbins on January 12th, 2010 in Health, New Directions, Spirituality, Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

06 jan

How to Listen to Your Heart

HeartFor me, 2010 will be the year of the heart.

In the West, most people think of the mind as being the source of insight, wisdom, knowledge and guidance. People think that the mind is where they will find the answers to life’s most important questions; it is where they think they will discover how to live. And yet for most people the mind is the seat of ignorance, confusion, and difficulty.

In other traditions, and in my own experience, the heart is the true seat of wisdom and knowledge. The mind get confused; the heart loves. The mind questions; the heart knows. The mind worries; the heart relaxes.

Now don’t get me wrong – the mind can be a very useful tool. When kept in its proper role, it is an incredible asset. But it should remain a servant, not a master.

As you learn to focus on your heart instead of on your mind, you will discover a whole new way of being in the world. You will be able to tap into wisdom, insight, and guidance that you never before imagined.

So consider this as a start for 2010: turn your attention to your heart; connect with the feeling of love, and share your love and gratitude. Are there people in your life who evoke a feeling of love? Did you experience blessings in 2009 that evoke a feeling of gratitude? Focus on these people or these blessings. Let them evoke the feelings of love and gratitude, and let these feelings pour out from you and gently guide your life.

Now one thing about this practice, and about following the path of the heart more generally: I am not promising that it might not be messy. Hearts can be broken. You can share your love and gratitude and have it rejected, and that hurts. You can give everything you have, offer all the love you can, and still feel hurt, betrayed, abandoned, unloved. There might be bumps, bruises, cuts, and scratches as you offer your tender heart.

But in my experience these pains and these hurts are never the end – they aren’t the final say. They don’t have the final word. The more you love, the more you give, the purer your heart becomes. Now this does not mean deplete yourself, abandon yourself, or deny yourself. Quite the contrary: it means love yourself completely; give yourself everything, and let this love become your life.

Always start by offering yourself love first. When you truly love yourself, you love others. For when you know how to love yourself, your heart becomes full. And your love begins to flower – it begins to bloom. You can begin to offer it, without regard for whether it gets returned or not. Your love might be returned; it might be reflected back to you. It might be rejected and denied because of someone else’s closed heart. But it does not matter. None of that matters. Because the love lives you; the love gives you. Your life becomes an expression of love and is complete in-and-of itself.

And the more this love flowers from within, the more beautiful the world becomes. Unexpected blessings flow into your life; grace finds you and begins to penetrate your being.

So in 2010, let your love flower. Love is not another item on your to-do list. Simply let it flower. Let it grow within your heart and radiate outward. And from this place of fullness, offer love to yourself, offer love to others, offer love to the Divine. Let your entire life become an expression of love and gratitude, for this life is truly an exquisite gift to be both given and received.

Wishing you a year filled with peace, love, and beauty always.

SarahMariaSarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing. Purchase your copy. Begin to love your body today. Visit www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com.

Posted by Sarah Maria on January 6th, 2010 in Uncategorized | 1 comment Read related posts in , , , ,