Compassion to self

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Take a shower, wash off the day. Drink a glass of water. Make the room dark. Lie down and close your eyes.
Notice the silence. Notice your heart. Still beating. Still living. You made it, after all. You made it, another day. And you can make it one more.
You’re doing just fine.

Be kind to your self your self will appreciate it and repay you in kind.

Denial

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Any­time we deny our feel­ings we set our­selves up for a vic­tim per­spec­tive. Feel­ings are real. They are “energy-in-motion.” When we dis­count or under­mine our emo­tions we end up over­taken by them, becom­ing impul­sive reac­tors. We can’t take respon­si­bil­ity for our­selves when we refuse to acknowl­edge our feel­ings, which means that these dis­avowed “inner tyrants” will go on dri­ving our behav­ior from behind the scenes.

Although it is true that our feel­ings are gen­er­ated by what we believe, feel­ings are nonethe­less impor­tant. They alert us when we are think­ing unhappy thoughts; feel­ing “bad,” for instance, lets us know we are think­ing a most unhappy, pos­si­bly dis­torted, belief. Instead of deny­ing the feel­ing, we learn to fol­low the feel­ing in to the belief behind it. This is where true inter­ven­tion is pos­si­ble. The feel­ing dis­si­pates once the belief behind it is made con­scious and addressed. We learn to rec­og­nize that our feel­ings are what point us to the lim­it­ing beliefs that are keep­ing us stuck on the triangle.

Par­ents who never learned that feel­ings fol­low thought and who grew up with­out per­mis­sion to acknowl­edge or express feel­ings often deny their chil­dren the same right. They may have decided early in life that cer­tain feel­ings are wrong or bad, so they deny and repress them with­out exam­in­ing the rul­ing thoughts behind the feelings.

Telling our­selves that our feel­ings are unac­cept­able does not make them go away. As long as we con­tinue to attach belief to painful sto­ries about our­selves and oth­ers we will go on gen­er­at­ing these same neg­a­tive feel­ings. When sup­pressed, these denied emo­tions become secret pock­ets of shame within the psy­che. They only serve to alien­ate us from oth­ers and sen­tence us to a life on the triangle.

Some­times we deny feel­ings in an ill-fated attempt to avoid feel­ing bad. Per­haps we tell our­selves that we can’t han­dle our feel­ings, that they are too much for us. We may think we are at the mercy of our own mis­ery because we don’t know from where these feel­ings come or what to do with, or about them. Maybe it is bet­ter to stay away from these messy inner states under such circumstances.

But when we know that it’s our thoughts that pro­duce painful feel­ings; that indeed our unhappy feel­ings act as gate­ways into greater under­stand­ing of our­selves — then we no longer have the need to sup­press uncom­fort­able feel­ings. Until we are able rec­og­nize and grasp the impli­ca­tions of these sim­ple truths how­ever, we may go on try­ing to escape pain using var­i­ous sup­pres­sion tac­tics. These attempts at avoid­ance only keep us stuck with dysfunctional behaviour patterns where the guar­an­teed out­come is suf­fer­ing and misery. Getting honest with yourself is the basic requirement for getting unstuck from dysfunctional patterns of behaviour.

Of course, when feel­ings are denied, hon­esty is impos­si­ble. Remem­ber that denial comes out of neg­a­tive self judg­ment. If we have decided on some level that we can­not accept our thoughts, behav­ior or feel­ings then, chances are, we will not be able to admit we have them. It’s too painful to admit some­thing about our­selves that we have judged as unac­cept­able. We must prac­tice self accep­tance if we are truly going to be able to be hon­est with our­selves and others.

The Rule About Beliefs

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Unhealthy beliefs about our­selves and the world, instilled in child­hood, become rigid rules that may need to be vio­lated. Fam­ily dic­tums such as, “don’t talk about it”, “don’t share feel­ings”, or “it’s self­ish to take care of your­self,” are some of the old beliefs that have ruled us and must be chal­lenged if we are to find inner peace. We can expect, and even cel­e­brate, uncom­fort­able feel­ings when they come up for us, learn­ing to see them as oppor­tu­ni­ties for free­ing our­selves of the painful beliefs that keep us trapped in negative patterns of behaviour.

Some­times we sim­ply need to sit with an uncom­fort­able feel­ing such as guilt, with­out act­ing on it. Guilt does not nec­es­sar­ily imply that we have behaved wrong or uneth­i­cally. Guilt is often a learned response. Some­times guilt just means that we’ve bro­ken a dys­func­tional family pattern.

I am reminded of a story I often hear among ther­a­peu­tic cir­cles about the way to cook a ham.

A lit­tle girl noticed her mother cut­ting the butt end off the ham to cook it for the fam­ily hol­i­day din­ner and asked, “Why do you cut off the end to cook it?” The mother with­out giv­ing it a moment’s thought, replied, “Why, this is the way my mother always cooked a ham, so I know it’s the right way to do it!” Well, the lit­tle girls grand­mother hap­pened to live close by, so she vis­ited her and asked her the same ques­tion, “Grandma, why do you cut the butt end off the ham before you cook it?” Her grand­mother replied that her mother had taught her to cook a ham like that. Great granny hap­pened to be vis­it­ing for the hol­i­day so the lit­tle girl went to her and asked the same ques­tion — and this time she got the “real” answer  “Child, when I was cook­ing hams back then, I only owned one bak­ing pan and it was too small to hold a whole ham so I would cut the butt end off the ham to make it fit!”

This is how it happens. We fol­low, with­out ques­tion, fam­ily dic­tums and inter­nal­ized beliefs that create noth­ing but misery.

A comfort zone in hell.

A wealthy man died and knocked on the pearly gates. Saint Peter opened the door and asked him what he desired. The rich man said, “I would like a first-class room with a good view of the earth, my favourite foods every day, and also the daily paper”

Saint Peter hesitated, but the rich man was adamant. Saint Peter shrugged his shoulders and gave him a first class room with a good view of the earth, and brought him his favourite foods and the daily paper. He said well “here is what you wanted, I will be back in a thousand years.” Then he left and locked the door.

After the thousand years had passed, he returned and looked into the room through the peephole. “There you are at last”, cried the rich man. “This heaven is a terrible place”.

Saint Peter shook his head and looked at him with pity. “You are mistaken” he said “You chose hell”

When we hold on to the past we create as many problems for ourselves as trying to control the future, holding onto the past limits our freedom. Nothing changes or grows in the comfort zone, rather it stagnates. It becomes a living hell. It should come as no surprise that the majority of people in the world would rather be miserable than experience joy or happiness, such that therapy and personal development is often ridiculed or demeaned. Playing safe to avoid problems does not provide any security or protection, it simply limits our experience. If we have courage and faith to leave the comfort zone, challenge the beliefs we inherited or learnt there is a strong possibility that we will indeed experience something different, what surprises people who take those brave steps out of their comfort zone is that what they experience is often far better, not because life has suddenly become easier, as our perception of life changes the results are surprising because it is different from what we could contrive or wish from the comfort zone. A whole new world of possibilities open up to us, this is heaven.