Today I caught myself. This morning I woke up, and I chose a better way than the day before. I’m celebrating, because I’m evolving. I’m aware of the choices I made yesterday that aren’t serving me, and I’m choosing to do my best today — to love and accept myself, even though I’ve made these bad choices. It’s taken me a LONG time to get here (Deep Breath), and today it feels good. I used to always (and let’s get real — I sometimes still do!) beat myself up emotionally over my mistakes.
In my experience, there are two main ways to deal with failures. One is to see them from the bigger prospective, acknowledging our mistakes as opportunities for learning, and doing better (I don’t know about you, but this awesome option wasn’t one I was introduced to early in life), and the other is to choose shame and self-punishment.
I’m not proud to say that the latter has been my historical go-to for times when I feel disappointed in myself. I say I’m not proud, because at some point in my adult life I realized that this response takes me further away from where I want to be. Specifically, this choice keeps me where I am, and even spirals me further down into the darkness.
Here’s an example…Let’s say you have a good habit going of eating super healthy, not snacking between meals, and you’re feeling really good about that. Then, one day you wake up feeling a little down, melancholy, or just not feeling very motivated. Maybe that morning you choose not to make your green smoothie, you have coffee instead of tea, and you have several cookies between breakfast and lunch. Then to top it off, the house is a mess, and you’re so occupied with scheduling and planning for work that you neglect the kids that morning and their response to your lack of attention is to act like rabid monkeys, destroying their bedroom in the process of fighting one another incessantly, which leads to you losing it, yelling, and saying things you wished you hadn’t.
I’m painting a picture of one of “those days” (or weeks, or years) where you see yourself stuck in a pattern of making choices that you are NOT proud of. Have you been there? Your scenario could be completely different — it could be anything that sets you off. In these times, my reaction (to my reactions, ironically — how convoluted is that?) has often been to BLAME and SHAME myself, which only perpetuates the behaviors in myself that I don’t want. Sure it’s good to feel a certain amount of guilt if you hurt someone, but *SHAME* is in a whole different ball park. Shame is keeping it your own dirty little secret, staying in a negative mindset about it, and even punishing yourself.
Here’s some ways that I’ve punished myself — continuing the behaviors that are causing me misery (and driving the nail deeper), denying myself of the good behaviors like self-care practices (eating well, exercising, relaxation…), ignoring life, choosing distraction over self-reflection, etc. Interesting, right?
I’m 41 and I’m just beginning to learn how to have a good relationship with my Self. I’m learning that I respond better, and bounce back much more quickly, when I’m GENTLE with myself. Imagine that! Are you wondering what “being gentle with yourself” looks like? Well, instead of a week of cookie-eating and Netflix-bingeing, it means that when I see my actions are out of integrity with my intention of how I want to be, I call myself out of the “snowball effect” I’ve created (without judging), and into the silence. I take some deep breaths and get quiet and look at my behavior, knowing that my desire to get past this pattern is dependent upon whether I can ACCEPT myself, pick myself up, be with the really awful feelings that are there for me. Be with this discomfort with my melancholy that led to the shame, that led to emotional eating, that led to anger, that led to yelling, that led to more shame, and then self-loathing, which got me to the mindset that I don’t deserve help, or love, or self-care. Heavy stuff. By being with these feelings and paying attention to body sensations that accompany them, I give myself the opportunity to DIGEST all of it, to empathize with my own experience. To recognize that my tender heart is hurting, and to be right there for my sad/hurt/angry/disappointed/numb Self in a space of unconditional love. This is how we shift emotions. They aren’t meant to be stored in our bodies, or ignored.
Emotions are meant to bring awareness to something we need to acknowledge and deal with, so that they can move on and out of us.
This is NOT easy work, mind you. This is some of the hardest work we can do — re-patterning our brains as adults. After-all, 80% of the brain structures are formed by age 2, so we are talking about literally RE-WIRING. But the alternative is having a life you don’t want, because your body and mind continue to be poisoned by all of the unprocessed emotions that are making your life harder and your outlook more grim and jaded. So…my vote is for personal growth. What about you? If you’d like to share, please post any thoughts, or questions below. I would love to hear about your experiences with your own inner evolution!
Want more? This Thursday (1/26) JOIN ME at 3:00pm Mountain Time on my Facebook page. I will be doing a Facebook Live video talking more about this mind/body work and leading a guided meditation to bring awareness to the inner landscape of our emotions, and the physical sensations that can serve as a map to uncovering and shifting our habitual patterns.
STILL want MORE?
If my words wake up something within you and you feel called to work with me one-on-one, please contact me to set up a consult. I coach women to live a wholistically healthy, thriving life of freedom, passion, and joy, aligned with their deepest truth and power. I want everyone to know that they are worthy and powerful, and that they CAN live the life they want to live. I want YOU to know YOU have a choice!