Through all the highs, lows and lessons love has brought me, there are a few things I have finally figured out that help me to continue courageously journeying down love’s path:
1. You will enter your next relationship as healthy as you left your last.
The amount of work you put into your current relationship will sow the seeds for your next. One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself and your partner is to stop blaming someone else for the issues at hand and own those “stuck” areas within yourself that need attention. Even if the relationship ends, it’s worth the effort to work on it to ensure the next one has a better chance for success.
Mel Schwartz, L.C.S.W. M.Phil. writes:
I have come to believe that the way the term self-esteem is used is actually a misnomer. The first half of the expression, self, would seem to indicate that esteem, the second half of the expression, is derived from one’s self. Yet if we look closer, we find that most people seek a sense of worthiness from that which lies outside of them. For a student, it might come from good grades; for a businessperson or worker, it’s derived from a promotion or a raise; and for most individuals, praise or acknowledgement provide a temporary increase in esteem. Our society generates billions of dollars in revenues from inducing people to seek the quick fix of vanity as a means toward feeling better. Yet none of these actually contributes one iota to self-esteem. Ironically, they may even get in the way.
Continue reading: Self Esteem or Other Esteem? | Psychology Today.
In the spirit of the upcoming ‘Twilight‘ movie, I would like to talk about the undead: vampires. More precisely, emotional vampires. Are there people in your life who just sap your emotional energy once they walk in the door? Do you feel totally spent after interacting with some people? There are vampires among us, and I am actually more frightened about sitting next to one at a dinner party than meeting Count Dracula himself.
My colleague Eli Finkel at Northwestern University conducted a very important series of studies on what he calls high-maintenance interactions. In essence, these studies are about social coordination, and how the lack of social coordination can deplete our ability to exert self-control.
Self-control is critical to everyday life. With high self-control, we can limit food temptations, complete difficult tasks at work, and, resist the urge to smack a co-worker when he/she is being a bit too condescending. Continue reading “How High-Maintenance Relationships Affect Your Psyche”
Meredith Melnick writes:
We hear it all the time: Meditation can improve our creative thinking, our energy, stress levels and even our success. Prominent artists, businessmen and politicians cop to the practice. Would it work for you?
“It did to my mind what going to the gym did to my body — it made it both stronger and more flexible,” said Dr. Hedy Kober, a neuroscientist who who studies the effects of mindfulness meditation, which she has practiced for 10 years, at her lab at Yale University. She admitted during a TED Talk that she started meditating to deal with a break up, but found that it helped her handle stress and unpleasant feelings in all areas of her life.
Studies show that meditation is associated with improvement in a variety of psychological areas, including stress, anxiety, addiction, depression, eating disorders and cognitive function, among others. There’s also research to suggest that meditation can reduce blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even cellular health. But what does it actually do to the body?
Jung wrote that our suffering arises from the unseen, unfelt parts of our psyche. This talk explores ways we can establish a healing presence by recognizing and communicating with the parts of our being that we habitually ignore or judge…
- On Intimacy With Immensity (cathykilpatrickleadership.wordpress.com)
- Intimacy…, Into Me See …, A Look Inside with NSA (sternwellnesscenter.com)
- Live Connected! – John 10.22-30 (akaaschoo.wordpress.com)
Brigitte Meinders writes:
The word “Namaste” has become quite mainstream thanks to the explosive popularity of the yoga industry in recent years. I’m sure you’ve said it before, and you probably have an idea of the general meaning of it. It’s a way for your soul to recognize and acknowledge the soul of another.
It would be amazing if more people took the time to really understand why we should ALL be saying Namaste to one another, and were able to shift their perspective a little bit to see other people for what they really are.
Think of yourself as a vessel filled with light. Light that changes colors depending on what angle you are looking at it, and those colors represent the many experiences you’ve had in your life. Your soul has become all of the sunsets you’ve watched, the ocean air you’ve breathed, the friends you’ve made, the love you’ve shared, the times that made you laugh and cry. You are all of your experiences.
Each and every person out there is the same way. The person in the car next to you, the cashier at the grocery store, your mailman, your friend, your spouse, even that annoying co-worker… they all carry with them that same ever-changing light, a spectrum of colors that uniquely defines them and their life experiences. They too have experienced love and pain, they have their history, their own things they hold dear, and have seen their own beautiful sights. No two are the same, yet we all have it inside us.
It’s so easy to see only the surface of a person and dismiss them for only what they are presenting to you in a given situation. But we’re all connected in that we carry around our entire life — each experience you have, each interaction, all of it is with you all the time.
The next time you find yourself passing a person on the street, in a meeting, or talking with your friends, try to be aware of the enormity of what they’re actually carrying around with them. Practicing this makes the ability to forgive and accept much easier.
To me, Namaste means that I see you. I understand we’re both souls trying to make our way in this world, all part of some larger plan. I know that while the color of our lights may shine differently, we all share the same internal fire, and my soul bows to and acknowledges that in your soul.
In case you are wondering, I am not a Buddhist — I am a recovering Catholic if you must know! It’s just that lately, the Uni-verse has been using people who are Buddhist to teach me. Keeping an open mind to the wisdom of their message has helped me to open my heart…
For most of my life, I have been a bitter, resentful, angry person. The story that I tell myself is that I came by it honestly. I’m a classic case of a person who suffered early childhood trauma around abandonment and rejection issues and much of my life has been spent in trying to get the people in my life now to make up for the things done by the people in my past. When this plan didn’t work [for reasons that are obvious to me now] I reacted with resentment and anger; first toward myself and then toward others… Continue reading “Which wolf will you feed?”
Have you tried to pump up your self-esteem? Kristen Neff explains why it doesn’t work in the long run:
In this incredibly competitive society of ours, how many of us truly feel good about ourselves?
I remember once, as a freshman in college, after spending hours getting ready for a big party, I complained to my boyfriend that my hair, makeup, and outfit were woefully inadequate. He tried to reassure me by saying, “Don’t worry, you look fine.”
“Fine? Oh great, I always wanted to look fine . . .” Continue reading “Why Self-Compassion Trumps Self-Esteem”
Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself?
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?
Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.
Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.
via Dorothy Hunt Poetry.
In my work I have defined self-compassion as having three main interacting components: self-kindness, a sense of common humanity and mindfulness. Self-kindness refers to the tendency to be caring and understanding with oneself rather than being harshly critical or judgmental. Instead of taking a cold “stiff-upper-lip” approach in times of suffering, self-kindness offers soothing and comfort to the self. Common humanity involves recognizing that all humans are imperfect, fail and make mistakes. It connects one’s own flawed condition to the shared human condition so that one can take greater perspective towards one’s personal shortcomings and difficulties. Mindfulness involves being aware of one’s painful feelings in a clear and balanced manner so that one neither ignores nor obsesses about disliked aspects of oneself or one’s life.
For the past decade or so I’ve been conducting research on self-compassion and have found that people who are compassionate to themselves are much less likely to be depressed, anxious and stressed and are much more likely to be happy, resilient and optimistic about their future. In short, they have better mental health.
The power of self-compassion is not just an idea; it’s very real and actually manifests in our bodies. When we soothe our own pain, we are tapping into the mammalian care-giving system. And one important way the care-giving system works is by triggering the release of oxytocin. Research indicates that increased levels of oxytocin strongly increase feelings of trust, calm, safety, generosity and connectedness and facilitates the ability to feel warmth and compassion for ourselves. Oxytocin is released in a variety of social situations, including when a mother breastfeeds her child, when parents interact with their young children or when someone gives or receives a soft, tender caress. Because thoughts and emotions have the same effect on our bodies whether they’re directed to ourselves or to others, this research suggests that self-compassion may be a powerful trigger for the release of oxytocin.
Self-criticism appears to have a very different effect on our body. The amygdala is the oldest part of the brain and is designed to quickly detect threats in the environment. When we experience a threatening situation, the fight-or-flight response is triggered: the amygdala sends signals that increase blood pressure, adrenaline and the hormone cortisol, mobilizing the strength and energy needed to confront or avoid a threat. Although this system was designed by evolution to deal with physical attacks, it is activated just as readily by emotional attacks — by ourselves or others. Recent research indicates that generating feelings of self-compassion actually decreases our cortisol levels. In one study conducted by Helen Rockliff and her colleagues, researchers asked participants to imagine receiving compassion and feeling it in their bodies. Every minute they were told things like, “Allow yourself to feel that you are the recipient of great compassion; allow yourself to feel the loving-kindness that is there for you.” It was found that the participants given these instructions had lower cortisol levels after the imagery than those in the control group. Participants also demonstrated increased heart rate variability afterwards. The safer people feel, the more open and flexible they can be in response to their environment, and this is reflected in how much their heart rate varies in response to stimuli. So you could say that by giving themselves compassion, participants’ hearts actually opened and became less defensive.
When we soothe our painful feelings with the healing balm of self-compassion, not only are we changing our mental and emotional experience, we’re also changing our body chemistry. An effective aspect of self-compassion practice, therefore, is to tap into our body’s self-healing system through physical sensations.
This means that an easy way to calm and comfort yourself when you’re feeling bad is through soothing touch. It seems a bit silly at first, but your body doesn’t know that. It just responds to the physical gesture of warmth and care, just as a baby responds to being held in its mother’s arms. Remember, physical touch releases oxytocin, reduces cortisol and calms cardiovascular stress. So why not try it? If you notice that you’re feeling tense, upset or self-critical, try giving yourself a warm hug, or tenderly stroking your arm or face, or gently rocking your body. What’s important is that you make a clear gesture that conveys feelings of love, care and tenderness. If other people are around, you can often fold your arms in a non-obvious way, gently squeezing yourself in a comforting manner. Notice how your body feels after receiving the hug or caress. Does it feel warmer, softer, calmer? It’s amazing how easy it is to tap into mammalian care-giving system and change your biochemical experience.
Emotionally abusive behavior is anything that intentionally hurts the feelings of another person. Since almost everyone in intimate relationships does that at some time or other, emotionally abusive behavior must be distinguished from an emotionally abusive relationship, which is more than the sum of emotionally abusive behaviors. Continue reading “Emotional Abuse”
Kristin Neff writes:
We know how much it hurts. “I’m an idiot!” “I’m disgusting.” “No one will ever love me.” “What a lame-ass.”
So why do we do it? As soon as we ask ourselves this question, we often just pile on more self-criticism. “I’m such a bitch, even to myself.” “That’s why I’m such a loser, I’m always putting myself down.”
Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that somehow it will help you stop beating yourself up. Instead, take a step back, and give your inner critic some slack. In its ineffective, counterproductive way, your inner critic is actually trying to keep you safe.
As humans we have two main evolved safety systems. The oldest and most quickly triggered is the threat defense system, which involves the amygdala. When we sense danger, our response is typically fight, flight, freeze, or submit: We turn and fight the threat, run like hell away from the threat, play dead in hopes the threat will pass, or show our bellies and hope the threat will be placated. These strategies are very successful for animals living in the wild, helping them to survive and pass on their genes. For humans, however, these responses often just make things worse. That’s because the threat we’re usually facing is a threat to our self-concept. We confuse our thoughts and representations of ourselves for our actual selves, meaning that when our self-image is under siege, we react as if our very existence is threatened. Continue reading “Why We Need to Have Compassion for Our Inner Critic”
Ally Palmer writes:
- Everyone’s a work in progress: Nobody’s perfect including yourself so stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be so.
- You have unique strengths: There’s a quality you have right now that someone else wishes they had. Stop focusing on what you don’t have and make the best of what you do.
- Your strength lies in your ability to be okay with your weaknesses: We don’t have to be ashamed of our weaknesses. We’re human, we all have them. When you simply accept that you have weaknesses, you can stop spending so much energy trying to hide them. Continue reading “10 Reasons Why You’re Enough Just the Way You Are”
Madison Sonnier writes:
Bad days can be extremely overpowering sometimes. When we’re having a bad day, everything feels wrong and the day seems to get even worse as we sink further into frustration and despair. By the end of the day, all we want to do is pull the covers up over our heads and block it all out.
When I clawed my way out of a depressive phase last year, it was a daily challenge to keep myself from falling back into that phase again. I had to go through a process of re-building my self-esteem and re-evaluating my life. But there were days when I was not very successful with these things and the negative thoughts that stayed with me for so long would interfere again. Continue reading “10 Things to Remind Yourself on a Daily Basis”
When you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
then you wake,
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.
When a relationship becomes a one-way way street, it ends up at a dead end sooner or later. Learn to keep the traffic flowing both ways with conversation, forgiveness and mindful awareness to keep your relationship growing well into the future. It all starts with that inner conversation you have with yourself. Be aware of it, and find how easy it is to nurture your relationship in the direction you want it to go. Continue reading “Simple Truth to a Richer, Deeper, Lasting Relationship”
Tara Brach may be glad to know that I have ‘discovered’ her work [I find the ‘discovery’ process, how things come to us and the language around it amusing at times]. In any case, thanks to Kristin Barton Cuthriell I became aware of the term ‘radical acceptance‘ a few week ago and devoured Tara Brach’s book by the same name shortly thereafter. I look forward to reading her book True Refuge when I can get a copy but until then I have been listening to her teaching via her podcast. Today on her blog, I found this video recording of one of these podcast meditations that I want to share with you here…
btw, Kristin — I’m very jealous you get to attend one of these meditations soon… :-D
Tara Brach writes:
About twelve years ago, a number of Buddhist teachers began to share a new mindfulness tool that offers in-the-trenches support for working with intense and difficult emotions. Called RAIN (an acronym for the four steps of the process), it can be accessed in almost any place or situation. It directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through confusion and stress. The steps give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to come home to our deepest truth. Like the clear sky and clean air after a cooling rain, this mindfulness practice brings a new openness and calm to our daily lives.
I have now taught RAIN to thousands of students, clients, and mental health professionals, adapting and expanding it into the version you’ll find in this chapter. I’ve also made it a core practice in my own life. Here are the four steps of RAIN presented in the way I’ve found most helpful:
R Recognize what is happening
A Allow life to be just as it is
I Investigate inner experience with kindness
RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. It doesn’t matter whether you resist “what is” by lashing out in anger, by having a cigarette, or by getting immersed in obsessive thinking. Your attempt to control the life within and around you actually cuts you off from your own heart and from this living world. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns as soon as we take the first step.
Full story at: Tara Brach – Working With Difficulties.