Hello Dear One:
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
“Who is the fairest of them all?” As little girls, we were taught that beauty was the greatest virtue.
But most often, when we looked in the mirror at ourselves, we did what we were taught. We judged ourselves and always found ourselves lacking. Not enough. Not beautiful enough. Not smart enough. Not clever enough. Not fashionable enough.
What Our Bodies Know
This practice of judging ourselves harshly wreaked havoc with our self-esteem in so many ways. But more than that, we are now learning from studies of trauma, consciousness, and neurobiology, it deposited a harmful message deep in our bodies. Yes, in our bodies.
I’ll bet you thought I was going to say, “in our subconscious.” And that’s true in a certain way, but we tend to think of our conscious or subconsciousness as located in our brains.
We Can Speak to Our Bodies
In the course that I am currently teaching, Gathering at the Table of Joy, we are reaching deep into our bodies to untangle these sadly unhelpful judgments.
First, we have been breathing, through our noses, with special attention to our exhales: making them perhaps twice as long as our inhales. This helps our internal self-sensing system relax and become more receptive to healing messages.
Next, we are “looking into the mirror” so to speak and offering up a different message.
Our Bodies Believe What We Were Told as Children
How fascinating that, even as a child (or today, as an adult) if you feel an imagined threat, or a situation triggers a memory of a threatening situation, your body, through its non-verbal self-sensing system responds as though it is real and sends that information to your gut and your brain. As a result, these messages about “not good enough” or “not beautiful enough” are still stuck in our bodies.
But We Can Look in the Mirror and Share a New Message
Similarly, if we imagine that we love ourselves, our body-centered, self-sensing, non-verbal system also responds as though this feeling is real.
Yes, we can feel the love.
We are beginning to speak to ourselves with love, but, at the same time, hold ourselves fiercely to teach ourselves this new message.
The words suggested below come from an allegorical novel by Martha Beck, Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening, Cynosure Publishing, 2016.)
By the way, I loved reading this novel and highly reccommend it. It was at once an adventure story and a coaching session all rolled up into one.
Be well, my dear one;
Be safe, my love.
Live in joy and peace, sweet friend.
Saying These Words Was Not Easy
I found it surprisingly difficult to say these words to myself. I am comfortable telling someone else– like my five-year-old granddaughter – that I love her, but I felt silly and strange saying it to myself.
I even copied the words below into my “notes” app on my phone, so that I could review them, because they seemed to fly out of my head each time I tried to say them. I sense that this discomfort is directly related to long-time childhood stories that I hold onto, for instance, that I am unlovable.
By telling myself that I love myself, again and again, I am shifting from a deep, habitual sense of self to make room for the joy and the agency I want in my life.
Will You Commit to Working on Your Relationship With Yourself?
Take time to breathe first and say these words in the shower, before meals, in the morning and in the evening.
Make this week focused on speaking kindly to yourself! Say these words when things are not going well and when things are going well.
This might seem like a simple exercise, but it is indeed profound. Here are some questions to journal about or simply take note of:
Notice, does your inner roommate comment?
How do you feel when you say these words?
Are you able to remember them?
Do you feel strange, disconnected, or silly when you say them?
Can you feel yourself hugging and loving yourself? Notice your response when things are not going well.Or, when things are going well!
Can you feel the fierceness it takes to hold yourself with love when such work is not supported in our culture?
Please share your experiences below. We’ll grow stronger and more loving towards ourselves together.
Love and Gratitude,
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