Dear Awesome Woman,
Life is ever changing with interesting challenges along the way. Practicing these 5 steps will help keep your spirit up along the journey of life.
Step 1) Recognize that we need to exercise ‘mind muscles.’
Rebbe Nachman of Breslav teaches (Likutei Moharan 11:24) “The rule is that a person has to employ much strength to overcome sadness. For it is in a person’s nature to fall into bitterness and sadness as a consequence of life and its circumstances and the tribulations that one must pass.” Bottomline – life can be tricky to maneuver.
Just like we go to the gym to strengthen our physical body, we need to go to an ‘internal gym’ to strengthen certain muscles so that we don’t stay stuck in worry, self pressure, overwhelm and doubt.
Step 2) Allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling.
This is simply done by turning our attention inwards to notice what the physical sensation is when we feel emotionally triggered from something.The sensation may be very vague and indescribable, but just notice.
For me it’s often a nebulous sensation in my torso. I’ll put my hands there just to stay with the physicality of it. This is allowing emotional energy to flow.
Step 3) Notice what our mind is telling us.
Oftentimes it is stuck on the ‘lack’ or ‘not doing enough’ button. Since we have already allowed our emotional energy to flow, we can now choose a positive affirmation or find evidence to ‘enough’ ourselves.
For example, one Mother’s day, I was feeling sad and worried about one of my children and the relationship that I was having with him. I turned my attention inward and noticed the physical sensation in my torso. I didn’t try to come up with words for the sensation I was feeling – that would be bringing the mind in and I wanted to stay with the energy of the emotion. So, I just kept my awareness on the nebulousness for about 30 seconds. After allowing myself to feel this, I noticed that my mind was finding all the worry I had about this child and how I was lacking as a mom in parenting him. The thought “I must be doing something wrong to have caused this” kept looping in my brain. So, I started to list in my mind what “I did right” and “am doing right” right in this relationship and relationships in general. That felt amazing and the list kept growing. It really felt so much better finding evidence of my capabilities.
There’s always evidence to the opposite of the painful ‘doing wrong’ thought for every area of our lives. We just need to bring our focus there consciously. There are always improvements to make, yet the best way to make those improvements is by noticing the things that we are doing right and offer compassion to ourselves for what we can do better. Throw the ‘beating-up-bat’ away – that old school technique just doesn’t work.
Step 4) Give compassion to ourselves.
Don’t just drop the bat, but give ourselves an ‘angel hug’ as well. We have these, you know. We have angels that watch over and guide us. It’s just a matter of taking a pause from our busy mind by breathing deeply inward and releasing and then bringing into our imagination a compassionate angel.
What would she say to you? What does it feel like in your body to have that compassion for yourself?
Step 5) Repeat these steps throughout our journey of life.
There is no destination and no end to this process as long as we are human.